IHSA basketball rankings: Top 5 Illinois high school boys teams in the Peoria area

Adam Duvall
Journal Star

With the return of the Illinois High School Association postseason, the 2021-2022 high school boys basketball season is one of the most anticipated in recent memory. 

And as the first games are being played this week, there's no better time than now to check on five of the Peoria-area's best teams.

Now, here are the preseason power rankings for 2021-22 boys hoops season. Last season's records are in parentheses.

1. Peoria Notre Dame (14-2)

Peoria Notre Dame head coach Tom Lacher chats with junior guard Nelson Reynolds in the second half against Washington on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 at PND High School.

Tom Lacher throws his squad into the fire right away with three games in a 22-hour span the day after Thanksgiving. Luckily, the Irish have a strong core returning in Nelson Reynolds, Juan Madrigal, David Williams and Cooper Koch along with the emerging Eoin Dillon. Notre Dame does lose starter Lathan Sommerville, who in August transferred to the Brandon Hall School in Atlanta. PND starts December with an eight-day stretch, playing Richwoods, Peoria High and Manual. 

Top players from the spring:Meet the boys basketball honorees for the 2021 Central Illinois High School Sports Awards

2. Metamora (15-4)

Metamora head coach Danny Grieves and his bench and sophomore team cheer on the Redbirds as they battle Washington in the second half Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021 in Metamora.

All five starters return for coach Danny Grieves and the Redbirds, who were the runner-up in the inaugural Mid-Illini Conference Tournament. All-area players Ethan Kizer and Zack Schroeder will be the big-time offensive threats, while Drew Tucker and Tyson Swanson are both 6-foot-2 juniors. Luke DeFrance, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, is a tough-nosed defender and can knock down 3s. The Redbirds open their season with a big test of Springfield Lanphier at The Kevin Brown Memorial Tournament of Champions.

Spring showdown:'The ultimate goal': Washington wins first Mid-Illini boys basketball tournament

3. Washington (17-1)

Washington head coach Eric Schermerhorn, left, talks with Ethan Kienitz (23), Devon Vanderheydt, right, and Andrew Coker during a break in the action in the second half of the Mid-Illini Conference title game Saturday, March 13, 2021 in Washington. The Panthers defeated the Metamora Redbirds 69-52 for the title.

Lost to graduation is Journal Star player of the year Devon Vanderheydt along with guard Ethan Mountz and forward Tyler Bass, but that doesn't mean coach Eric Schermerhorn has an empty cupboard. The Panthers are coming off a sweep of the Mid-Illini Conference regular season title — 14-0 for the first time since 2013 — and winning the inaugural Mid-Illini Tournament, beating Metamora 69-52. Back for Washington including a trio of seniors in Drew Lewis, Isaac Mapson and Andrew Coker.

4. Peoria High (7-7)

Peoria High head coach Dan Ruffin directs his team against Peoria Notre Dame in the second half Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at PND High School.

Experience returns to the Pride of the City and coach Danny Ruffin. The Lions have five seniors back in the mix led by Lerone Allen, Cesse Cain, Staishaun Kelly, Nate Moore and DaShawn Wells. Expect key contributions from 6-foot-6 junior Eli Love as well as 6-foot-2 freshman LeShawn Stowers. Peoria High makes an appearance at the State Farm Holiday Classic as its Christmas tournament, as well as playing half the Mid-Illini including Limestone, Dunlap, Canton and Morton in the nonconference slate.

Top girls teams:The top 12 Illinois high school girls basketball teams in the Peoria area

5. Richwoods (7-4)

Richwoods boys basketball coach William Smith greets his team during a game.

Richwoods got off to a hot start last season, winning its first six games before  6-0 before going 1-4 to close out the season. The Knights, who were 7-3 in Big 12 Conference play, bring back three starters including high-scoring Jamauri Winfrey and experienced guards in Jaylen Brown and Javon Brewer. Another tough schedule is on the docket for Richwoods, which starts the season at the Rockford Boylan Tournament, then plays at the Pekin Tournament over Christmas followed by a visit to Peoria High.

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at aduvall@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.