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High School Lites preview: Playoffs - Week 2

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High School Lites preview: Playoffs - Week 2

128 down. 128 still alive. Who will advance to Illinois' version of the final 64?

Comcast SportsNet will have a camera at every high school football game in the Chicagoland area Friday night in week two of the IHSA playoffs. Many sports fans didn't figure Downers Grove North would make it to the second round. Can they pull off another stunner in Harvey? It's a border war in the southwest suburbs as Bolingbrook takes on their Naperville rivals, Neuqua Valley. And we'll profile another revenge game on the north shore. Lake Forest took down Lakes by a touchdown in the regular season. Who wins the Lake battle this time around?

Here is a snapshot of each game we will profile on Fridays edition of High School Lites. The rankings reflect the class seeds in the IHSA playoffs:

8A:

No. 1 Neuqua Valley (10-0) at No. 9 Bolingbrook (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

Storylines abound in this 8A thriller: Border war between Naperville and Bolingbrook. Will Bolingbrook QB Aaron Baileys be 100 after knee injury in week six? Can Joey Rhattigan and the Neuqua offense be stopped? Does Neuqua know that a potential rematch with Waubonsie could be in the cards next week? Whatever angle you pick, this game should be one of the best second round matchups. Bolingbrook took down Sandburg 39-7 last week; Neuqua beat Naperville North 56-20.

No. 3 Mount Carmel (9-1) vs. No. 6 Simeon (8-1), 7:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Mount Carmel and Simeon have become quite familiar with one another over the years. They met twice last year; Mount Carmel has won four of the last five in the series. If Simeon is to defeat the Caravan, they are going to have to shut down option attack led by quarterback Don Butkus and running backs Matt Domer and Draco Smith. Simeon defeated Bloom last week 13-10. Quarterback Elcee Burke and Sharoid Roach, two of the heroes in that win, look to lead the Wolverines.

7A:

No. 5 Wheaton North (9-1) at No. 13 Prospect (7-3), 7:00 p.m.

Its been a tale of two seasons for Prospect. Their defense, trampled early and often in the first six weeks, has turned a 180 over the last four games. The Knights stepped up to fend off a good Glenbrook North rushing attack last week. Their workload will increase second round. Wheaton North has a dynamic offense with many capable athletes. Patrick Sharp, Clayton Thorson, John Peltz and Matt Biegalski are four names you will hear frequently when the Falcons have the ball.

No. 8 Downers Grove North (6-4) at No. 5 Thornton (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

Is it too early to call Downers Grove North a Cinderella story? They notched one of the biggest upsets in the state last week, throttling top-seed Batavia. Can they win against Thornton? Sophomore quarterback David Edwards and running back Brandon Salter 224 yards last weekwill face a Thornton team that is very familiar with playoff football. Veteran head coach Bill Mosel has playmakers in twin brothers Jamal & Jason Towns and quarterback JoWahn Brown.

No. 3 Oswego (9-1) at No. 2 Benet (9-1), 7:30 p.m.

The key matchup here is Oswegos potent offense going up against a Benet defense that has limited offensive-minded opponents like Marist and Joliet Catholic in check. The Redwings forced two key second half turnovers in last weeks 24-10 win over Andrew and sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi made plays. Oswego, averaging 41 points per game, advanced by beating Plainfield North. Wide receiver Jack Kwiatkowski and running back Mickeel Stewart need to be contained.

6A:

No. 14 Notre Dame (6-4) vs. No. 11 Steinmetz (7-2), 6:00 p.m. at Hanson Stadium

The 7-2 Silver Streaks turned the tables on Foreman, a team that beat them in the regular season, in a 26-12 opening round victory. The defense forced five turnovers and quarterback Michael Harris scored three rushing touchdowns. As for Notre Dame, theyre looking to ride the momentum of an incredible performance by running back Chris James. He tallied 323 yards and a jaw-dropping seven touchdowns in a 46-27 victory over Grayslake North. It was the Dons first playoff victory since 1997.

No. 5 Grant (8-2) at No. 4 Crystal Lake Central (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

After winning only eight games from 1998-2005, the Crystal Lake Central program has bounced back. This is their fifth playoff appearance in the last seven seasons. Theyre coming off a 49-7 win over Hyde Park where Matt MacAlpine, back from a leg injury, rushed for three touchdowns. Grant has lost a few offensive weapons due to injuries, but sophomore Jeremy Bredwood filled in nicely last week. The wingback scored four touchdowns as the Bulldogs defeated Lake View 59-0.

No. 1 Oak Forest (9-1) at No. 5 Shepard (7-3), 7:00 p.m.

These two schools are only separated by a seven minute drive, so expect a jubilant crowd on both sides. The 9-1 Bengals might be peaking at the right time. They've given up a touchdown or less in three of their last four games. And they love to run the ball. Ben Santiago and Tyler Usterbowski both ran for over 100 yards in last week's 29-0 win over Hinsdale South. Shepard passes the ball a lot more than Oak Forest. The Astros have a fine QB-WR duo in Jimmy McClinton and Londell Lee.

No. 2 Lakes (9-1) at No. 10 Lake Forest (7-3), 7:30 p.m.

