Bulls

High School Lites: Week 5 preview

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High School Lites: Week 5 preview

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
Posted: 8:54 p.m.

By Joe Collins & Mike Clark
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your home for prep football coverage in Chicagoland. We will bring you highlights of as many as 15 games across the area, including a few marquee battles in the south suburbs. Homewood-Flossmoor tangles with Bolingbrook, while Sandburg travels to Lincoln-Way East. Who will survive in the Southwest Suburban Blue conference?

Also, Brother Rice gave St. Rita all they could handle last week. Will they have enough in the tank against Mount Carmel? And will the Maine South train keep chugging along? The top-ranked Hawks are up against a homecoming crowd at New Trier. Here is a sneak-peak of each game we will cover during Friday nights show:

THURSDAY GAMES

Mather 33, Prosser 14

So much for last years 1-8 season. Mather is off to a 4-1 start after beating Prosser (2-3) in Big Shoulders conference play Thursday at Hanson Stadium. Raheem Mills, Kendrick Watkins and Curtis Walker each found the end zone for the Rangers, who got off to a 26-0 lead and never looked back. Mather takes on Taft next Friday at Winnemac Stadium. Prosser will try to rebound next Friday against Clemente.

Robeson 56, Amundsen 0

The Raiders (5-0) continue to be a force in the Public League. Running back Devon Sanders tore through the Vikings defense with ease, scoring five touchdowns (four rushing) and accumulating 195 total yards at Stagg Field on Thursday. Robeson will look for win number six next Friday against Morgan Park. Amundsen (2-3) had, arguably, one of the greatest wins in school history last week against Morgan Park. They could not continue the momentum, as they trailed 36-0 at the half. Amundsen takes on Hubbard next Thursday at Gately.

FRIDAY GAMES

No. 14 Crete-Monee (4-0) @ Kankakee (0-4), 6:00 p.m.

The 14th-ranked Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of 42-11. Their offense was nearly unstoppable last week against Glenbard South. Running back Kenneth Kidd piled up 108 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Marcus Terrell had four touchdowns himself. Crete-Monee also features Michigan-bound cornerback Anthony Standifer. If the 0-4 Kays have anything going for them, it has to be motivation: they will be looking for revenge after last years heartbreaking 21-14 loss to C-M.

Brother Rice (3-1) @ No. 3 Mount Carmel (4-0), 7:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Now that Mount Carmel head coach Frank Lenti has become the all-time winningest coach in Illinois history, will his Caravan ease off the gas a bit? Doubt it. Running back Brandon Greer and quarterback Don Butkus have been on a tear this season. That said, they can't sleep on this year's Brother Rice squad. The Crusaders took St. Rita to the final minute, falling 21-17. Keep an eye on the Walkers in the backfield, Martez and Andrew.

Tinley Park (4-0) @ No. 19 Lemont (4-0), 7:00 p.m.

Well, something has to give. Will it be the Tinley Park offense, guided by quarterback Kyle Sheridan, whose team is scoring 49 points per game? Or will it be Lemont's defense, who has only given up six points on the entire season? The game could be decided with the Indians offense matching up against the Titans defense. Tinley Park looks for a marquee win, Lemont looks to avoid a home upset. Lemont outlasted the Titans 37-33 last season.

Plainfield South (3-1) @ Minooka (2-2), 7:00 p.m.

Its only the fifth week, but its a critical one if youre a member of the Southwest Prairie conference. Plainfield South, Minooka and Oswego are all tied at 2-0 in league play. These two teams starred in epic battles last season, where South took a 41-31 decision in the regular season and then Minooka got even in the playoffs, winning 41-38. Kalvin Hill, the speedy running back for the host Indians, is worth the price of admission. Plainfield South has a solid, go-to receiver in Dantrell Wright.

No. 1 Maine South (4-0) @ New Trier (3-0), 7:30 p.m.

Top-ranked Maine South figures to have minimal obstacles on the road to the playoffs this year, but they might have an unsuspecting pothole or two at New Trier. First, its homecoming for the Trevians, so expect a charged-up crowd. Second, N-T is riding a three-game winning streak, including a 62-0 dismantling of Maine West last week. Jack Nykaza is one of the top quarterbacks in the Central Suburban South, as is Hawks QB Matt Alviti. The Maine South junior tossed three touchdowns in last weeks 42-6 win over Niles North.

