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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Posted 10:30 p.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school sports in Chicagoland. This Fridays edition of High School Lites will feature three epic matchups: Hales-De La Salle, Proviso East-Downers Grove South and the city championship between Brooks and Whitney Young. We will also preview Saturdays City-Suburban Showdown at the UIC Pavilion, which features 1 Simeon taking on 2 Benet. Also, David Kaplan tells us about one suburban girls basketball coach who hasnt let cancer get in the way of her achievements on the court. Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover Friday night. All rankings courtesy of YourSeason.com:

Rich South @ Bloom, 6:30pm

High-flying Depaul recruit Macari Brooks is one of the reasons Rich South (14-7, 5-4) could go deeper in the playoffs than most teams. He contributed 22 points and eight rebounds in the Stars 48-43 win over Thornwood on Tuesday. Bloom (14-8, 7-1) will need to contain Brooks if they want to win Friday night. He did not play in the previous Bloom-Rich South battle on January 14th, which was won by Bloom (43-26). LeJavious Jackson and Donald Moore steer the ship for the Blazing Trojans.

(9) Whitney Young vs. (5) Brooks, 7:00pm (Chicago Public League Championship at Chicago State)

Quite frankly, it wasnt the championship game most people were expecting earlier in the week. But dont blame Whitney Young, who absolutely earned the right to be there by shocking top-ranked Simeon 64-50 in Wednesdays public league semifinal. The 9th ranked Dolphins (17-9) are led by Ohio State-bound Sam Thompson. Brooks (21-3) advanced by beating Curie in the other semifinal on Wednesday, 63-60. Mike Powell and Keith Gray figure to do the heavy lifting for the Eagles.

(16) Hillcrest @ Lemont, 7:00pm

Hillcrest (17-6, 10-0) is putting together another quality season under coach Don Houston. The Hawks, 3A state champs last season, feature guards Julius Brown and LeBarron Hull. They contributed to a nice 75-49 win over T.F. South Tuesday night. Lemont (8-15, 3-8) has had a rough go of it recently but played a solid game Tuesday against a tough Stagg team, leading early before fading late in the fourth quarter. Evan Bridewell will get a lot of looks for the Indians.

Glenbard North @ West Aurora, 7:30pm

If theres one thing going for the visiting Panthers (9-13, 4-7), its momentum. Their 57-34 victory over Hoffman Estates Tuesday could facilitate a late-season push towards the upper half of the DuPage Valley conference. Thats where West Aurora (13-9, 8-3) is right now. This could be another entertaining game between GBN and WA, if their last contest serves as a blueprint. West Aurora escaped with a 55-54 victory back on January 8th. The Blackhawks Juwan Starks was the go-to guy in the previous meeting. He scored 17 points in the win.
Wheaton Academy @ Aurora Christian, 7:30pm
Keep an eye on Wheaton Academy come playoff time. The Warriors (23-1, 9-0) are on cruise control and already racked up two wins earlier this week (Guerin and Montini). They feature 6-9 center Luke Johnson and also have two 6-6 forwards on the roster. Aurora Christian (11-15, 6-3) have quality junior guards in Nick Marema and Dean Danos, a transfer from Oak Lawns Richards High School. Wes Korals game-winning bucket sealed a 55-52 victory by Wheaton Academy the last time the two teams met.

(12) Proviso East @ (11) Downers Grove South, 7:30pm

Talk about a nasty 1-2 punch. Proviso East (19-3, 9-1) gets the 11th ranked Mustangs in enemy territory Friday night and then has to turn around and face 18th ranked Lyons in the City-Suburban Showdown the following night. Sterling Brown, Keith Carter and company will be looking for revenge on DGS after falling to them 60-48 on January 21st. The Mustangs (21-3, 9-1) have quality scorers in Jerron Wilbut, Jamall Millison and 6-8 center Ziggy Riauka.

