Preps Talk

The IHSA Playoffs continue on High School Lites

The IHSA Playoffs continue on High School Lites

High School Lites continues to roll into the boys basketball IHSA playoffs as the Class 1A and 2A semifinals are on the show this week. Sectional titles will also be decided in Class 3A and 4A as the show will have highlights from all over the state.

Class 4A Sectional Finals

Bolingbrook vs. West Aurora (at Romeoville), 7 p.m. -- A rematch from last season's Class 4A playoffs as the top two seeds in the sectional play. Bolingbrook (22-6) is coming off an emotional overtime win over Joliet Central earlier this week as they knocked off West Aurora in last season's sectional semifinals. The Blackhawks (24-4) has won 16 straight games as they're one of the hottest teams left in the playoffs. 

Willowbrook vs. Benet (at Glenbard East), 7 p.m. -- Benet tries to win a sectional title for the second time in three years while Willowbrook goes for its first sectional title in school history. The Redwings (26-4) held off upset-minded Bartlett to extend their winning streak to 17 games. Willowbrook (26-5) has picked up tough wins over Hinsdale South and Naperville North the past two rounds as they are very battle-tested to this point. Sophomore Everett Stubblefield III stepped up in a big way in the last one for the Warriors. 

Lake Zurich vs. Barrington (at Lake Zurich), 7 p.m. -- Lake Zurich hopes to capture its first ever sectional title as they host Barrington. The Bears (25-7) are the No. 1 seed in the sectional as they have a host of weapons. Barrington (24-6) has won 12 of 13 as the Mid-Suburban West champions try to capture their first sectional title since 2002. 

Evanston vs. New Trier (at Maine East), 7 p.m. -- A rivalry matchup gets a proper rubber match to close out a memorable season in the CSL South. These two team split the regular-season series with each team winning on the road as the third game will be at a neutral site. Evanston (24-5) is coming off a solid win over Loyola as junior Lance Jones had a big second half to seal the win. New Trier (25-5) is coming off an emotional 20-point comeback win over Niles North in double overtime on Wednesday night. 

Simeon vs. Marist (at Thornton), 7 p.m. -- Simeon tries to take the next step to Peoria as Marist presents another tough challenge. The Wolverines (28-3) still haven't lost a game to an Illinois opponent this season as senior Talen Horton-Tucker is still the leading Player of the Year candidate. Marist (27-4) earned an impressive win over Homewood-Flossmoor in the last round as they try to avenge a playoff loss to Simeon in last season's sectional semifinals. 

Curie vs. Whitney Young (at Riverside-Brookfield), 7 p.m. -- This could be perhaps the best matchup of the night as two top-five teams clash for a sectional title. The Condors (26-4) made quick work of Proviso East in the sectional semifinals as they try to win a second sectional title in two seasons. Whitney Young (25-7) has a tough win over Lincoln Park as they try to defend the Class 4A title. Senior Javon Freeman came up big in the fourth quarter of the sectional semifinals for the Dolphins.

Class 3A Sectional Finals

Morgan Park vs. Bogan (at St. Laurence), 7 p.m. -- These heated former Red-South rivals meet in the playoffs once again. The Mustangs (21-9) will be the favorite as they are the defending Class 3A champions. Senior guard Ayo Dosunmu has played well since returning from injury. Bogan (21-8) took down St. Rita as they'll be ready to face Morgan Park. These two teams played on Dec. 5 as the Mustangs pulled out a four-point road victory so the rematch could be another close one. 

Farragut vs. North Lawndale (at Little Village), 6 p.m. -- Two Public League conference rivals play in this one. North Lawndale (17-10) has picked up three playoff wins all by 20 points or more so far as they've been blowing out opponents. Farragut (17-10) is the No. 1 seed in the sectional as they just earned a solid win over De La Salle in the sectional semifinals.

Class 2A Semifinals

Pinckneyville vs. Winnebago, 5:30 p.m. -- Two very good teams clash in the first Class 2A semifinal. Pinckneyville (31-3) is making its first state appearance since 2008 as they're led by double-figure scorers Grant Jausel, J.C. Moll and Dawson Yates. Winnebago (29-2) held off Corliss to make it to Peoria as they're coming off a strong season. Senior big man Andrew Morrisey is putting up 19.7 points per game as he's a difference maker up front. 

Orr vs. Bloomington Central Catholic, 7:15 p.m. -- Orr is hoping to claim its second consecutive Class 2A title as they are the heavy favorites in this one. The Spartans (28-4) have plenty of weapons as seniors Dannie Smith, Raekwon Drake and Chase Adams are having tremendous seasons. Bloomington Central Catholic (25-6) is trying to claim its first Class 2A title since 2014. The Saints are led by are led by double-figure scorers like Jack Gilmore, James Morris and Austyn Ellison. 

 Class 1A Semifinals

Newman Central Catholic vs. Annawan, 11 a.m. -- A 30-win team meets a 28-win team in this semifinal clash. Annawan (30-3) knocked off Aurora Christian for a sectional title as they're led by senior Owen Landwehr. Newman Central Catholic (28-4) has won 11 straight games as they make their second state appearance. 

Okawville vs. Goreville, 12:45 p.m. -- A couple of teams who peaked late in the season meet in this one. Okawville (25-8) has won 10 straight games as they try to get past last season's second place finish in Class 1A. Goreville (23-11) is making its first state title appearance in school history as they're on a seven-game winning streak. 



De La Salle's Joe Bonds ready and excited for the next chapter of his football career


De La Salle's Joe Bonds ready and excited for the next chapter of his football career

Chicago De La Salle senior linebacker Joe Bonds (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and soon-to-be NIU Huskie will have zero problems fitting into the "The Hard Way" mantra once he reports to DeKalb this summer.

I had a chance to catch up with Bonds and his teammates at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School.

Bonds, a three-star inside linebacker is one of several Chicagoland headline names who comprised of a very strong NIU recruiting 2018 class.

Bonds, who signed with the Huskies over offers from multiple FBS level schools, looks ahead and discusses his soon to be transition from De La Salle to college football and more.

What to watch for in this weekend's state-title hockey game between Loyola Academy and Stevenson

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What to watch for in this weekend's state-title hockey game between Loyola Academy and Stevenson

A state champion will be crowned Saturday at the United Center, when Loyola Academy Gold plays Stevenson for the Boys Red Division State Championship.

Here are some of the storylines we’re watching ahead of the game.

1. Coaching connection: These two coaches have known each other for more than 20 years. Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre coached against Stevenson head coach Tom Wood when Wood played youth hockey. LaVarre also knows Tom’s dad, Jim, who is the former head coach at Stevenson. Currently the coach Stevenson’s JV 2 team, Jim won the AHAI high school coach of the year in 2007.

2. Fun rewards for players of the game: At Stevenson, the player of the game is awarded a hard hat. At Loyola, it’s a championship belt.

3. International influence: Stevenson’s goalie, Elias Sandholm, is a transfer student from Sweden and has the highest save percentage in school history, .951. He made the all-state team and the Chicago Showcase team.

4. Next man up: In net for Loyola will most likely be Hugh Brady, a senior who stepped up when Thomas Moran went down with a hip injury. Brady has played 47 games and has a .945 save percentage.

5. A drought will be snapped: Stevenson has never won a state championship. Loyola is looking for its first since 1996.

Puck drop is at 3 p.m., with the girls’ state championship game, Glenbrook vs. New Trier, starting at 11:30 a.m.

One more fun note: Team USA gold medalist and Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne will drop the ceremonial puck prior to both games.