Preps Talk

High School Lites Preview: Holiday Tournaments

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High School Lites Preview: Holiday Tournaments

As the song goes, "there's no place like home for the holidays." Why not make Comcast SportsNet your home this holiday weekend? Next to playoff basketball, there is no time on the high school basketball calendar that churns up more excitement than holiday tournament week. On Friday's edition of High School Lites, our cameras will venture to championship games from the far northwest suburbs all the way down Interstate 55 to Pontiac. We will bring you the latest highlights, scores and postgame interviews. Which high school basketball teams will carry momentum into 2012? Here is a snapshot of each tournament Comcast SportsNet will be covering this week on High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by The Marines:

THURSDAY GAMES

Dundee-Crown Charger Classic

The 29th annual Charger Classic girls basketball tournament will feature a Bartlett team with a player coming off an exceptional performance. Kristin Conniff scored a career-best 32 points Wednesday night as her Hawks took down Fremd 70-61. Their opponent will be New Trier and Northwestern-bound guard Maggie Lyon. She tallied 22 points with 12 boards and battled an ankle injury briefly in the third quarter of Wednesday's victory over Fenwick.. She should be ready to go for the championship at 8p.m. Thursday. The third place game, Fenwick vs. Fremd, precedes it at 6:30 p.m.

FUN FACT: Bartlett is a familiar team in this tournament come championship time. They lost to Fenwick in the title game 65-47 last season.

FRIDAY GAMES

McDipper Tournament (at Rich South)

Thursday's semifinals should be wildly entertaining. Seton Academy will put their undefeated record to the test as the battle Crete-Monee, while the host Stars take on Bloom. The winners of each game meet up on Friday at 7p.m. Seton has been paced so far by J.R. Toliver, while Crete-Monee got 27 points from LaQuon Treadwell in Monday's first round game against Tinley Park. Lejavius Johnson and Donald Moore have carried Bloom to two early victories, while Rich South advanced by beating Joliet West and Hales.

FUN FACT: RIch Central has won this tournament nine times since its inception back in 1973, including 1985 -- the year that former Bull and current CSN analyst Kendall Gill won tournament MVP.

Pontiac Holiday Tournament

It's the 81st edition of this prestigious central Illinois tournament, which is about two hours southwest of Chicago via I-55. Last year, Warren High School gave eventual state champion Simeon a run in the championship game. Could a rematch be in the works? Warren dealt with Plainfield North accordingly in the opening round, winning 71-40. Nathan Boothe and Darius Paul are two key weapons in the Blue Devil arsenal. They will take on Joliet West in the second round while Simeon, a 70-31 winner over Bloomington Wednesday, faces United Township (East Moline) next. Simeon and Warren could meet in the championship, but not if teams like Peoria Manual and Curie had their way. Thursday's West Aurora-Curie matchup could be worth the price of admission in its own right.

FUN FACT: Peoria Manual holds the record for most points in a game at this tournament with 126 in 1986.

Proviso West Holiday Tournament

Could New Trier's basketball have both of their programs land in holiday tournament championship games? It's a distinct possibility now, as New Trier earned a big feather in their cap Wednesday night, taking down Homewood-Flossmoor 61-58 in the quarterfinals. Dartmouth-bound Connor Boehm had 25 points in the victory. They will take on Morgan Park, who advanced by defeating Glenbrook North 42-28. That semifinal will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday while the other, Proviso East vs. Rockford Auburn, tips off around 8p.m. East took down last year's champs, Benet, in the quarterfinals while Auburn fought off a 12-point deficit to trump Hillcrest, 69-60. The winners of each semifinal will battle for the championship trophy Friday night at 8 p.m., while each game's loser will square off the third place crown 90 minutes prior.

FUN FACT: NBA players Mark Aguirre, Jeff Hornacek, Doc Rivers, Isiah Thomas, Hersey Hawkins, Marcus Liberty, Michael Finley, Kevin Garnett, Juwan Howard and Shannon Brown once played at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament...just to name a few.

Jack Tosh Holiday Classic (at York)

Downers Grove South, St. Ignatius, De La Salle and Naperville North comprise the final four in Elmhurst. Defending champion Downers Grove South advanced over Maine South 69-52 with the help of Jerron Wilbut's 24 points, while their Thursday opponent, St. Ignatius, took down Riverside-Brookfield 62-52. DGS will have to find a way to contain Brian Howard, who scored 29 points in the win over R-B. De La Salle is loaded this year. Naperville North could have their hands full with the likes of Gavin Schilling, Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster. But Naperville North looked impressive in trouncing last year's runner-up, Lyons, last night in a 59-56 victory. Matt Robare led the Huskies with 13. De La Salle and North lock horns at 5:45 p.m. Thursday while DGS and St. Ignatius follow at 7:15 p.m. The two winners duke it out for the championship Friday at 7:15 p.m.

FUN FACT: Jack Tosh was the long-time athletic director for York High School.

Every Friday night at 10:30 p.m., High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. This week's episode will air just after Blackhawks hockey 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, the Elgin Maroons. How did this northwest suburban school knock off national powerhouse La Lumiere? Also, we'll have the latest on the Simeon Wolverines in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than.

High School Lites streams live every Friday right here on CSNChicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Submit them below.

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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NBC

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

As the Bears set their foundation for training camp during OTAs this month, one part of that is beginning to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses on which to build in Bourbonnais. 

Designing an offense to Mitch Trubisky’s strengths was one of the reasons why Ryan Pace hired Matt Nagy, who then hired Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. Easy is the wrong word — but it wouldn’t have made sense for the Bears to not build an offense around their second-picked quarterback. 

But as Nagy and Helfrich are installing that offense during OTAs and, next month, veteran minicamp, they’re also learning what Trubisky’s weaknesses are. And the one Helfrich pointed to, in a way, is a positive. 

“Experience,” Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in your progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”

It'd be a concern if the Bears thought Trubisky lacked the necessary talent to be great, or had a lacking work ethic or bad attitude. Experience isn't something he can control, in a way. 

This isn’t anything new for Trubisky. His lack of experience at North Carolina — he only started 13 games there — was the biggest ding to his draft stock a year ago; while he started a dozen games for the Bears in 2017, the offense was simple and conservative, designed to minimize risk for Trubisky (and, to be fair, a sub-optimal group of weapons around him). 

But even if Trubisky started all 16 games in an innovative, aggressive offense last year, he’d still be experiencing plenty of things for the first time. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made this point back in September that still resonates now with regard to Trubisky:

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks,” Roethlisberger said. “In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

So the challenge for Nagy and Helfrich is to build an offense that accentuates Trubisky’s strengths while managing his lack of experience. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in those efforts last year with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively. 

For Helfrich, though, one of Trubisky’s strengths — his leadership qualities — are already helping mitigate his need for more experience. 

“He’s still in the mode of learning and doing things out here,” Helfrich said. “We might have run one play 10 times against 10 different defenses, you know? And so his response to every one of those 10 things is brand new. And so, you see his reaction to some of those is good. Some of those things you want to improve upon and then keep your chest up and lead because we need that.”