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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Posted 10:30 p.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school sports in Chicagoland. This Fridays edition of High School Lites will feature three epic matchups: Hales-De La Salle, Proviso East-Downers Grove South and the city championship between Brooks and Whitney Young. We will also preview Saturdays City-Suburban Showdown at the UIC Pavilion, which features 1 Simeon taking on 2 Benet. Also, David Kaplan tells us about one suburban girls basketball coach who hasnt let cancer get in the way of her achievements on the court. Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover Friday night. All rankings courtesy of YourSeason.com:

Rich South @ Bloom, 6:30pm

High-flying Depaul recruit Macari Brooks is one of the reasons Rich South (14-7, 5-4) could go deeper in the playoffs than most teams. He contributed 22 points and eight rebounds in the Stars 48-43 win over Thornwood on Tuesday. Bloom (14-8, 7-1) will need to contain Brooks if they want to win Friday night. He did not play in the previous Bloom-Rich South battle on January 14th, which was won by Bloom (43-26). LeJavious Jackson and Donald Moore steer the ship for the Blazing Trojans.

(9) Whitney Young vs. (5) Brooks, 7:00pm (Chicago Public League Championship at Chicago State)

Quite frankly, it wasnt the championship game most people were expecting earlier in the week. But dont blame Whitney Young, who absolutely earned the right to be there by shocking top-ranked Simeon 64-50 in Wednesdays public league semifinal. The 9th ranked Dolphins (17-9) are led by Ohio State-bound Sam Thompson. Brooks (21-3) advanced by beating Curie in the other semifinal on Wednesday, 63-60. Mike Powell and Keith Gray figure to do the heavy lifting for the Eagles.

(16) Hillcrest @ Lemont, 7:00pm

Hillcrest (17-6, 10-0) is putting together another quality season under coach Don Houston. The Hawks, 3A state champs last season, feature guards Julius Brown and LeBarron Hull. They contributed to a nice 75-49 win over T.F. South Tuesday night. Lemont (8-15, 3-8) has had a rough go of it recently but played a solid game Tuesday against a tough Stagg team, leading early before fading late in the fourth quarter. Evan Bridewell will get a lot of looks for the Indians.

Glenbard North @ West Aurora, 7:30pm

If theres one thing going for the visiting Panthers (9-13, 4-7), its momentum. Their 57-34 victory over Hoffman Estates Tuesday could facilitate a late-season push towards the upper half of the DuPage Valley conference. Thats where West Aurora (13-9, 8-3) is right now. This could be another entertaining game between GBN and WA, if their last contest serves as a blueprint. West Aurora escaped with a 55-54 victory back on January 8th. The Blackhawks Juwan Starks was the go-to guy in the previous meeting. He scored 17 points in the win.
Wheaton Academy @ Aurora Christian, 7:30pm
Keep an eye on Wheaton Academy come playoff time. The Warriors (23-1, 9-0) are on cruise control and already racked up two wins earlier this week (Guerin and Montini). They feature 6-9 center Luke Johnson and also have two 6-6 forwards on the roster. Aurora Christian (11-15, 6-3) have quality junior guards in Nick Marema and Dean Danos, a transfer from Oak Lawns Richards High School. Wes Korals game-winning bucket sealed a 55-52 victory by Wheaton Academy the last time the two teams met.

(12) Proviso East @ (11) Downers Grove South, 7:30pm

Talk about a nasty 1-2 punch. Proviso East (19-3, 9-1) gets the 11th ranked Mustangs in enemy territory Friday night and then has to turn around and face 18th ranked Lyons in the City-Suburban Showdown the following night. Sterling Brown, Keith Carter and company will be looking for revenge on DGS after falling to them 60-48 on January 21st. The Mustangs (21-3, 9-1) have quality scorers in Jerron Wilbut, Jamall Millison and 6-8 center Ziggy Riauka.

(6) Hales Franciscan @ (3) De La Salle, 7:30pm

If youre Hales, even if you contain Illinois-bound forward Mike Shaw, you still have a plethora of DLS stars to deal withAlex Foster and Dre Henley just to name a few. The good news for Hales (21-3, 8-1) is that they have one of the best brotherly love combinations aroundin Aaron and Aaric Armstead. They are exceptional talents. Shaw scored 22 points the last time these two teams hooked up --at Hales-- helping De La Salle (18-2, 8-1) to a 68-65 win. Hales Dominique Walls and the De La Salles Jaylon Tate could prove to be the x-factor in this one.

Fremd @ Conant, 7:30pm

The Mid-Suburban West title chase is arguably the best (or at least, the most intriguing) conference battle in the state. Fremd, Conant, Barrington and Schaumburg are all tied at 6-3 with one conference game remaining. Each of them can advance to the conference championship game on Wednesday. Fremd (16-8, 6-3) gets there by beating Conant Friday night, plus losses by Barrington and Schaumburg. Conant (16-7, 6-3) is in with a win over Fremd and a Barrington loss. Note: Schaumburg hosts Palatine Friday, while Barrington Hosts Hoffman Estates.

