Cubs

Highlighting High School Lites

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Highlighting High School Lites

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

Chicagoland prep basketball is home on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Public League has the spotlight this week, as well hit key rivalry games in Simeon vs. Morgan Park and Whitney Young vs. Farragut. Plus, our cameras will take you to the Southland Conference for a pivotal battle between Crete-Monee and Bloom. Who wins the battle of Naperville? And will Bogans solid run continue? Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover on this Fridays edition of High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by The Marines:

FRIDAY GAMES
Morgan Park (8-4) @ No. 1 Simeon (14-0), 4:00pm

The biggest challenge for Simeon Friday will be avoiding the temptation to look ahead to Sundays epic showdown with Nevadas Findlay Prep, a team like Simeon that is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Jabari Parker and Simeon come into the Battle of Vincennes off a 95-61 thrashing of Brooks on Wednesday. Talented junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. will lead the Morgan Park attack. The Mustangs, paced by Garretts 30 points, were victorious Wednesday against Vocational.
Brooks (6-11) @ No. 8 Bogan (15-1), 5:30pm
Luwane Pipkins, Kendall Wesley, Juwan Henry and Devonte Smith continue to cause fits for every Bogan opponent. The Bengals ran past Corliss Wednesday 99-38. Pipkins finished with 23. If Bogan wins, they will join either Simeon or Morgan Park as the lone undefeateds in the Red South conference. Brooks is in rare companyand not necessarily in a good way. Friday will mark their third straight game against a top 10 opponent (Tuesday- De La Salle, Wednesday- Simeon).

No. 16 Whitney Young (7-5.) @ Farragut (7-5), 5:30pm

Classic Red-West rivalry game on the west side. Is Whitney Youngs sophomore center Jahlil Okafor a future No. 1 draft pick? One writer thinks he has the potential to become one. Okafor is proving his case for multiple awards on the high school level this season, as hes carrying a team that has been limited due to injuries to Tommy Hamilton and Paul White. Rashaun Stimage is the heart and soul of the Farragut attack. The senior center racked up another double-double (19 points, 10 boards) Wednesday in a loss to Marshall.
Crete-Monee (11-3) @ No. 14 Bloom (14-2), 6:30pm

It's a good thing that Crete-Monee will have two days to rest up for Bloom. They were on the winning end of a triple overtime marathon Tuesday night against Thornwood, 74-63. Illinois recruit Michael Orris was clutch, hitting a key 3 in the third overtime. He, along with teammates Marvie Keith and LaQuan Treadwell will be eager to challenge a Bloom team that ran out to a 19-0 lead against Joliet Central Tuesday, winning 55-35. Senior guard Donald Moore leads the Blazing Trojans in a game that could go a long way in deciding the Southland conference.
Rich East (6-10) @ No. 20 Rich South (14-4), 6:30pm

Crete-Monee and Bloom have company in the Southland conference. The Stars got their biggest win of the year last week in a buzzer-beater against Bloom, avenging an earlier loss to the Blazing Trojans in the McDipper Tournament. Center John Ruffin and forward Marquell Small should get a lot of looks. The Rockets are coming off a nice 57-41 win over Kankakee. Ronald Lawton, Raheem Jackson and 6-foot-5 forward Shamond Kemp will create challenges for South.
Prairie Ridge (4-11) @ No. 13 Huntley (13-1), 7:00pm

The Red Raiders are proving to be one of the nice success stories in the northwest suburbs this season. They haven't taken their foot off the gas yet, as Tuesday's 43-33 win over Crystal Lake South would indicate. Six-foot-six phenom Amanze Egekeze, who is attracting attention from several Division I schools, is their go-to guy. Prairie Ridge played well against Dundee-Crown Tuesday night but faded down the stretch, losing 51-40. Luke Keller had 13 points for the Wolves and will look for more on Friday.

Grayslake Central (10-5) @ Hampshire (8-7), 7:00pm

The 8-7 Whips might have the quietest six-game winning streak around. They took four straight at the DeKalb Holiday tournament, and won two more over Fox Valley conference foes to start the new year. Tyler Crater, Brock Ralphs and Tyler Watzlawick are all key contributors for Hampshire. Grayslake Central will also come in with momentum, as they defeated Woodstock 73-53 Tuesday night. Senior center Casey Boyle, who scored 16 for the Rams in the victory, will get a lot of looks Friday night as well.
Leo (9-6) @ Brother Rice (10-5), 7:30pm

Speaking of quiet winning streaks, the Leo Lions have rattled off five straight victories. Their latest effort was a 69-65 overtime thriller on Tuesday against Hales. Brother Rice will need to contain Leos senior center Russell Woods. He tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds in the game against Hales. The Crusaders have a few weapons of their own in Garrett ONeill, Alex Majewski and Sean Fitzpatrick. Each team needs a win to keep pace with Seton in the Catholic South.
Naperville Central (10-4) @ Naperville North (10-4), 7:30pm

This battle of Naperville doesnt receive the headlines that the football game gets, but this matchup should go a long way in deciding the fate of an up-for-grabs DuPage Valley. North is on a roll, off to a 5-0 start in conference, highlighted by Saturdays 53-51 win over then-first place West Aurora. Mike Keane, Derek Westman and Matt Stachio are key contributors for the Huskies. Central, 2-3 in conference and winners of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, is paced by sophomore center Nick Czarnowski.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. This week's episode will air just after the Bulls-Celtics game 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, Huntley. Forget junior or senior leadership: a sophomore is guiding the Red Raiders to the upper echelon of the rankings. Also, we'll have the latest on the top-ranked Simeon Wolverines in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than.

