Cubs

High School Lites Preview

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High School Lites Preview

Comcast SportsNet is your go-to place for prep basketball highlights in Chicagoland. Fridays High School Lites feast will feature conference battles on the north shore and profile some up-and-coming teams in the western suburbs.

Who will gain momentum on the eve of the holiday tournament season? Here is a snapshot of each game Comcast SportsNet will be covering this week on High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20:

THURSDAY GAMES

Girls: Bolingbrook (4-0) @ Lockport (2-6), 6:30 p.m.

Ariel Massengale is at Tennessee now, but forward Morgan Tuck and a talented group of Raiders remain. Tuck led all scorers with 18 points as Bolingbrook defeated Sandburg 56-25 Tuesday night. It's a challenging week for Taylor Quain and the Porters. They are facing two of the toughest teams in Chicagoland: Homewood-Flossmoor (69-45 loss on Tuesday) and now Bolingbrook.

Girls: Metea Valley (4-6) @ Waubonsie Valley (7-1), 7:15 p.m.

Waubonsie Valley's team might be a little more focused -- and a little more careful -- come Thursday night. The Warriors committed 21 turnovers in a 65-47 loss to Bartlett Tuesday. Becky Wilford paced the WV attack with 13 points. Metea Valley, who is starting to show a little more consistency after an 0-3 start, gets good contributions from Bria Walker, Anna Petersen and Megan Geldernick.

FRIDAY GAMES

Farragut (4-3) @ Westinghouse (6-2), 4:00 p.m.

If Westinghouse is to have any chance of winning Friday, they have to contain Farraguts Rashaun Stimage. The senior center was unstoppable Wednesday against Manley, racking up 27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the Admirals 93-37 victory. Westinghouse also comes in on a high note, after defeating Raby 72-54 Wednesday night. They also have a showdown with Whitney Young on Monday.

No. 9 New Trier (7-1) @ Waukegan (3-4) 7:30 p.m.

The Trevians have more than just Dartmouth-bound forward Connor Boehm. Guards Austin Angel, Reid Berman and David Braigel have New Trier off and running this season. Its always a battle when these Central Suburban South foes meet and this year figures to be no different. The Bulldogs have a talented guard in Akeem Springs and an up-and-coming forward in sophomore Jerome Davis. Theyre looking to bounce back from a Wednesday upset at the hands of Grayslake Central.

No. 16 West Aurora (5-1) @ Glenbard North (3-2), 7:30 p.m.
The top spot in the DuPage Valley conference doesn't have a runaway favorite this year. West Aurora and Glenbard North figure to be among the teams in the upper tier of the division. This game figures to be a nice showcase of forwards, Juwan Starks for West and Josh Fleming for North. The Blackhawks are riding high off a 71-59 win over Naperville Central, while the Panthers turned a few heads with a 59-55 victory over rival Glenbard East last Friday in Lombard.

St. Charles East (5-2) @ No. 17 Elgin (7-1), 7:30 p.m.

Could we have another Fab Four lurking? Arie Williams, Dennis Moore, Cortez Scott, Devin Gilliam and Kory Brown are the foursome that have kept the Maroons rolling all season. Each one of them scored in double-figures Tuesday night as Elgin beat Burlington Central 73-41. St. Charles East should cause a few more problems. They looked impressive in their last contest, a 56-43 decision over Geneva. They have Purdue recruit Kendall Stephens and an improving supporting cast.
No. 3 Proviso East (7-0) @ Hinsdale South (3-4), 7:30 p.m.

