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High School Lites preview: Playoffs - Week 2

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High School Lites preview: Playoffs - Week 2

128 down. 128 still alive. Who will advance to Illinois' version of the final 64?

Comcast SportsNet will have a camera at every high school football game in the Chicagoland area Friday night in week two of the IHSA playoffs. Many sports fans didn't figure Downers Grove North would make it to the second round. Can they pull off another stunner in Harvey? It's a border war in the southwest suburbs as Bolingbrook takes on their Naperville rivals, Neuqua Valley. And we'll profile another revenge game on the north shore. Lake Forest took down Lakes by a touchdown in the regular season. Who wins the Lake battle this time around?

Here is a snapshot of each game we will profile on Fridays edition of High School Lites. The rankings reflect the class seeds in the IHSA playoffs:

8A:

No. 1 Neuqua Valley (10-0) at No. 9 Bolingbrook (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

Storylines abound in this 8A thriller: Border war between Naperville and Bolingbrook. Will Bolingbrook QB Aaron Baileys be 100 after knee injury in week six? Can Joey Rhattigan and the Neuqua offense be stopped? Does Neuqua know that a potential rematch with Waubonsie could be in the cards next week? Whatever angle you pick, this game should be one of the best second round matchups. Bolingbrook took down Sandburg 39-7 last week; Neuqua beat Naperville North 56-20.

No. 3 Mount Carmel (9-1) vs. No. 6 Simeon (8-1), 7:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

Mount Carmel and Simeon have become quite familiar with one another over the years. They met twice last year; Mount Carmel has won four of the last five in the series. If Simeon is to defeat the Caravan, they are going to have to shut down option attack led by quarterback Don Butkus and running backs Matt Domer and Draco Smith. Simeon defeated Bloom last week 13-10. Quarterback Elcee Burke and Sharoid Roach, two of the heroes in that win, look to lead the Wolverines.

7A:

No. 5 Wheaton North (9-1) at No. 13 Prospect (7-3), 7:00 p.m.

Its been a tale of two seasons for Prospect. Their defense, trampled early and often in the first six weeks, has turned a 180 over the last four games. The Knights stepped up to fend off a good Glenbrook North rushing attack last week. Their workload will increase second round. Wheaton North has a dynamic offense with many capable athletes. Patrick Sharp, Clayton Thorson, John Peltz and Matt Biegalski are four names you will hear frequently when the Falcons have the ball.

No. 8 Downers Grove North (6-4) at No. 5 Thornton (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

Is it too early to call Downers Grove North a Cinderella story? They notched one of the biggest upsets in the state last week, throttling top-seed Batavia. Can they win against Thornton? Sophomore quarterback David Edwards and running back Brandon Salter 224 yards last weekwill face a Thornton team that is very familiar with playoff football. Veteran head coach Bill Mosel has playmakers in twin brothers Jamal & Jason Towns and quarterback JoWahn Brown.

No. 3 Oswego (9-1) at No. 2 Benet (9-1), 7:30 p.m.

The key matchup here is Oswegos potent offense going up against a Benet defense that has limited offensive-minded opponents like Marist and Joliet Catholic in check. The Redwings forced two key second half turnovers in last weeks 24-10 win over Andrew and sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi made plays. Oswego, averaging 41 points per game, advanced by beating Plainfield North. Wide receiver Jack Kwiatkowski and running back Mickeel Stewart need to be contained.

6A:

No. 14 Notre Dame (6-4) vs. No. 11 Steinmetz (7-2), 6:00 p.m. at Hanson Stadium

The 7-2 Silver Streaks turned the tables on Foreman, a team that beat them in the regular season, in a 26-12 opening round victory. The defense forced five turnovers and quarterback Michael Harris scored three rushing touchdowns. As for Notre Dame, theyre looking to ride the momentum of an incredible performance by running back Chris James. He tallied 323 yards and a jaw-dropping seven touchdowns in a 46-27 victory over Grayslake North. It was the Dons first playoff victory since 1997.

No. 5 Grant (8-2) at No. 4 Crystal Lake Central (8-2), 7:00 p.m.

After winning only eight games from 1998-2005, the Crystal Lake Central program has bounced back. This is their fifth playoff appearance in the last seven seasons. Theyre coming off a 49-7 win over Hyde Park where Matt MacAlpine, back from a leg injury, rushed for three touchdowns. Grant has lost a few offensive weapons due to injuries, but sophomore Jeremy Bredwood filled in nicely last week. The wingback scored four touchdowns as the Bulldogs defeated Lake View 59-0.