(6) Hales Franciscan @ (3) De La Salle, 7:30pm

If youre Hales, even if you contain Illinois-bound forward Mike Shaw, you still have a plethora of DLS stars to deal withAlex Foster and Dre Henley just to name a few. The good news for Hales (21-3, 8-1) is that they have one of the best brotherly love combinations aroundin Aaron and Aaric Armstead. They are exceptional talents. Shaw scored 22 points the last time these two teams hooked up --at Hales-- helping De La Salle (18-2, 8-1) to a 68-65 win. Hales Dominique Walls and the De La Salles Jaylon Tate could prove to be the x-factor in this one.

Fremd @ Conant, 7:30pm

The Mid-Suburban West title chase is arguably the best (or at least, the most intriguing) conference battle in the state. Fremd, Conant, Barrington and Schaumburg are all tied at 6-3 with one conference game remaining. Each of them can advance to the conference championship game on Wednesday. Fremd (16-8, 6-3) gets there by beating Conant Friday night, plus losses by Barrington and Schaumburg. Conant (16-7, 6-3) is in with a win over Fremd and a Barrington loss. Note: Schaumburg hosts Palatine Friday, while Barrington Hosts Hoffman Estates.

Prospect @ Buffalo Grove, 7:30pm

Now heres where it gets fun. The Mid-Suburban East could ALSO end up in a four-way tie if Buffalo Grove beats Prospect Friday night, Rolling Meadows beats Wheeling and Hersey beats Elk Grove. Prospect (15-7, 7-2) does own the peace-of-mind advantage though, because they would hold all the tiebreakers when the dust settles. Prospect took a 67-59 decision over Buffalo Grove (16-8. 6-3) in Mount Prospect on January 15th. Terry Redding scored 24 points and added 15 rebounds for the Knights in the win.

(25) Riverside-Brookfield @ Illiana Christian, 7:30pm

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs are the newcomers to the Super 25 rankings this week (18-4, 10-0). They have won six straight and wrapped up their 10th consecutive conference title last weekend with a win over Glenbard South. R-B also beat Farragut earlier in the season. They have consistent shooters from the outside and have a dominant center, 6-9 senior Alex Dziagwa. Illiana Christian (11-11, 4-6)

Check us out this Friday night after the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. High School Lites streams live at CSNChicago.com.

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

Yu Darvish and Cubs pull off dramatic comeback win over Dodgers

There were some added stakes to Saturday night’s Cubs-Dodgers matchup. Darvish made his first start at Dodger Stadium since his infamous Game 7 loss in the 2017 World Series, looking for a great effort in front of a fan base that had their up-and-downs in terms of their relationship with him. He (maybe) took a small jab at the Dodgers before the game had even started, telling the Los Angeles Times that he wasn't worried about being booed because “the Dodgers don't have many fans here in the first three innings, so maybe it will be on the quieter side.”

Well Dodgers faithful certainly got the message and made sure to let Darvish hear it.

However, Darvish got the last laugh on Saturday night. He pitched a stellar seven innings. Over those seven innings, Darvish gave up 1 ER on 2 hits and also notched 10 strikeouts.

Darvish has been hitting his stride as of late, maintaining a 2.96 ERA over his last four starts.

All of that being said, it would be remiss of me not to mention the contributions of Darvish’s teammates. His great outing helped keep the Cubs in the game, but the gutsy performances of Anthony Rizzo and Pedro Strop are what won the contest.

Dodgers All-Star relief pitcher Kenley Jansen had a 10-game scoreless streak coming into Saturday night, but one swing of Rizzo’s bat was all that was needed to restore balance to the everlasting battle of pitcher versus hitter. After Jansen hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to put him on base, Rizzo activated “clutch mode”, mashing a 400-foot bomb out to right field.

Though small, Saturday night’s homer gives Rizzo a three-game hitting streak, perhaps forecasting that things are trending  upwards for the first baseman as the Cubs look to close out the series against the Dodgers with a win on Sunday night. And not to be left out of the fun, Pedro Strop came in to face the Justin Turner, MVP hopeful Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Matt Beaty to nail down the save.

Never afraid of high-pressure moments, Stop came through big time.

Strop got a ground out from Turner, struck out Bellinger and Beaty in his 15-pitch save effort. This was a much-needed win for the Cubs, who have well-documented struggles on the road. As they look to split the four-game set with the Dodgers on Sunday night, the Cubs can be pleased with their fight this week.

Saturday’s win over the Dodgers was the Cubs first win of the season after trailing through six innings, as they were 0-23 in such situations prior to the victory. Amid a season that has been fraught with injury and general roster construction concerns, it was wonderful to see the Cubs pull out a tough win lead by the much-maligned Darvish and the never-quit attitude of his teammates.

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

For on-the-rise White Sox, learning to win also means learning to lose

The White Sox lost Saturday night.

That’s baseball, of course, they’re not all going to be winners. And this rebuilding franchise has seen plenty of losses. But the feelings have been so good of late — whether because of Eloy Jimenez’s 400-foot homers or Lucas Giolito’s Cy Young caliber season to this point or a variety of other positive signs that make the White Sox future so bright — that losing Saturday to the first-place New York Yankees seemed rather sour.

Obviously there will be plenty more losses for this White Sox team before the book closes on the 2019 campaign. Back under .500, these South Siders aren’t expected to reach elite status before all the pieces arrive, and it would be no shock if they’re removed from the playoff race in the American League by the time crunch time rolls around in September.

But don’t tell these White Sox that an 8-4 defeat is a return to reality or a reminder that this team is still a work in progress. Even if, for a lot of players, development is still occurring at the major league level, the “learning experiences” that have been such a large part of the conversation surrounding this team in recent seasons and their daily goal of winning baseball games aren’t mutually exclusive.

“The Yankees are sitting in first place and they lost two games in a row,” catcher James McCann said Saturday night, providing a reminder of how the first two games of this weekend series went. “Just because you're expected to win and expected to be World Series contenders doesn't mean you're not going to lose ballgames. It's how you bounce back.

“And it doesn't mean you're going to win tomorrow, either. It's just, how do you handle a defeat? How do you handle a bad at-bat? How do you handle a bad outing, whatever it may be? But it doesn't mean that we step back and say, ‘Oh, we're back under .500, we're supposed to lose.’

“We expect to win when we show up to the ballpark. You can take learning experiences whether you win or lose. Do I think a game like tonight reminds us we're supposed to be in a rebuilding mode? No. We still expect to win, and we're going to show up tomorrow with that mentality.”

Maybe that’s a description of the much-discussed “learning to win” young teams supposedly need to do on the road to contender status. Maybe that can’t happen until a team figures out how to bounce back from a defeat — until it learns how to lose and how to act in the wake of a loss.

For all McCann’s certainty about the team’s expectations on a daily basis, his explanation was peppered with questions. He said he’s seen the answer to “how do you bounce back?” from this club, and his three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday night was fairly convincing evidence that the White Sox didn’t use up all their fight just getting back to .500.

So while the White Sox know they won’t win every game — that no team will — they need to know how they handle defeat. Losing, it turns out, might end up being more instructive about when this team is ready to win.

“I think we've done a pretty good job (bouncing back),” McCann said. “You look at the road trip in Houston and Minnesota where we took two out of four from a good Houston team and then played really not very good baseball for three days in Minnesota only to come home and have an extremely good homestand.

“It's the big picture. It's not the very next day. It's not, ‘We've got to bounce back and win.’ It's not a must-win situation in the middle of June. But it's how do you handle yourself? How does a game like tonight, do you show up flat tomorrow and let it snowball into a three-, four-game spiral? Or do you fight?

“And that's what this team's been really good at doing is fighting and not giving in.”

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