Prospect @ Buffalo Grove, 7:30pm

Now heres where it gets fun. The Mid-Suburban East could ALSO end up in a four-way tie if Buffalo Grove beats Prospect Friday night, Rolling Meadows beats Wheeling and Hersey beats Elk Grove. Prospect (15-7, 7-2) does own the peace-of-mind advantage though, because they would hold all the tiebreakers when the dust settles. Prospect took a 67-59 decision over Buffalo Grove (16-8. 6-3) in Mount Prospect on January 15th. Terry Redding scored 24 points and added 15 rebounds for the Knights in the win.

(25) Riverside-Brookfield @ Illiana Christian, 7:30pm

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs are the newcomers to the Super 25 rankings this week (18-4, 10-0). They have won six straight and wrapped up their 10th consecutive conference title last weekend with a win over Glenbard South. R-B also beat Farragut earlier in the season. They have consistent shooters from the outside and have a dominant center, 6-9 senior Alex Dziagwa. Illiana Christian (11-11, 4-6)

Check us out this Friday night after the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. High School Lites streams live at CSNChicago.com.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell is so over 2017: 'That's last year, don't want to talk about that'

MESA, Ariz. — “That’s last year, don’t want to talk about that.”

In other words, Addison Russell is so over 2017.

The Cubs shortstop went through a lot last year. He dealt with injuries that affected his foot and shoulder. He had a well-documented off-the-field issue involving an accusation of domestic abuse, which sparked an investigation by Major League Baseball. And then came the trade speculation.

The hot stove season rarely leaves any player completely out of online trade discussion. But after Theo Epstein admitted there was a possibility the Cubs could trade away one or more young position players to bolster the starting rotation, well, Russell’s name came up.

And he saw it.

“There was a lot of trade talk,” Russell said Saturday. “My initial thoughts were, I hope it doesn’t happen, but wherever I go, I’m going to try to bring what I bring to the table here. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m happy being in a Cubs uniform, I want to be in a Cubs uniform, for sure. But there was some talk out there. If I got traded, then I got traded, but that’s not the case.”

No, it’s not, as the Cubs solved those pitching questions with free-agent spending, bringing in Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood to replace the departed Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. It means Russell, along with oft-discussed names like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Javy Baez, are all still Cubs.

While the outside world might have expected one of those guys to be moved in some sort of blockbuster trade for Chris Archer or some other All-Star arm, the Cubs’ young core remains intact, another reason why they’re as much a favorite to win the World Series as any team out there.

“I’m really not surprised. The core is still here. Who would want to break that up? It’s a beautiful thing,” Russell said. “Javy and I in the middle. Schwarber, sometimes playing catcher but mainly outfield. And then (Kris Bryant) over there in the hot corner, and of course (Anthony) Rizzo at first. You’ve got a Gold Glover in right field (Jason Heyward). It’s really hard to break that up.

“When you do break that down on paper, we’ve got a lineup that could stack up with the best.”

This winter has been about moving on for Russell, who said he’s spent months working to strengthen his foot and shoulder after they limited him to 110 games last season, the fewest he played in his first three big league campaigns.

And so for Russell, the formula for returning to his 2016 levels of offensive aptitude isn’t a difficult one: stay on the field.

“Especially with the injuries, I definitely wanted to showcase some more of my talent last year than I displayed,” Russell said. “So going into this year, it’s mainly just keeping a good mental — just staying level headed. And also staying healthy and producing and being out there on the field.

“Next step for me, really just staying out there on the field. I really want to see what I can do as far as helping the team if I can stay healthy for a full season. I think if I just stay out there on the field, I’m going to produce.”

While the decrease in being on the field meant lower numbers from a “counting” standpoint — the drop from 21 homers in 2016 to 12 last year, the drop from 95 RBIs to 43 can in part be attributed to the lower number of games — certain rate stats looked different, too. His on-base percentage dropped from .321 in 2016 to .304 last year.

Russell also struggled during the postseason, picking up just six hits in 36 plate appearances in series against the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out 13 times in 10 postseason games.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. That World Series hangover was team-wide throughout the first half of the season. And even though the Cubs scored 824 runs during the regular season, the second most in the National League and the fourth most in baseball, plenty of guys had their offensive struggles: Schwarber, Heyward and Ben Zobrist, to name a few.

“You can’t take anything for granted. So whenever you win a World Series or you do something good, you just have to live in the moment,” Russell said. “It was a tough season last year because we were coming off winning the World Series and the World Series hangover and all that. This year, we had a couple months off, a couple extra weeks off, and I think a lot of guys took advantage of that. I know I did. And now that we’re here in spring training, we’re going to get back at it.”