Sectional Assignments Looming

Posted: March 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

The IHSA is expected to release the sectional assignments for the boys and girls water polo Sectional playoffs in the very near future. Using the dates of last year’s announcements, here are the parallel’s we have drawn:

2015
Sectional Hosts (Thursday, March 26)
Sectional Assignments (Tuesday, March 31)

2016
Sectional Hosts (Thursday, March 24)
Sectional Assignments (TBA)

If there is a pattern or a scheduled day for the IHSA to release this information each year, then we should expect the Sectional Assignments to be announced on Tuesday, March 29.

The previous dates for the sectional assignments are as follows:

2010: March 29
2011: ????????
2012: March 23
2013: March 21
2014: April 2
2015: March 31

Stay tuned!

Written by: Elyssa Hawkins

Earlier in the week, frequent site visitors got the chance to get a first look at the update on Sectional Hosts for the IHSA Water Polo play-offs. This year’s sites were announced as follows: Buffalo Grove, Fenwick, Glenbrook North, Lincoln Way North, Lyons, Neuqua Valley, Schaumburg, and St. Ignatius.

Now, if you were reading through that list carefully, you would have noticed some subtle changes.

  1. All sites have been announced versus the traditional seven, and one “TBA Site” which always ends up being hosted by Stagg.
  2. Stagg is not hosting a site (however there will still be one school with a shallow-deep pool hosting which is Schaumburg)
  3. Mundelein will not be not hosting this year as they have had in year’s past. (These duties have been taken over by Buffalo Grove)
  4. Two schools in the MCAC will be hosting sectionals (Fenwick and St. Ignatius), and
  5. Fenwick AND Lyons will be hosting

That’s right: The Friars and the Lions will not be facing off in sectionals this season.

Which brings us to the next question: What does this mean for relocating schools who have participated in the Fenwick/Lyons/York Sectional?

While it would be reasonable to have the majority of schools within the Chicago area fall in line to play at Fenwick, then why on earth did Hinsdale Central and South still have to travel all the way out to Aurora to play in the Metea Valley Sectional (a 25 mile/30 minute drive) when they could have easily gone to Western Springs (a 3 mile/10 minute drive) in 2014?

While I had questioned why St. Ignatius still should have hosted a sectional at UIC if they were going to play the championship game at Fenwick, would having both schools hosting make much of a difference on where the championship match will be? Probably not.

From a geographic standpoint, this would be concerning because now coaches who organize their schedules to play against their sectional foes may not be seeing these teams come May.

For example, if Hinsdale Central ends up in the Lyons Sectional, then what was the point of playing against St. Charles East if they won’t see each other in Sectionals? Or now that Stagg is not hosting a sectional, will Bremen, Sandburg and Mother McAuley even be facing off one another for the State berth in 2015?

In this new lineup, there is a possibility that Stagg will join the Lyons Sectional and we could foresee the two facing off in a rematch to earn the State berth. On the plus side, both boys and girls teams at York High school could be playing in the same sectional for the first time since the Dukes hosted in 2012.

However, if there is one thing that needs to be taken away from this change, it’s this: the IHSA is making changes, well worth waiting for. On Facebook, there has been a growing group demanding for a seeded State Tournament but also for a new way in organizing Sectional Host Sites. And it seems, they’re finally listening, and not forcing too many top teams to play one another.

While there are still top ranked schools that will eventually face on another, I would find it to be a much more entertaining playoff tournament if those top teams played each other for the State Berth, rather than the two games that occur the day before.

While the IHSA is still a long way off from organizing the dream Sectional and State Championships (you know, one where each Sectional champion is placed in a seeding format), there is much to be said about the changes in 2015. There is a new way for teams to get their golden ticket punched in, which will make for an even more exciting State Tournament to watch come May.

Until then, good luck to all teams. Be sure to check back to illpolo.com for more sectional updates. Team assignments will be coming up soon, and only then will players, coaches and fans alike be able to get an idea of how much to expect from the unexpected.