Glenbrook South (3-1) @ Evanston (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

If it does end up being a fight for second in the Central Suburban South, then this game is nothing short of critical. The Wildkits and the Titans figure to be in the race for that spot. Evanston steamrolled Glenbrook North 35-7 last week, in large part to RBLB Ray Bahr. He scored three touchdowns, one of them off a blocked punt. GBS running back Kevin Schroeder needs to be contained, he scored five touchdowns in the Titans last game, a 63-12 win against Maine East.

Fremd (2-2) @ Conant (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Consider it a football renaissance, of sorts, at Conant. The Cougars tallied consecutive 2-7 records in 2009 and 2010, but have sprinted out of the gate this year. Their defense, which held Hersey to 41 yards rushing last week and forced six turnovers against Buffalo Grove, is one of the many reasons theyre 4-0. Quarterback Matt Cullen has come through as well. Fremds A.J. McGhee guided the Vikings to a 31-10 win over Buffalo Grove last week.

Providence (3-1) @ No. 11 St. Rita (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Pivotal Catholic League Blue matchup features an 11th-ranked Mustangs team who survived a scare from Brother Rice last week. Charles Elmore intercepted a pass in the final minute to preserve the victory. Providence will need to key in on Rita receiver Kenny Golladay to stay within striking distance. On the offensive side of the ball, the visiting Celtics figure to do a lot of running. They feature one of the top offensive lineman in the state, Iowa recruit Ryan Ward.

East Aurora (0-4) @ Streamwood (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

If you havent noticed, theres quite a story unfolding in northwest suburban Streamwood. The Sabres havent been to the playoffs since 2003. In fact, they havent had a winning record since 1998. Both dubious marks could come to an end this season, and they have senior running back Alex Morrow to thank for a large part of that. His 129 yards rushing and a touchdown helped Streamwood beat St. Charles North for the first time since 2001. East Aurora has to shore up their defense in order to have a chance. Theyve given up nearly 50 points per game.

No. 17 Morris (4-0) @ Yorkville (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

Say what you want about the prestige of the Southwest Suburban Blue, the Catholic Blue or the DuPage Valley. Take a look at the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Incredibly, five of the six teams are unbeaten (4-0). One will have a blemish after Friday night. Will it be the Foxes, who are off to their best start since 1999 and feature talented running back Neil OBrien? Or will it be the 17th-ranked Redskins, who are a consistent well-oiled football machine having gone to nine state title games since 1979?

No. 13 Bolingbrook (4-0) @ No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

The game of the night in Chicagoland this Friday. H-F figures to be an angry bunch, coming off a loss to No. 4 Lincoln-Way East on their home field. Quarterback Tim Williams is a threat, along with running back Taje Smith and wide receiver Sean Jones. Bolingbrook is averaging 47 points per game, but their defense is anchored by one of the top linebackers in the state, Butkus Award candidate Antonio Morrison. The winner of this game figures to keep pace in the SW Suburban Blue with the winner of.

Sandburg (4-0) @ No. 4 Lincoln-Way East (4-0), 7:30 p.m.

A lot of people figured the 4th-ranked Griffins would be undefeated at this point. But Sandburg? The Eagles got a huge road win last week against Lincoln-Way Central off a late touchdown from Anthony Adams to Nick Lehnerer. The Sandburg running game is solid, with Lemont Booker a constant threat. And solid would be an understatement in describing the Lincoln-Way East offense, who feature quarterback Blake Winkler and receiver J.J. Robertson. They had their way with a talented Homewood-Flossmoor team in week four.

Aurora Christian (4-0) @ Montini (2-2), 7:30 p.m.

We should find out where Montinis 2011 season is heading after Fridays game against Don Beebes Aurora Christian Eagles. A win, and WR Jordan Westerkamp and company figure to have a turnaround at hand. A loss, and the two-time state champs are in tailspin mode, with winning teams (St. Francis and St. Edward) lurking. Aurora Christian is the real deal: they have already blanked two opponents and feature an offense that is putting up over 45 points per game. (NOTE: these highlights will be shown exclusively on csnchicago.com)

Also: tune in to check out our Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the 4-0 Streamwood Sabres. SHS went a combined 8-56 since 2004. What has been the key to the dramatic turnaround? We will spend some time with head coach Cal Cummings and his players who are starting to believe.

We will also tell you how text messaging can actually help prevent injuries on the high school football field this season. Well have scoreboards from across Chicagoland and take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment.

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

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.