The Hornets got a much-needed win Tuesday night against Argo, winning 64-51. Their attack revolves around guard Phil George and center Brock Benson (both scored in double-figures in the win over the Argonauts). Can they hang with the Proviso East? St. Louis-bound Keith Carter, Sterling Brown and the rest of the third-ranked team, CSNs Muscle Milk Team of the Week, figure to be one of the states elite.
Willowbrook (1-5) @ No. 6 Downers Grove South (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the No. 6 Mustangs are to keep pace with the Proviso Easts and the Mortons in the West Suburban gold conference, they need to take care of league games like this on their home court. Senior guard Jerron Wilbut is coming off a 20-point performance last Friday in a win against Morton in Cicero. The Warriors will try to get back on the winning track; Fridays game represents the first in a three-game-in-five-night stretch.
Lake Forest (3-4) @ No. 4 Warren (6-1), 7:30 p.m.

If the fourth-ranked Blue Devils are to send retiring head coach Chuck Ramsey out in style, this figures to be the perfect year to do so. Warren is stacked this year, with seniors Nathan Boothe (C) and forward Darius Paul (F) at the controls. Warren is coming off a 61-45 win over Mundelein. Lake Forest has an interesting story in freshman Evan Boudreaux, who is playing on the varsity level for the Scouts. He scored 13 points in a losing effort Saturday against Zion-Benton.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment. This week, be sure to check out CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the Proviso East Pirates. Well tell you why two of the famed Three Amigos are helping lead the boys from Maywood to a possible trip to Peoria in March (and no, were not talking about Chevy Chase, Martin Short or Steve Martin).

High School Lites streams live every Friday on CSNChicago.com. Its also where you can find: Drive 2011, the story of the Simeon Wolverines. This weeks journey takes us to Wednesdays tilt against Carver High School.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well by leaving comments at the bottom of this story. Also, please note that this weeks show will appear after our BlackhawksDucks coverage and SportsNet Central.

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

Are Cubs feeling drained? The clubhouse is divided

For the second straight week, Kyle Schwarber halted his postgame media scrum to get something off his chest.

Standing at his locker — the same spot he stood exactly a week prior — the Cubs slugger got about as forceful as he's ever been with the cameras rolling.

Are the Cubs drained right now?

"Never. Nope. Not at all," Schwarber said. "I'll shut you down right there — we're not running out of gas at all."

Really? 

You gotta admire Schwarber's grit. He's got that linebacker/football mentality still locked and loaded in mid-October after a brutal first three games of the NLCS.

But...come on. The Cubs aren't drained? They're not tired or weary or mentally fatigued?

Schwarber says no, but it doesn't look that way on the field. They look like the high point of the season was that epic Game 5 in D.C. It was one of the craziest baseball games ever played, very reminsicent of Game 7 in last year's World Series.

Only one thing: Game 7 was the ultimate last game. They left it all on the field and that was cool because there was no more season left. Last week's wacky contest wasn't the final game of the season. It was just the final game of the FIRST series of the postseason.

So if the Cubs aren't feeling any weariness — emotional, physical, mental or otherwise — they must be superhuman.

Yet Anthony Rizzo — the face of the franchise — backed Schwarber's sentiment.

"I'm 28 years old right now," Rizzo said. "I could run laps around this place right now. I've got a great job for a living to play baseball.

"We have a beautiful life playing baseball. You gotta keep that in perspective. So if you wanna try to get mentally tired, realize what we're doing."

Rizzo talked that talk, but his performance on the field has hit a wall. After his "Respect Me!" moment in Game 3 of the NLDS, Rizzo went hitless in his next 16 at-bats before a harmless single Tuesday night. He then struck out in his final trip to the plate.

Bryzzo's other half — Kris Bryant — actually took the opposite stance of his teammates.

"Yeah, [that Washington series] was pretty draining, I think," Bryant admitted. "Some good games there that I think were pretty taxing for our bullpen and pitchers, too. 

"Kinda expect that around this time of year. The games mean a lot."

It's not surprising to hear those words from Bryant. In fact, it wouldn't even be mildly shocking to hear every player in the clubhouse share the same point of view.

The Cubs played all the way past Halloween last fall, then hit the town, having epic celebrations, going on TV shows, having streets named after them, etc. 

