The Crusaders will tipoff first at 6pm in the 3A game. They’ll face a Peoria Notre Dame team that is a bit of a Cinderella. The Irish were only a four seed in their Sectional. This is their first appearance in a Super-Sectional.
"A lot of people might think they’re Cinderella, but they compete in one of the toughest regionals in the state, and they’ve earned it," says Lutheran coach Tom Guse. "They’ve beaten some highly ranked teams in 3A."
The Irish are led by senior guard Shea Feehan. He averages more than 24 points per game. Much like Lutheran’s Thomas Kopelman and Joe Kellen he’s a major threat from behind the arc.
"They’re a really sound team all around," says Kopelman. "They have a good guard. They have two good big guys."
"They’re real disciplined," says Guse. "They want to keep this game in the 40s and 50s at the most. We want to get it up in the 60s if we can."
"We knew we had a chance to make a deep playoff run in the beginning of the year, and we’ve been here before the past couple years. We’ve had some success in the playoffs, so its nothing new to us," says Lutheran center Nate Wieting.
The same is true for Auburn and it’s opponent Lincolnshire Stevenson. Stevenson knocked Boylan out of the Super-Sectional last year and went on to finish second in the State. The Patriots have only one loss this season. For the first time in this postseason Auburn will go into a game as an underdog.
"They’re an excellent team. Very well balanced," says Auburn coach Bryan Ott. "They’ve got a lot of guys with firepower on the floor."
Starting with junior point guard Jalen Brunson. He has offers from Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Illinois among others. He’s averaging 25 points per game. So how will the Knights try to stop him?
"Just make him create turnovers and play hard against him," says Auburn guard Laytwan Porter. "Play D on him. Just get him off his level of speed.
"He’s very hard to double team, because he sees so well and the other players he has can all score, so he’s gonna find the open man," says Ott. "There’s a reason they were second in the State last year."
Playing on a bigger floor at NIU could be a plus for Auburn’s strong transition game.
"With the extra space I think it really helps us to play the type of game we want to play in terms of up and down the floor," says Ott.
The Lutheran game will start at 6 p.m. The Auburn game will follow at 8 p.m.
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