Bulls

Highlighting High School Lites

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Highlighting High School Lites

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

Chicagoland prep basketball is home on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Public League has the spotlight this week, as well hit key rivalry games in Simeon vs. Morgan Park and Whitney Young vs. Farragut. Plus, our cameras will take you to the Southland Conference for a pivotal battle between Crete-Monee and Bloom. Who wins the battle of Naperville? And will Bogans solid run continue? Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover on this Fridays edition of High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by The Marines:

FRIDAY GAMES
Morgan Park (8-4) @ No. 1 Simeon (14-0), 4:00pm

The biggest challenge for Simeon Friday will be avoiding the temptation to look ahead to Sundays epic showdown with Nevadas Findlay Prep, a team like Simeon that is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Jabari Parker and Simeon come into the Battle of Vincennes off a 95-61 thrashing of Brooks on Wednesday. Talented junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. will lead the Morgan Park attack. The Mustangs, paced by Garretts 30 points, were victorious Wednesday against Vocational.
Brooks (6-11) @ No. 8 Bogan (15-1), 5:30pm
Luwane Pipkins, Kendall Wesley, Juwan Henry and Devonte Smith continue to cause fits for every Bogan opponent. The Bengals ran past Corliss Wednesday 99-38. Pipkins finished with 23. If Bogan wins, they will join either Simeon or Morgan Park as the lone undefeateds in the Red South conference. Brooks is in rare companyand not necessarily in a good way. Friday will mark their third straight game against a top 10 opponent (Tuesday- De La Salle, Wednesday- Simeon).

No. 16 Whitney Young (7-5.) @ Farragut (7-5), 5:30pm

Classic Red-West rivalry game on the west side. Is Whitney Youngs sophomore center Jahlil Okafor a future No. 1 draft pick? One writer thinks he has the potential to become one. Okafor is proving his case for multiple awards on the high school level this season, as hes carrying a team that has been limited due to injuries to Tommy Hamilton and Paul White. Rashaun Stimage is the heart and soul of the Farragut attack. The senior center racked up another double-double (19 points, 10 boards) Wednesday in a loss to Marshall.
Crete-Monee (11-3) @ No. 14 Bloom (14-2), 6:30pm

It's a good thing that Crete-Monee will have two days to rest up for Bloom. They were on the winning end of a triple overtime marathon Tuesday night against Thornwood, 74-63. Illinois recruit Michael Orris was clutch, hitting a key 3 in the third overtime. He, along with teammates Marvie Keith and LaQuan Treadwell will be eager to challenge a Bloom team that ran out to a 19-0 lead against Joliet Central Tuesday, winning 55-35. Senior guard Donald Moore leads the Blazing Trojans in a game that could go a long way in deciding the Southland conference.
Rich East (6-10) @ No. 20 Rich South (14-4), 6:30pm

Crete-Monee and Bloom have company in the Southland conference. The Stars got their biggest win of the year last week in a buzzer-beater against Bloom, avenging an earlier loss to the Blazing Trojans in the McDipper Tournament. Center John Ruffin and forward Marquell Small should get a lot of looks. The Rockets are coming off a nice 57-41 win over Kankakee. Ronald Lawton, Raheem Jackson and 6-foot-5 forward Shamond Kemp will create challenges for South.
Prairie Ridge (4-11) @ No. 13 Huntley (13-1), 7:00pm

The Red Raiders are proving to be one of the nice success stories in the northwest suburbs this season. They haven't taken their foot off the gas yet, as Tuesday's 43-33 win over Crystal Lake South would indicate. Six-foot-six phenom Amanze Egekeze, who is attracting attention from several Division I schools, is their go-to guy. Prairie Ridge played well against Dundee-Crown Tuesday night but faded down the stretch, losing 51-40. Luke Keller had 13 points for the Wolves and will look for more on Friday.

Grayslake Central (10-5) @ Hampshire (8-7), 7:00pm

The 8-7 Whips might have the quietest six-game winning streak around. They took four straight at the DeKalb Holiday tournament, and won two more over Fox Valley conference foes to start the new year. Tyler Crater, Brock Ralphs and Tyler Watzlawick are all key contributors for Hampshire. Grayslake Central will also come in with momentum, as they defeated Woodstock 73-53 Tuesday night. Senior center Casey Boyle, who scored 16 for the Rams in the victory, will get a lot of looks Friday night as well.
Leo (9-6) @ Brother Rice (10-5), 7:30pm