Sectional Play-In Game Update

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Currently, the IHSA lists all of the boys and girls play-in games as having start times at 7:00pm. From prior experience, those are standard times that they initially list but can be changed based on pool availability. In the recent past, game times have been changed to 4:30pm, 5:00pm, 5:30pm, 5:45pm, or have stayed at 7:00pm.

Also, the host of the play-in game is usually the higher seed. However, because of pool availability issues at some schools, I have seen the lower seed end up hosting the game and I have also seen the actual sectional host serve as a neutral location for a handful of games.

I will check, recheck, and update the latest information daily and my advice is to stay alert for any site or time changes in the next two weeks.

Stagg/TBA Sectional Update

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

When the IHSA announced the state tournament bracket drawing results, they listed Stagg as a sectional host for what had previously been listed as a TBA Sectional. Earlier this week, however, the IHSA still had a TBA listing on their web site and they mentioned that Stagg would not be a host in 2014.

The latest development: Stagg WILL host the TBA Sectional after all, however, the sectional final games will be played at Lincoln-Way Central in their all-deep facility. The play-in games, quarterfinal round, and semifinal round will be played at Stagg leading up to Saturday morning’s final games (which will both be played prior to the LWC Sectional’s two final games).

No Insult To Injury

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

There have been multiple teams this season who have suffered from a key player being sidelined due to injury. During that time, the teams have suffered what they would more than likely call “unexpected” losses due to the fact that they weren’t playing at full strength. And while it is a possibility that they would have won with the sidelined player in the lineup, the games and those losses do count and do have an effect on both the team standings and the team rankings. A team does not get a “temporary freeze” on their ranking simply because they do not have their regular starting lineup available each week. Even if we could hypothetically say “well, they probably would have won if Injured Starter #1 was playing”, the end result of each game still has to be considered for each team.

Additionally, it has to be considered that a player sidelined with an injury may not know if and when they will actually return to the pool. It would be extremely difficult to keep ranking a team ahead of ones they lose too without knowing that information.

And just remember…while an injury is temporary, so too are the team rankings. A returning starter back in the lineup plus a few wins likely means a team will end up appropriately ranked when all is said and done.

For those new to the sport or unfamiliar with the postseason process, there is an event that takes place every April that is of the utmost importance to the sport of water polo. The IHSA uses a blind drawing to determine the state final pairings, usually asking a media member or a school official to draw numerical peas from a bottle. Each sectional is assigned a number, and the order of the draw helps set the brackets for the state quarterfinals, semifinals, and final games.

This means that instead of seeding the final eight teams at the state tournament, the teams are randomly assigned to play any of the other sectional winners in the quarterfinal round. While this may seem like a fair way to assign the matchups, the randomness of it all can also lead to opening round matchups where the top-ranked team in the state plays the second-ranked team in the quarterfinals, thus eliminating one of the top two teams from trophy contention before Saturday’s semifinal and final rounds. Over the course of the last decade, there have been many quarterfinal round matchups that featured games like: #1 Fenwick vs #2 Brother Rice (boys), #1 Fenwick vs #2 Mother McAuley (girls), and #1 Lyons vs #3 Naperville North (boys). Hence the importance of the draw.

The IHSA normally does not announce the date of the draw. They just announce the results after it has occurred. If I can pin down a date via one of their executive directors, I will post that information immediately. Otherwise, the draw has been completed on the following dates over the past four years: April 21 (2010), April 15 (2011), April 13 (2012), April 17 (2013). It is definitely “coming soon”.

The IHSA has yet to announce the team assignments for the 2014 water polo sectionals (as of April 2). That is eighteen days beyond their self-imposed deadline, which is stated as “for spring activities, this information is usually posted by March 15” on their own web site. As we await the announcement, here are some interesting details:

  • Schools had to meet the IHSA’s deadline of February 1 to participate
  • Nearly every other spring sport has had their assignments announced
  • To my recollection, the announcements have never been made in April
  • The sectional seeds are determined on April 24, so the assignments surely must be made by then

An e-mail to an assistant director of the IHSA on Monday was met with a response that the announcement “should be this week” with no other information. Meanwhile, there are still two ‘TBA’ sectionals listed on the IHSA site.

And did I post this in hopes that they release the team assignments immediately afterwards? Definitely.