Hillcrest claims third place in Class 3A


Hillcrest claims third place in Class 3A

By Clyde Travis

Peoria All the jitters that Hillcrest felt against Peoria Central in Fridays Class 3A semifinal disappeared against Springfield Lanphier Saturday.

The Hawks played loose and went on to defeat the Lions 72-67 to capture third place Saturday at Carver Arena.

Our girls lost the same way we did in their opening semifinal game, but they fought back to bring home the third-place trophy," Hillcrest senior Jalen Loving said, "and we wanted to do the same thing."

Hillcrest had things going its way early, racing out to a 24-8 lead in the second quarter and 33-20 halftime lead.

The Hawks continued their aggressive play in the third quarter and carried a 53-42 lead into the final period. But the Lions would not go quietly despite being down by 17 in the final period.

Lanphier clawed back and trimmed the lead to 67-62 with 1:18 to play. But a basket by Loving and two free throws by Jayone Troutman, sealed the win for the Hawks.

Loving had a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with his 15 points.

We had our pity party at dinner last night and they got it out of their system and realized that there was more basketball to be played, Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. We were in the Final Four of the state and we have a lot of things to look forward to in the future.

Brent Buchanan and Troutman each added 15 points for Hillcrest, and Javon Morning was the fourth player in double figures with 12.

Larry Austin led Lanphier with 16 points. TJ Davis scored 15 points and Everett Clemons had 14.

Lions coach Chuck Shanklin said it was Hillcrests length and athleticism that caused problems.

They are tall, long and they are quick," Shanklin said. "Our pressure did not get to them and they were able to pass over anything we were trying to do.

"Our hats go off to them. They are a great team. I am proud of my teams effort and what we accomplished this season."

Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)


Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

Atlanta Braves

2017 record: 72-90, 3rd place in NL East

Offseason additions: Preston Tucker, Charlie Culberson, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Peter Moylan, Chase Whitley, Grant Dayton, Chris Stewart, Anibal Sanchez

Offseason departures: Matt Kemp, R.A. Dickey, Jason Motte, Matt Adams

X-factor: Ozzie Albies

One of the youngest players in the league, Albies just turned 21 in January. He carries with him the pedigree of the game's No. 11 overall prospect entering last season and got his first taste of big-league life toward the end of 2017.

He hit well, posting a .286 average and .810 OPS while showing an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and providing some pop and speed.

Assuming he can avoid any sophomore slump and take another step forward, the Braves could actually surprise some people this year. But without Albies providing Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman some lineup support until a certain phenom gets to town, it's hard to see Atlanta contending.

Projected lineup

1. Ender Inciarte - CF
2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
4. Tyler Flowers - C
5. Nick Markakis - RF
6. Preston Tucker - LF
7. Dansby Swanson - SS
8. Rio Ruiz - 3B

Projected rotation

1. Julio Teheran
2. Mike Foltynewicz
3. Brandon McCarthy
4. Sean Newcomb
5. Scott Kazmir


The Braves are coming, you guys. 

Maybe not now, but they'll be here soon enough.

2018 will feature growing pains for a young group of up-and-comers including the aforementioned Albies, plus Tucker (a powerful outfielder acquired from the Astros), Swanson (the 2015 No. 1 overall pick who's since fallen on tough times) and Newcomb.

Oh and there's some guy named Ronald Acuna coming up next. You may have heard of him.

The 20-year-old phenom has absolutely torn the cover off the ball everywhere he's gone the last 14 or so months and we'll see the game's No. 1 overall prospect in the big leagues in mid-April, God willing.

Once Acuna does come, it adds another level to a lineup that frankly comes up a bit short right now, even with Freeman (one of the best hitters in baseball) and Inciarte (one of the game's most underrated players). 

The Braves have a solid bullpen, plenty of rotation depth and a decent bench. It wouldn't be shocking to see them challenge for the second wild card spot, but true contention will probably come in 2019 for this bunch.

Prediction: 3rd in NL West, no playoffs

Complete opposition research

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here: