Tom Batters

Peoria Notre Dame beat Richwoods, 58-49, Friday night to complete a season sweep of the Knights.

The game was not even that close. The Irish led, 42-28, at the end of the third quarter before Richwoods came up with a too-little-too-late run in the fourth quarter.

Notre Dame clicked on all cylinders Friday, but the Irish will have a tough road in the playoffs when they enter the upcoming Richwoods Regional as the No. 4 seed. The Irish will play No. 5-seed Woodruff March 2 in the dreaded “play-in game.”

Usually, these play-in games are between teams that realistically do not have a chance to advance beyond the second round. Notre Dame, however, is one of the most formidable No. 4 seeds I’ve ever seen.

The Irish are capable of winning this Regional, which also includes Peoria Central, Richwoods and Limestone. I also believe Notre Dame is capable of contending for a Sectional title (the winner of the Richwoods Regional will play the winner of the Washington Regional March 10 in the Rock Island Sectional).

The Irish have three outstanding guards in Nick Rochford, Charlie Bryant and Tyler Les. They also have a talented center (Max Bielfeldt, who is destined to play at a Division 1 college after his high school days are over), and a deep bench.

Rochford handles the ball well and has a knack for hitting big shots in tight situations. Bryant is one of the best players at executing the “back door cut” along the baseline for easy layups. Les can hit three-point shots from the concession stand.

So, watch out for Notre Dame. Don’t be surprised if this “play-in” team is playing for the Regional title on March 6.


Peoria Central is the No. 1 seed in the Richwoods Regional.

After I read the seed assignments, my first reaction was, “How the heck did that happen?”

Richwoods, a state-ranked team that swept Manual and beat a bunch of other ranked teams this year, clearly deserved the No. 1 seed in this Regional.

Richwoods, however, was the victim of a seriously flawed system that puts the seeding solely in the hands of the other coaches in the Regional.

The system provides those coaches with cryptic guidelines and makes it possible for a less-deserving team to get the top seed.

Coaches are asked to consider the following criteria when casting their seeding ballots:

• Head to head victories against teams in the Regional.

• Record against common opponents.

• Total wins/losses.

• Team evaluation submitted by coaches.

The guidelines state that the above criteria are not prioritized. In other words, head-to-head victories should not count any more than overall record.

The coaches in this Regional, though, apparently put too much weight on Richwoods’ overtime loss to Peoria Central the day before. They let that one game overshadow all that Richwoods has accomplished this season.

After the seeds were tabulated, Richwoods and Central were tied, so Central got the No. 1 seed because of the head-to-head tiebreaker, or a coin flip, depending on who you ask.

My question is: How did it even end up in a tie?

Richwoods should have received enough votes to lock up the No. 1 seed easily. I still believe that, even after the Knights lost to ND Friday.

Before I rest my case, here are some facts that will support my argument. You can judge for yourself whether or not Richwoods deserved a better fate.

• Let’s start with overall record. At the time the seeds were announced, Richwoods was 16-5. Central was 10-11. That’s a huge difference. Don’t you have to actually win more games than you lose to be taken seriously as a No. 1 seed?

• Central lost to East Peoria. Richwoods beat East Peoria, 51-36. East Peoria is 10-10 this season.

• Richwoods swept Manual, which was ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at the time. Central lost to Manual twice.

• Central lost to Woodruff, the lowest seed in this Regional. Richwoods beat Woodruff, 75-56.

• Richwoods beat Moline, a top five team in Class 4A.

I am not saying that the No. 1 seed guarantees a team anything. This Regional is going to be a battle for every team, regardless of seed.

I just feel that a state-ranked team with several quality wins deserves more respect than a 10-11 team with a mediocre resume.