March 6 – Sixteen teams remain active in their 2016-17 basketball season as the Class 4 Boys Basketball bracket is set.
The Liberty Eagles (21-6) will travel just a few miles to Francis Howell Central where they will meet up with Jennings (24-4). The Eagles already enjoyed success at Francis Howell Central this year in winning their first road game of the year vs. the Spartans, 60-52 back in early December.
Francis Howell Central is one of two common opponents Liberty and Jennings faced during the season. Jennings defeated Francis Howell Central as part of the Suburban / GAC Conference Shootout, 65-58.
The other common opponent is the Wildcats from Eureka. Liberty defeated Eureka 74-70 in overtime as part of the same Suburban / GAC Conference Shootout. Jennings met up with Eureka in mid January in the Kirkwood Tournament, winning 63-50.
Jennings enters the Sectional game having won 10 out of their last 11 games. Quality victories on their schedule this year include their District Championship win over St. Charles and early season wins over McCluer and Pattonville. Jennings split games with Parkway West (19-7) and defeated Lafayette (16-12), who is still alive in the Class 5 State tournament.
When breaking down the players to watch for on the Jennings Warrior roster you have to start with a duo of Juniors, Kyle Younge and Rajea’ Johnson. Younge (5’9″) averages 18.1 points and Johnson (6’3″) gets 15.3 per game. Younge shoots 42.3% of behind the arc and has made 30 3 point baskets on the season. Equally impressive is Younge’s ability to get to the free throw line where he shoots 76.9% (133-173) on the season. Rajea’ Johnson will do his damage from closer range, shooting a remarkable 69.5% from the field. Johnson does struggle from the free throw line, shooting 56.8% (75-132) on the season.
Jennings had a similarly good season last year (21-4), however lost in an upset in their District 6 Championship game losing 51-50 to Riverview Gardens (10-6). The same Riverview Gardens team ended their 2014-15 campaign with an upset in the District semi-final game. It’s been since 2013-14 for Jennings to advance this far in the post season where the Warriors lost an overtime game to Normandy in Sectionals.
The Eagles enter Tuesday’s game on a 9 game winning streak, their longest winning streak in the program’s history.
The winner of Tuesday’s game at Francis Howell Central will play the winner of the Parkway Central vs. St. Francis Borgia match up being played at Kirkwood High School. The elite eight contest will be played March 11th at Washington High School. Ironically enough, Coach Chip Sodemann is the last coach to lead the Washington Bluejays to a District Championship. Could more magic be in store for the Liberty Eagles and a return trip to Washington to play for a spot in the Class 4 Final Four?