No. 1 Oak Forest (9-1) at No. 5 Shepard (7-3), 7:00 p.m.

These two schools are only separated by a seven minute drive, so expect a jubilant crowd on both sides. The 9-1 Bengals might be peaking at the right time. They've given up a touchdown or less in three of their last four games. And they love to run the ball. Ben Santiago and Tyler Usterbowski both ran for over 100 yards in last week's 29-0 win over Hinsdale South. Shepard passes the ball a lot more than Oak Forest. The Astros have a fine QB-WR duo in Jimmy McClinton and Londell Lee.

No. 2 Lakes (9-1) at No. 10 Lake Forest (7-3), 7:30 p.m.

If "20-13" isn't plastered on every locker at Lakes High School, something is wrong. That was the final score on September 7th, when Lake Forest beat the Eagles in Lake Villa. But since that defeat, Lakes has scored the following point totals: 60, 35, 69, 42, 56, 62 and 35. Running back Direll Clark is their go-to on offense. But the Scouts have an opportunistic defense (four interceptions last week against Rolling Meadows) and a talented quarterback in Andrew Clifford.

4A:

No. 1 AustinVOISE Academy (9-0) at No. 5 Brooks (7-2), 7:00 p.m. at Lane Stadium

Brooks might be the best team you haven't heard from yet. Their only defeats: a one point loss to 5A juggernaut Kaneland and a 33-28 setback to an 8-2 Rock Island squad. They have a fine 1-2 punch on offense with quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw and running back Josh Smith. But the undefeated Tigers don't need to hear any of that. They have the defense (five shutouts on the year) and are scoring over 42 points per game. Willie McCullum, a two-way player, has stepped up nicely.

Our High School Lites crew did a little road-tripping this week. We made our way to Ottawa to bring you a story of how this Illinois town has come together to support two playoff teams. Our Muscle Milk Team of the Week is Bolingbrook. The Raiders were thought to have major challenges once star quarterback Aaron Bailey went down with an injury. But sophomore backup quarterback Quincy Woods is putting quite a stamp on the season. Plus, well also catch you up with Joliet Catholic in this weeks Drive segment, presented by Northern Illinois University. And well take a drive down Memory Lane in Flashback and bring you up-to-the-minute scores from across Chicagoland.

High School Lites airs at 10:30pm this Friday night and streams live at CSNChicago.com. The show will re-air on Saturday morning at 7:30 and 8:30.

Follow CSNChicago.com preps writer Joe Collins on Twitter: @JoeCSN.

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

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best basketball player on Thursday night

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USA TODAY

Forget needs: The Bulls need to draft the best basketball player on Thursday night

The Bulls want to upgrade at point guard. In fact, they need to upgrade at point guard. John Paxson made that known in February when discussing the Bulls trading for Otto Porter. He made that known in April at the team’s end-of-the-year press conference. He made it known again in May after the Bulls slipped to 7 on Lottery night.

This hasn’t been just motivation through the media to light a fire under Kris Dunn or posturing from the front office to make a point guard-needy team jump the Bulls on draft night. Paxson has been clear for months that, one year after saying he felt “really good” about Dunn and Cam Payne on the depth chart, the point guard position needs upgrading.

He's not wrong. And it also shouldn’t matter on Thursday night when the Bulls go on the clock.

Filling perceived positional needs should be the least of the their concerns heading into the draft. The Bulls need an upgrade at point guard. That much is true. Here’s what else is true: The Bulls won 22 games last season, had the second worst home net rating in the last 20 years and at one point in late March, played six former G-League players a total of 133 minutes in an NBA regular season game. The Bulls, by the way, lost that game by 23 points. It was only their eighth worst home loss, looking decent compared to the losses of 25, 25, 28, 29, 31, 39 and 56 they suffered at different points in the season.

Do you know what the Bulls need? Good basketball players.

Wayne Selden averaged 22.9 minutes. Ryan Arcidiacono averaged 24.2 minutes. Walt Lemon Jr. finished his season with the Windy City Bulls on March 27 and led the Chicago Bulls in scoring three days later. They’re all great stories of persistence. They’re also all part of a recipe that resulted in 22 wins and a lost season.

