Bloom prevails in Lockport sectional


Bloom prevails in Lockport sectional

By Tony Baranek
Bloom senior Donald Moore knows his clichs.He was keyed in on one in particular before he and the Blazing Trojans met Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 4A Lockport Sectional title game on Friday.A lot of people like to say, The third times the charm. We werent going to let that happen tonight, he said. Weve worked too hard all season.It didnt come easy. The Blazing Trojans had a big lead shaved down to almost nothing.But on a night when perfection was hard to find, Moore was spot on when it counted in leading Bloom to a 43-32 victory and a showdown with Edwardsville in the Normal Supersectional Tuesday at Illinois State University.The win was third this season by Bloom over H-F. The schools last sectional title came in 2000.Moore scored 20 points for the Blazing Trojans (37-3), all but two at the free-throw line, where he was 18-of-20. In the fourth quarter alone, he was 12-of-13.Moore did his finest work after H-F (22-8) had clawed back from as much as a 13-point deficit to get within 35-32 with 2:48 remaining. Over the remaining time, Moore went to the line four times and sank alleight shots. The Vikings were 0-for-9 from the field in the final 2:48.They were still down so I knew they were going to be kind of aggressive, Moore said. So I just tried to go into the body, and got fouled.Unlike his teammates, who were a combined 3-for-11 on the night, Moore was a cool customer at the charity stripe.I just told myself, You miss these free throws and the season could be over, he said.He didnt, and the Blazing Trojans were able to prevail despite making just two second-half field goals and rushing themselves out of a good offensive rhythm in the third period.Trailing 8-6 after one period, Bloom caught a spark in the second when Lejavius Johnson (11 points), with a rambunctious H-F crowd chanting air ball at him, nailed a 3-pointer to start 14-1 run. Johnson hit another on a dish out from Moore during that sequence. Moore later added a three-point play.When Donald drives a lot of people respect him, and that takes the focus off of me, Johnson said. It was an easy job for me to catch and shoot. Leading 24-11 at the half, Bloom hurt itself at the outset of the third quarter by committing five fouls within the first three minutes. The Blazing Trojans also had problems getting into their offense after H-F switched from a 1-3-1 zone to a man defense.Still, the Vikings werent able to seriously begin to close until a foulfest in the fourth quarter resulted in the two teams going to the line 19 times.H-F converted early, Tim Williams (11 points) completing a three-point play and Maurius Hill swishing two to get the deficit down to 30-27. The Vikings got as close as 31-29 after two freebies by Tyrone Sherman with 4:36 remaining, but then fell apart on offense, and sent the wrong man to the line too many times for Bloom down the stretch.You cant play one half of basketball and expect to win a sectional championship, H-F coach Jim McLaughlin said. I dont know what happened with the rivalry, but the first half we were just flat.Both teams know each other so well, you knew it was going to be a slugfest. If you only play 16 minutes out of the 32, you wind up not with the trophy.Our hats go to off to Jasper Williams and the whole Bloom organization. They do things the right way and we wish them the best of luck.

Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)


Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

Atlanta Braves

2017 record: 72-90, 3rd place in NL East

Offseason additions: Preston Tucker, Charlie Culberson, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Peter Moylan, Chase Whitley, Grant Dayton, Chris Stewart, Anibal Sanchez

Offseason departures: Matt Kemp, R.A. Dickey, Jason Motte, Matt Adams

X-factor: Ozzie Albies

One of the youngest players in the league, Albies just turned 21 in January. He carries with him the pedigree of the game's No. 11 overall prospect entering last season and got his first taste of big-league life toward the end of 2017.

He hit well, posting a .286 average and .810 OPS while showing an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and providing some pop and speed.

Assuming he can avoid any sophomore slump and take another step forward, the Braves could actually surprise some people this year. But without Albies providing Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman some lineup support until a certain phenom gets to town, it's hard to see Atlanta contending.

Projected lineup

1. Ender Inciarte - CF
2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
4. Tyler Flowers - C
5. Nick Markakis - RF
6. Preston Tucker - LF
7. Dansby Swanson - SS
8. Rio Ruiz - 3B

Projected rotation

1. Julio Teheran
2. Mike Foltynewicz
3. Brandon McCarthy
4. Sean Newcomb
5. Scott Kazmir


The Braves are coming, you guys. 

Maybe not now, but they'll be here soon enough.

2018 will feature growing pains for a young group of up-and-comers including the aforementioned Albies, plus Tucker (a powerful outfielder acquired from the Astros), Swanson (the 2015 No. 1 overall pick who's since fallen on tough times) and Newcomb.

Oh and there's some guy named Ronald Acuna coming up next. You may have heard of him.

The 20-year-old phenom has absolutely torn the cover off the ball everywhere he's gone the last 14 or so months and we'll see the game's No. 1 overall prospect in the big leagues in mid-April, God willing.

Once Acuna does come, it adds another level to a lineup that frankly comes up a bit short right now, even with Freeman (one of the best hitters in baseball) and Inciarte (one of the game's most underrated players). 

The Braves have a solid bullpen, plenty of rotation depth and a decent bench. It wouldn't be shocking to see them challenge for the second wild card spot, but true contention will probably come in 2019 for this bunch.

Prediction: 3rd in NL West, no playoffs

Complete opposition research

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here: