Cubs

Warren escapes with victory over Glenbrook North

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Warren escapes with victory over Glenbrook North

By Bryan Bonato
YourSeason.com

Warren outscored visiting Glenbrook North 12-0 in the final 4 minutes, 38 seconds to defeat the Spartans 41-32 on Saturday.The Blue Devils (19-2) trailed 32-29, the result of scoring 10 total points on 4-of-20 shooting during the middle two quarters.But after Glenbrook Norths Andrew McAuliffe hit two free throws to put his team up 32-29, the proverbial lid went on the Spartans basket.They were 0-for-4 from the foul line and 0-for-4 from the field as Warren cranked up the defensive intensity to win going away in Chuck Ramseys final home game after 19 years as the Blue Devils coach. I was thinking about that (last home game) a little bit (after the game), but I also was trying to figure out what we did down the stretch, he said. We finished the game well ... 12-0 against a great team with great coaching. I was happy with that.Down 32-29, JoVaughn Gaines scored on a layup in transition, and Warren took the lead for good on two free throws by Nathan Boothe (11 points, 11 rebounds) with 2:53 left.Darius Paul hit a jumper with a 1:53 left, Paul converted a three-point play with 1:05 left, Jameris Smith hit two free throws with 41 seconds left and Boothe hit a free throw with 22 seconds left.It was our last game here and I didnt want to lose, said Paul (11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists). They had the ball for like 80 percent of the game.At the end, we started looking up to the basket and looking for guys coming off screens.For Glenbrook North (17-6), McAuliffe scored eight points. It was his third game back after suffering a leg injury.We had the free throws and we missed the free throws, Spartans coach Dave Weber said. We did what we wanted to do. We drove and they fouled us. We missed two front ends (of one-and-ones) and then we missed two more free throws. That was a big turning point in the game.Though a non-conference game in the standings, this one mattered to Warrens seniors, according to Smith.Back in fifth grade, we went into double-overtime against them, the senior guard said. We were up by four. Adam Chick (now a starting guard for Glenbrook North) hit a three-pointer, JoVaughn was called for a foul, and they ended up winning the game. Ever since then, we havent liked them.We know all those guys. Its been a good rivalry. Theyre a team we want to beat. Our school has rivalries, but for the Class of 2012, this is our rivalry.Warren will play at Lake Zurich on Tuesday night. Glenbrook North has Maine East on Friday, and then will face Waukegan in the Central Suburban League Championship Game.

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

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USA TODAY

Cubs' World Series expectations are no surprise, but they show how radical transformation from Lovable Losers has been

MESA, Ariz. — Tom Ricketts sure doesn’t sound like the guy who met his wife in the bleachers during the century-long tenure of the Lovable Losers.

“Everyone knows that this is a team that has the capability to win the World Series, and everyone will be disappointed if we don’t live up to that capability.”

Yeah, the Cubs have been among baseball’s best teams for three seasons now. That curse-smashing World Series win in 2016 was the high point of a three-year stretch of winning that’s seen three straight trips to the National League Championship Series and a combined 310 wins between the regular season and postseason.

But it’s still got to come as a strange sound to those who remember the Cubs as the longtime butt of so many baseball jokes. This team has one expectation, to win the World Series. The players have said it for a week leading up to Monday’s first full-squad workout. The front office said it when it introduced big-time free-agent signing Yu Darvish a week ago. And the chairman said it Monday.

“We very much expect to win,” Ricketts said. “We have the ability to win. Our division got a lot tougher, and the playoff opponents that we faced last year are likely to be there waiting for us again.

“I think at this point with this team, obviously that’s our goal. I won’t say a season’s a failure because you don’t win the World Series, but it is our goal.”

The confidence is not lacking. But more importantly, success drives expectations. And if the Cubs are going to be one of the best teams in baseball, they better keep winning, or they’ll fail to meet those expectations, expectations that can sometimes spin a little bit out of control.

During last year’s follow-up campaign to 2016’s championship run, a rocky start to the season that had the Cubs out of first place at the All-Star break was enough to make some fans feel like the sky was falling — as if one year without a World Series win would be unacceptable to a fan base that had just gone 108 without one.

After a grueling NLDS against the Washington Nationals, the Cubs looked well overmatched in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that sparked plenty of outside criticism, as well as plenty of offseason activity to upgrade the club in the midst of baseball’s never-ending arms race.

“I think people forget we’ve won more games over the last three years than any other team. We’ve won more playoff games than any other team the last three years. And we’ve been to the NLCS three years in a row,” Ricketts said. “I think fans understand that this is a team that if we stay healthy and play up to our capability can be in that position, be in the World Series. I don’t blame them. We should have high expectations, we have a great team.”

On paper, there are plenty of reasons for high expectations. Certainly the team’s stated goals don’t seem outlandish or anything but expected. The addition of Darvish to a rotation that already boasted Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana makes the Cubs’ starting staff the best in the NL, maybe the best in the game. There were additions to the bullpen, and the team’s fleet of young star position players went untouched despite fears it might be broken up to acquire pitching.

“I think this is, on paper, the strongest rotation that we’ve ever had,” Ricketts said. “I think that being able to bring in a player of (Darvish’s) caliber reminds everyone that we’re intending to win our division and go all the way.

“We’ve kept a good core of players together for several years, and this year I think our offseason moves have really set us up to be one of the best teams in baseball.

“Just coming out of our team meeting, the vibe feels a lot like two years ago. Everybody’s in a really good place. I think everyone’s really hungry and really wants to get this season off to a great start and make this a memorable year.”

There should be no surprise that the team and its players and its executives and its owners feel the way they do. The Cubs are now expected winners, even if that’s still yet to sink in for the longtime fans and observers of the team they once called the Lovable Losers.

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks deal Michael Kempny to Capitals for conditional third-round pick

The Blackhawks dealt defenseman Michael Kempny to the Washington Capitals for a third-round pick. Kempny had seven points in 31 games this season.

Kempny, 27, recorded 15 points in 81 career games for the Blackhawks. He tallied an assist in Saturday's 7-1 victory over the Capitals.

Kempny signed a one-year extension through the end of this season back in May.