Speaking of quiet winning streaks, the Leo Lions have rattled off five straight victories. Their latest effort was a 69-65 overtime thriller on Tuesday against Hales. Brother Rice will need to contain Leos senior center Russell Woods. He tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds in the game against Hales. The Crusaders have a few weapons of their own in Garrett ONeill, Alex Majewski and Sean Fitzpatrick. Each team needs a win to keep pace with Seton in the Catholic South.
Naperville Central (10-4) @ Naperville North (10-4), 7:30pm

This battle of Naperville doesnt receive the headlines that the football game gets, but this matchup should go a long way in deciding the fate of an up-for-grabs DuPage Valley. North is on a roll, off to a 5-0 start in conference, highlighted by Saturdays 53-51 win over then-first place West Aurora. Mike Keane, Derek Westman and Matt Stachio are key contributors for the Huskies. Central, 2-3 in conference and winners of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, is paced by sophomore center Nick Czarnowski.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. This week's episode will air just after the Bulls-Celtics game and SportsNet Central. 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, Huntley. Forget junior or senior leadership: a sophomore is guiding the Red Raiders to the upper echelon of the rankings. Also, we'll have the latest on the top-ranked Simeon Wolverines in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than.

High School Lites streams live every Friday on csnchicago.com.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Seth Gruen and Ben Finfer join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bulls win again. Do they dare think playoffs? Vincent Goodwill joins the guys to discuss.

Plus, they debate where the “Minneapolis Miracle” ranks amongst the greatest plays in NFL playoff history and if Tom Ricketts is right to say that Sammy Sosa needs to put everything on the table to rejoin the Cubs family.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Humorous things we learned at Cubs Convention

Humorous things we learned at Cubs Convention

One of the best things about Cubs Convention is the access fans and media have to the team and the state of mind the players possess in mid-January.

At this point, they’ve had time away from the field to rest and relax with their family and friends and as Anthony Rizzo says “no one is oh for four yet.” While workouts are in full swing, few have started hitting or pitching at this point in their off-season schedule, so “baseball talk” is not always priority. Instead, this is when we get to hear fun stories and entertaining tidbits about these players.

It’s no secret this team genuinely enjoys being around one and other and that the camaraderie is on full display for fans as they interact and poke fun at one and other during the question and answer panels. So, for those that may have missed the weekend’s festivities here are a few humorous things we learned about the Cubs:

  • When asked about a celebrity crushes, Anthony Rizzo coaxed Javier Baez into a J-Lo response while Kyle Schwarber weighed out his options before coming up with Katy Perry. That was “until she shaved her hair off and now looks like Eleven from Stranger Things!”
  • Schwarber’s name has consumed the recent headlines following his physical transformation this winter, but he isn’t the only Cub who dropped some weight this off-season. Those that got a picture or autograph from Ian Happ over the weekend should have noticed a slimmer physique as well. Happ told me “you have to look and feel your best for your first full season.” And when it comes to all the trade rumors involving his name, he said he’s been too busy golfing and working out this offseason to pay any attention.
  • During a one-on-one interview with new Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood, he gave us his best scouting report on himself, “four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, I’ll throw my curveball a lot more. That’s always been my best pitch and I kind of got away from it a little bit, but I’m going to be throwing that a lot more. Cutter and a changeup, too. So, you know, try to trick them with something.” And when asked which Cubs player he’s most interested in meeting, his response was Kris Bryant. “Just watching him it seems like he does everything cool.”
  • Addison Russell recalled his favorite memory or most funny moment of 2017 as the exchange with Nacho Man. Bringing Cubs and Cardinals fans together over nacho cheese and selfies. The All-Star shortstop also informed us that if he weren’t playing major league baseball, his fallback would be, a dart player. That’s right.
  • After being left off the panel of last year’s Kids Only Press Conference, Anthony Rizzo asked to be the host this year. “It’s my favorite event of the weekend,” Rizzo said. The Cubs first baseman did a tremendous job, toeing the line between appropriate parent/child humor. And after a few minutes of trash talking with Kris Bryant, Rizzo conceded that the younger Bryzzo partner would likely beat him in a one-on-one pickup game. Something I’m sure we’ll see a few weeks from now in Mesa at Spring Training.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Willson Contreras stole the weekend as he recalled the best defensive play of 2017 being Jon Lester’s pickoff of Tommy Pham. “I went out there and said hey motherfu**** throw the ball to first.” A moment that left his teammates on stage shaking their heads in disbelief. But our takeaway: the young, fiery catcher is not intimidated working with the veteran lefty, and he’s just the guy you want behind the plate for this experienced rotation.

After an easy going weekend full of laughs and selfies, the players now buckle in and turn their attention to spring training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa in less than a month.