(Last week's ranking in parentheses; records through Tuesday)
1. Bloom Township 20-3 (1)
Tonight will likely decide the Southland Athletic Conference championship, as Rich South tries to complete a season sweep of the Blazing Trojans and move a game ahead of them in the standings. Bloom has regained its stride since losing to Sandburg at an MLK Day shootout, but even if successful against the Stars, the Blazing Trojans aren't home free. They still have one more matchup with Crete-Monee on the docket.
2. Seton Academy 19-4 (2)
A makeup game with Bishop McNamara on Wednesday wasn't expected to present the Sting with much resistance, nor should anyone else remaining on the regular-season schedule. Unless Mount Carmel and St. Francis deSales both pull off the unexpected, the Catholic League South title belongs to Seton, but the Sting have a much bigger goal in mind: They want to be celebrating on March 10 in Peoria.
3. Homewood-Flossmoor 16-5 (4)
Coming up empty against Lockport last Friday didn't cost the Vikings their first-place perch in the SWSC Blue, but it did represent another puzzling display by a talented Homewood-Flossmoor team that hasn't always operated at peak efficiency. The Vikings bounced back, though, to defeat Lincoln-Way East on Tuesday and reclaim the No. 3 position in the Times poll, an ascent unintentionally aided by Crete-Monee.
4. Crete-Monee 15-6 (3)
The Warriors' two-year run atop the Southland Athletic Conference probably ended Tuesday night when Rich South edged them by a point. That put Crete-Monee one down to both the Stars and Bloom Township in the loss column with only a slim chance of making up ground. Two turnovers in the last 39 seconds doomed the Warriors against Rich South. Like H-F, the sum of Crete's parts is sometimes better than its whole.
5. Thornwood 14-6 (5)
So much has been said about Andrew this winter that many people might not have noticed the Thunderbirds are running neck-and-neck with the highly regarded Thunderbolts in the SWSC Red. Andrew won the teams' first meeting, but by only three points, and Thornton has proved the T'bolts are beatable. This is the time of year for Thornwood's challenging nonconference schedule to begin paying dividends.