State Stories


MARCH MADNESS: 2016 Class 3A & 4A Boys Basketball

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The final weekend of the high school season is upon us as America's Original March Madness closes out its 20th year in Peoria with the Class 3A & 4A State Finals at the Peoria Civic Center’s Carver Arena. The state semifinals will unfold on Friday, March 20 with the third-place and state championship games to follow on Saturday, March 21.

The March Madness Experience, an interactive basketball-fueled family fun fest located in the Peoria Civic Center exhibit halls adjacent to the arena, opens on Thursday, March 19. The Country Financial Three-Point Showdown also continues Thursday at Carver Arena, as prelims will whittle competitors down to four shooters from each class. The final four shooters from Class 3A and Class 4A will shoot for their class titles between semifinal games on Friday, with the winners returning on Saturday, March 21 for a chance to be the all-class champion King of the Hill.

The games will air live on Comcast SportsNet, Comcast SportsNet+ and IHSA TV Network affiliates (click for local listings). The games will also be carried live on the internet via the NFHS Network at, which will also stream the post-game press conferences live.

Lee Hall and legendary Chicago Bulls broadcaster Tom Dore will bring viewers the 3A action, while Dave Bernhard and Camron Smith step in to call the 4A games. WCIA's Bret Beherns (3A) and CSN's Kelly Crull (4A) will split the sideline duties, while Matt Rodewald hosts the show from the March Madness Experience.

On Saturday, March 21, the IHSA and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) will hold their annual Learning from the Legends Clinic in the March Madness Experience. The FREE clinic is open to 4th through 6th graders. Click here for info or to register.

In addition, the IHSA Student Advisory Committee will announce the winner of the Class 3A/4A Student Section Showdown during the Class 3A State Championship game on Saturday.

A brief synopsis on each state qualifier is below. No one covers the state tourney like the Peoria Journal Star, check out their coverage online at


Lincoln-Way West reaches the state finals in just the seventh season in school history, which included an 0-31 start when the school opened in 2009. The Warriors pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state history when junior guard Marco Pettinato (20. Ppg, 109 assists) and company rallied to defeat Morgan Park 68-60 in the Super-Sectional.

One of the most storied programs in state history returns to the finals with a familiar name leading the way. Frank Williams led Manual to pair of state titles, two of its five total in school history, before playing nine years in the NBA. Williams’ son Da’Monte Williams (15.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 72 assists), a junior guard, leadsr the Rams and is committed to the University of Illinois where his father starred.

Legendary coach Gene Pingatore follows last year’s state title with one of his youngest teams ever, which has been battle-tested by a grueling schedule. The lone returning starter is 6-11 senior center Nick Rakocevic, regarded as the top unsigned player in the state. Rakocevic (19.7 ppg, 14.5 ppg) has been the rock for the young Chargers, and will be a top candidate for the coveted Mr. Basketball award.

Many regard Althoff as the best team in the state regardless of class, and as one of the nation’s top teams. All five starters return from last year’s Class 3A runner-up squad, including 6-4 junior guard Jordan Goodwin (18.6 ppg, 9.2 rpg), who has added a football scholarship offer from the University of Iowa in addition to multiple hoops offers.



Auburn returns to the state finals for the first time since Fred VanVleet helped the team place third in 2012. Another star guard is leading the way for the Knights this time around, as Trayvon Tyler (18.9 ppg, 158 assists) is the engine that makes Auburn go and go they have in the postseason, winning their five games by an average of over 14 points per game.

Head coach Mike Oliver (484 career wins) and Curie breakthrough for their first state final appearance in school history after the highly successful program had come up just short in past seasons. DePaul commit Devin Gage (14.8 ppg, 89 assists) is the lone senior starter for the Condors, and has stepped up in the postseason, combining for 43 points in a pair of two-point Sectional wins over Whitney Young and Kenwood.

Tradition doesn’t graduate, even if Derrick Rose and Jabari Parker do. Head coach Robert Smith has won six state titles at the school, as the Wolverines make their 14th state final appearance in school history. This year’s team may not have a megastar, but Gonzaga commit Zach Norvell (6-5 guard, 16.5 ppg) is one of the state’s top players.

The Redwings fell three points shy of knocking off Jahlil Okafor and Whitney Young in the 2014 state championship and now return for another shot. Senior guard James Dockery (11.9 ppg) leads a balanced group, which includes senior Dan Sobolewski (10.8 ppg), whose brother Dave teamed with Frank Kaminsky at Benet for a historic 2011 season that came up short of state after an upset bid by a Ryan Boatwright led East Aurora squad.

109th year of State Series
9th year of 4-Class series
21st year in Peoria


Carver Arena at the Peoria Civic Center (Peoria)


Friday, March 18
Session 1
Class 3A Semifinals
Noon - Lincoln-Way West vs.

2:00 p.m. - St. Joseph vs.  Althoff Catholic

Session 2
Class 4A Semifinals

6:30 p.m. - Rockford Auburn vs. Curie

8:15 p.m. - Simeon vs.
Benet Academy

Saturday, March 19
Session 3
Class 3A Finals
Third-Place - Noon
Championship - 2:00 p.m.

Session 4
Class 4A Finals
Third-Place - 6:30 p.m.
Championship - 8:15 p.m.

Live on Comcast SportsNet & Comcast SportsNet Plus. Click here for channel schedule & information.



Stations carrying all games:
WEAI 107.1 FM (Jacksonville)
WFMB 104.5 FM (Springfield)
Online Broadcast

WJOL 1340 AM (Joliet)
Online Broadcast

WRHL 1060 AM (Rochelle)
Online Broadcast


IHSA Boys Basketball Page

Thursday, March 17
5:00 p.m. - 1A/2A Prelims

Friday, March 18
1:45 p.m. - 1A Finals
8:00 p.m. - 2A Finals

Saturday, March 19
1:45 p.m. - King of Hill All-Class Championship


Thursday, March 17
6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday, March 18
10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, March 19
10:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

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