There’s no doubt injuries played a part. Only the Cavaliers lost more games to injury than the Bulls last season, and the post-Otto Porter trade Bulls were trending in the right direction with a promising stretch in February. But this team has so far to go until they’re in contention even for a playoff spot in a weak East that “team needs” can’t be part of the discussion.

To Paxson’s and Gar Forman’s credit, it hasn’t come into play the last two drafts. The Bulls selected Lauri Markkanen in 2017 despite having Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis entrenched at power forward. In 2018, they opted for Wendell Carter Jr. despite having Robin Lopez under contract and Cris Felicio committed for three more seasons. Neither of those picks were needs at the time. Had the Bulls drafted for need, they’d probably have Dennis Smith Jr. and Mikal Bridges right now.

Now isn’t the time to change course.

The Bulls need to stay true to their draft board and, in a class where picks 4 through 10 are pretty much on an even playing field, draft for upside. Remember, the Bulls are still playing for 2021. It’s not what fans want to hear about 49 combined wins the last two seasons, but it’s the reality of where they are. Drafting a player they believe will help them most down the line – and not necessarily in October 2019 – has to be not only a priority, but the only line of thinking.

Perhaps Paxson and Forman have North Carolina guard Coby White high on their draft board. Maybe Darius Garland, who they’ve been enamored with for quite some time, is worth moving up and sacrificing future assets. But if not, there’s no use in a short-term fix to sacrifice long-term gains.

It’s OK if the Bulls’ point guard situation isn’t resolved when the sun rises Friday morning.

This is also the deepest free agency class at point guard in some time. If the Bulls want to upgrade there for a short-term fix in free agency, go for it. Just don’t sacrifice the 7th pick to round out your starting lineup. It may seem counter-productive to draft a reserve in the top half of the Lottery, but it’s actually a good problem for the Bulls to have considering the strength of their 2 through 5 positions.

Maybe it really is Texas center Jaxson Hayes. Perhaps Cam Reddish's woeful freshman season at Duke hasn't scared off the Bulls. Maybe Sekou Doumbouya looks like a player who can improve the Bulls' defense and maybe contribute on the other end.

Outside of Zion Williamson, no player in this year’s Lottery is going to move the needle in Year 1. You’re drafting for 5-6 years down the line, not 5-6 months down the line.

Find the most talented prospect on your board at No. 7, consider how he’ll fit in to the structure, dynamic and schemes of the Bulls and figure out where his upside lies based on those factors. It’s all that should matter on draft night.

White Sox officially promote Zack Collins to major league team as Welington Castillo goes on IL

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USA TODAY

White Sox officially promote Zack Collins to major league team as Welington Castillo goes on IL

Zack Collins is a big leaguer.

Multiple reports indicated that Collins would be promoted ahead of Tuesday's Crosstown game against the Cubs, and that's exactly what the White Sox did, announcing the move Tuesday morning.

Additionally, the team placed Welington Castillo on the injured list with a strained left oblique. He left Sunday afternoon's game against the New York Yankees with what the team announced as lower back tightness.

While Rick Renteria has yet to speak on the matter, the catching situation figures to be not too dissimilar from what it's been, with James McCann getting the bulk of the playing time while appearing as the designated hitter on days when he doesn't catch. Collins will likely take over Castillo's catching duties and also see time as the DH.

Collins' arrival marks another step forward in Rick Hahn's rebuilding project. The 2016 first-round pick is ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the White Sox loaded farm system. Praised for his offensive abilities, Collins finished the 2018 season with a .382 on-base percentage and launched 15 homers at Double-A Birmingham. This season, he posted a .250/.374/.482 slash line with nine homers, nine doubles, 39 RBIs and 36 walks in 50 games at Triple-A Charlotte.

Adding another future piece to the mix at the major league level only makes the opening of the contention window in 2020 look more realistic, as Collins will join Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Tim Anderson and, eventually, Dylan Cease with a sizable amount of major league experience heading into that campaign.

Collins' promotion doesn't figure to be a temporary one that comes to an end once Castillo is healthy. Hahn and Renteria have spoken on multiple occasions about how they don't want to call these top prospects up and have to send them back down. It's happened before, of course, most recently with Carson Fulmer, the White Sox top pick in the draft before they selected Collins. But it's a road they'd rather not go down and an explanation they've given for keeping highly rated prospects such as Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the minors as long as they did.

There are questions about Collins' game, mostly on the defensive side of things. But the White Sox feel he's ready for his first taste of the major leagues, adding another piece of the rebuilding puzzle to the big league squad.

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