Then, before you know it, there's Cubs Convention again. And shortly after that, pitchers and catchers report. 

From there, the "title defense" season began, featuring a lackluster first half and a second half that took a tremendous amount of energy just to stave off the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central and get into the postseason.

Oh yeah, and then that series with the Nationals where the Cubs squeaked out a trio of victories by the slimest of margins.

These Cubs have never really had anything resembling a break. 

However, they're now just one game away from getting that rest they so badly need (and deserve).

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

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USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

Ben Zobrist didn’t look for any deeper meaning in Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning homer off Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, or hope that one swing could change the entire momentum of this National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zobrist knows what it takes to win in October, the Cubs identifying him as the missing piece to their lineup after he helped transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into a championship team, and then getting a World Series MVP return on their $56 million investment.

That “Schwarbomb” turned out to be fool’s gold, the only run the Cubs would score in front of a quiet, low-energy crowd of 41,871, the defending champs one more loss away from golfing/hunting/fishing/signing autographs at memorabilia shows.

“That was great to get a homer, but I’d rather see some hits strung together,” Zobrist said after a sloppy 6-1 loss, standing at his locker for almost 10 minutes, answering questions in the underground clubhouse. “I’d like to see a couple doubles together, a few singles, three or four hits in an inning. We just haven’t done that.

“That’s what makes rallies. They’ve stayed away from those kinds of innings. That’s why they’re ahead right now.”

Darvish – Jake Arrieta’s replacement in the 2018 rotation? – canceled out the two singles he allowed in the first inning by getting two of his seven strikeouts and answering some of the questions about how he would respond to all the pressure in October.

Darvish – a trade-deadline acquisition that had echoes of Theo Epstein’s “If not now, when?” explanation for last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade – walked one of the 25 batters he faced and pitched into the seventh inning before handing the game over to a lights-out bullpen.

“There’s nothing that we didn’t see beforehand on video,” Zobrist said. “It’s just a matter of we need him to make more mistakes, and we got to take advantage of those mistakes when he makes them.

“When he got to 3-2 counts, he wasn’t throwing a heater. He was throwing the cutter, and it’s a tough pitch to hit. You have to sit on it, and even then it’s got good movement to it. He kept us off-balance.”

Forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts is at the controls of a Los Angeles bullpen that can match up against right- and left-handed hitters, target locations, unleash upper-90s velocity, execute the elevated fastball that messes with eye levels and lean on All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for multiple innings.

The Dodger relievers essentially put together a no-hitter that lasted nine-plus innings across Games 1, 2 and 3. Together, they have pitched 10.2 scoreless innings, facing 36 batters and allowing two hits and a walk and hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.

“They kept the ball on the edges and kept us off-balance,” Zobrist said. “They’re not throwing the pitch in the middle of the plate when we need them to. They’re keeping it on the edges and those are hard (to hit). When you got guys with good stuff on the mound, you need them to make some mistakes for you, or at least start walking some guys.

“When they’ve gotten in those situations with a three-ball count, they’re still making the pitch when they need to. They’re not walking many guys – and we are.

“That’s why they’re up 3-nothing.”

Zobrist (4-for-23 this postseason) is now more of a part-time player/defensive replacement, no longer the switch-hitting force who dropped the bunt at Dodger Stadium that helped end the 21-inning scoreless streak during last year’s NLCS.

Zobrist insisted the Cubs are still all there mentally, not checked out after a grueling first round against the Washington Nationals and a brutal walk-off loss in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. He owns two World Series rings and one has the Cubs logo and this inscription: “We Never Quit.”

“We keep it loose all the time,” Zobrist said. “We know what’s at stake. And we don’t shy away from it. We look forward to the challenge ahead. It would be a great story for us to be able to come back in this series and win this series.

“We make adjustments, we take advantage of mistakes and we come out with a victory tomorrow. That’s what we have to do.”