If "20-13" isn't plastered on every locker at Lakes High School, something is wrong. That was the final score on September 7th, when Lake Forest beat the Eagles in Lake Villa. But since that defeat, Lakes has scored the following point totals: 60, 35, 69, 42, 56, 62 and 35. Running back Direll Clark is their go-to on offense. But the Scouts have an opportunistic defense (four interceptions last week against Rolling Meadows) and a talented quarterback in Andrew Clifford.

4A:

No. 1 AustinVOISE Academy (9-0) at No. 5 Brooks (7-2), 7:00 p.m. at Lane Stadium

Brooks might be the best team you haven't heard from yet. Their only defeats: a one point loss to 5A juggernaut Kaneland and a 33-28 setback to an 8-2 Rock Island squad. They have a fine 1-2 punch on offense with quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw and running back Josh Smith. But the undefeated Tigers don't need to hear any of that. They have the defense (five shutouts on the year) and are scoring over 42 points per game. Willie McCullum, a two-way player, has stepped up nicely.

Our High School Lites crew did a little road-tripping this week. We made our way to Ottawa to bring you a story of how this Illinois town has come together to support two playoff teams. Our Muscle Milk Team of the Week is Bolingbrook. The Raiders were thought to have major challenges once star quarterback Aaron Bailey went down with an injury. But sophomore backup quarterback Quincy Woods is putting quite a stamp on the season. Plus, well also catch you up with Joliet Catholic in this weeks Drive segment, presented by Northern Illinois University. And well take a drive down Memory Lane in Flashback and bring you up-to-the-minute scores from across Chicagoland.

High School Lites airs at 10:30pm this Friday night and streams live at CSNChicago.com. The show will re-air on Saturday morning at 7:30 and 8:30.

Follow CSNChicago.com preps writer Joe Collins on Twitter: @JoeCSN.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: highschoollites@comcastsportsnet.com

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Tracey Myers and Jamal Mayers join Pat Boyle to discuss the teams wins over the Rangers and Penguins.  Have they figured some things out and what is the identity of this team after 20 games?

Jammer weighs in on Artem Anisimov’s big week and are there enough Hawks committed to net front presence?  They also discuss the surging play of the blue liners and did the Hawks fail to send a message to Evgeni Malkin, after he kneed Corey Crawford in the head?

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

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USA TODAY

Lauri Markkanen, Lonzo Ball making rookie history as they prepare to face each other

It'd be a stretch to say that any rookie is having a better or more impactful season than Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The Sixers are 9-7, and Simmons looks like a 10-year veteran with his decision making, athleticism and all-around feel for the game. He's the frontrunner for MVP, but there are two other rookies vying to catch Simmons and win that title. And they'll face each other tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Lonzo Ball was the second pick in June's NBA Draft, and fellow Pac-12 freshman standout Lauri Markkanen went five picks later to the Bulls, who had traded up as part of the Jimmy Butler trade. Both players were drafted to rebuilding franchises - the Lakers still working out the kinks in the post-Kobe era, and the Bulls beginning their rebuild after dealing Butler - and were expected to make immediate impacts on their franchises.

Ball's was more pronounced, as the Lakers dealt D'Angelo Russell to the Nets on draft night to free up space at the point for their prized No. 2 pick. Markkanen's came more abruptly, as the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting lineup after Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic's fight put Mirotic in the hospital and Portis on paid leave. However they got there, both players have been impressive in their early NBA careers.

Starting with Markkanen, the Bulls knew the 7-foot stretch forward was a perfect build for the modern NBA. He set freshman 3-point and rebounding records that, since 1992, only some guy named Kevin Durant had reached. After a successful summer in Eurobasket he was set for a large role with the Bulls, and he's succeeded in just about every aspect. His 15.6 points per game are third only to Simmons and the other Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, and his 8.1 rebounds are second to Simmons. And his 2.6 made 3-pointers per game are most among rookies, and well past No. 2 on the list (Utah's Donovan Mitchell, 1.9 per game).

In fact, Markkanen would become the only rookie in NBA history to average at least 8.0 rebounds and 2.5 3-pointers per game. The 2.5 3-pointers would break a rookie record currently held by Damian Lillard (2.3 per game). The closest a rookie has ever come to reaching those marks was Stephen Curry, who averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per game as a rookie. Allen Iverson also met the 4/2 threshold, but that's a far cry from Markkanen's 8/2.5 mark. Paul Pierce's rookie season saw him average 6.4 rebounds and 1.8 3-pointers.

But that's not all. If he kept those averages up he would be just the fifth player EVER to accomplish those thresholds. The others are James Harden, Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins and Antonie Walker, who naturally did it twice.

So, yeah, Markkanen is having quite a rookie year.

So, too, is Ball. While he's had some real issues with efficiency, slashing .313/.228/.462 and has committed 2.6 turnovers per game, his counting stats have been outstanding. Ball is averaging 8.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists, and that puts him in equally impressive company.

Simmons has reached those numbers this season, too, averaging 18.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.0 assists. You may have heard of the other two players, named Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.

The two future Hall of Famers averaged these numbers:

Robertson: 30.5 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.7 assists (missing averaging a triple-double for the season by 20 assists)

Johnson: 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists

Ball is also averaging 0.9 blocks, and no other rookie guard has ever accomplished that. It might not always look pretty for Markkanen and Ball as they feel their way out in the NBA, but just remember watching these two that they're in the midst of making history in the new era of the NBA.