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Nick Duffy and his St. Edward teammates square off against Immaculate Conception for the fourth time this season Friday in Elmhurst. | Erik Anderson~For Sun-Times Media
The Suburban Christian Gold championship scenarios are cut and dry going into Friday night’s showdown between St. Edward and Immaculate Conception in Elmhurst.
If the Knights emerge victorious, they win the outright league championship for the second year in a row. If the Green Wave claims victory, it earns a share of the SCC Gold title in what would likely be a three-way tie at the top with Immaculate Conception and Montini, provided the Broncos defeat Marian Central on Saturday.
Adding to the drama of Friday night’s affair is the fact that it will be the fourth meeting this season between Immaculate Conception (20-5, 8-1) and St. Edward (20-6, 7-2).
The Green Wave won 51-39 in the first encounter when the teams played in the championship game of the Westminster Christian Thanksgiving Tournament. The Knights returned the favor with a 57-51 win in the championship game of the IC/Westmont Christmas Tournament, and they followed that with a 64-58 SCC Gold triumph against the Green Wave on Jan. 11 in Elgin.
While the stakes are high for Round 4 of the rivalry, they could be even higher next week at the Class 2A Westmont Regional. Immaculate Conception is the top seed in the field and St. Edward is the No. 2 seed, meaning a fifth meeting could be in the cards Feb. 22 if both teams advance to the regional championship game.
Let’s play two: UEC’s best to square off twice
Larkin wraps up the regular season with two straight games against Neuqua Valley.
The home-and-home series begins Friday night in Elgin in a regularly scheduled contest between the Royals and Wildcats. They’ll get together again Feb. 22 in Naperville for the UEC’s crossover championship game, which pits the winner of the UEC River against the winner of the UEC Valley.
Neuqua Valley (23-2) is ranked No. 17 in this week’s Sun-Times Super 25 and wrapped up the UEC Valley title last weekend. Larkin (21-3) is right behind in the Super 25 rankings at No. 18 and clinched the UEC River championship with last week’s win at Geneva.
Both the Wildcats and Royals are riding five-game win streaks, setting the stage for what should be two highly intriguing encounters between a pair of teams hoping to make long postseason runs.
Egekeze rounding into form for Red Raiders
Huntley clinched at least a share of its third straight Fox Valley Valley championship with a 54-26 win against Jacobs on Tuesday, and it can win the outright title by beating Cary-Grove on Friday.
While the program’s dominance in the FVC Valley is noteworthy, a bigger development lately for the Red Raiders (16-7, 10-1) might be junior forward Amanze Egekeze’s steady return to form.
The 6-foot-7 standout missed Huntley’s first 13 games of the season while recovering from surgery for right knee tendonitis. Egekeze has slowly eased into the Red Raiders rotation, and in his first 10 games back is averaging 10.8 points and 5.5 rebounds.
“I’m not 100 percent yet by far, but I think I’m getting my lift back,” Egekeze said. “There’s no more pain in the knee and I’m starting to jump a lot better.
“I’m seeing improvement, but some of my moves are a little short. I think as I keep playing it’s going to just keep getting better.”
Egekeze added some muscle to his frame and figures to continue attracting attention from Division I college coaches in the months ahead.
As he has since he was a freshman up on the varsity, Egekeze continues to be a disruptive defensive force in the paint with 1.5 blocks per game this season.
“I have longer arms and it’s good game-plan wise because teams don’t come inside as much,” Egekeze said. “I feel like I can alter a lot of shots even if I don’t get a hand on the ball.”
Whip-Purs right backin FVC Fox title hunt
Hampshire’s chances of winning the Fox Valley Fox title seemed to take a hit when it lost to Crystal Lake Central for the second time this season earlier this month.
Those chances were revived earlier this week when what seemed like a clear path to the championship for the Tigers was derailed by a shocking 75-71 overtime loss against last-place Grayslake Central.
The outcome leaves Hampshire (20-4, 8-2) and Crystal Lake Central (20-3, 8-2) tied for first place in the division standings. That means the Whip-Purs control their own destiny and can earn no worse than a share of the league championship by winning home games against Woodstock on Friday and Woodstock North next Tuesday.