High School Lites streams live every Friday on csnchicago.com.

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

In wake of Astros cheating scandal, Cubs proud they've won the right way

In wake of Astros cheating scandal, Cubs proud they've won the right way

The Cubs and Astros often are compared as franchises that rebuilt from the ground up before winning historic World Series titles. The Cubs snapped their 108-year championship drought in 2016, whereas the Astros won their first ever title a year later.

Both clubs reached baseball’s mountaintop behind young, talented position players — Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo; George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa — and acquired an ace, veteran starting pitcher — Jon Lester; Justin Verlander — to help cook up the right recipe for winning.

Only now, Houston’s success has been tainted by their cheating scandal; the Astros used a camera located in center field at home games during the 2017 season to steal opposing teams’ signs. 

The scandal resulted in the Astros firing general manager Jeff Luhnow and A.J. Hinch — who both received year-long suspensions from MLB beforehand. The Red Sox and manager Alex Cora — Houston’s bench coach in 2017 — have parted ways, as have the Mets and manager Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017. 

While other clubs are in a whirlwind, the Cubs have made one thing 100 percent clear: they play the game the right way.

“We’re really clear about what the rules are. They’re posted for everybody. We talk every spring training about playing with integrity and expecting our players to play fair,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said Friday at Cubs Convention. “And they’ve done a great job of that. I was proud of Anthony Rizzo when he said yesterday that he can say with 100 percent certainty that we play within the rules. And I echo those thoughts, I know that.” 

New layers in the Astros scandal unearth seemingly by the day. Thursday, videos and images surfaced on Twitter possibly showing Houston players wearing wired buzzers under their jerseys. MLB said they found no such evidence in their investigation, however.

Sign-stealing in baseball is as old as the game itself but using technology to do so is problematic, as it goes from looking for a competitive advantage to downright cheating. Houston not only stole signs, but they did so in a way where their hitters knew the exact pitch coming their way.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s definitely surprising too,” Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber said Friday. “For me personally, this is the only organization I’ve been in and the way we go about our business is pretty straightforward, cut through. We go with the rules, we go out there and play baseball.

“To hear this is definitely upsetting. I can’t imagine how some of the teams feel that played them in that playoff series, knowing that this is a real thing and knowing that it was an advantage. For that to happen, it’s a shame.”

For the Cubs, their hubris is so strong they don’t feel the need to steal signs, according to right fielder Jason Heyward.

“Even when [former hitting coach] Chili Davis got to our team, he kind of mentioned to us about how teams in Boston,” Heyward said, “how they got together — and this is no pun intended on what just happened with the manager — but he would just say ‘Hey guys, just pay attention. If you’re on second base, look in and see if we can find a way to get a little bit of an edge late in the game.’

“We were all kind of like to ourselves ‘Well, we don’t really do that here. We never really needed it.’ That’s not being cocky or anything, but we never really needed it.”

“I got nothing against any team or any players, but I think we should play the game right and let your talent the competition decide who’s the best,” shortstop Javier Báez said. 

The Cubs maintain they’ve been playing the game the right way, and they’re extremely proud of that. This current era of Cubs baseball has netted four postseason appearances in five seasons, three trips to the NLCS and that one famous championship.

“Definitely feels good, the ways we did it, especially stepping on top in ’16,” Schwarber said. “I think it’s a better satisfying taste too, now that you can look back on it. I think it’s a little thing that you can say you’re proud of. 

“You hear people back in the steroid era say that they’re proud they didn’t take part in that. I think we can say the same thing too.”

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Blackhawks star Patrick Kane’s legacy will live on forever in London after jersey retirement

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Bolt London

Blackhawks star Patrick Kane’s legacy will live on forever in London after jersey retirement

LONDON, Ont. — Patrick Kane will forever be linked to the London Knights after having his No. 88 jersey retired on Friday in a special pregame ceremony. And it was an emotional moment for the Blackhawks superstar, which doesn’t happen often.

“I didn’t really expect that,” Kane told NBC Sports Chicago. “I didn’t know what to expect, to be honest with you. I spent one year here. It was a great year. It felt like more than one year with all the memories I made here and all the friends and relationships I have today.

"The video was pretty special. Obviously with the things that happened in London but even more-so maybe the things that happened in Chicago and everything coming together. You’re just standing there and that’s your career over 13 years, so I think that started hitting me.”



Kane became the ninth player in Knights history to have his number retired, but the first to receive the honor after playing just one season. It’s because it was a historic one.

As a 17-year-old, Kane registered 62 goals and 83 assists for a league-leading 145 points in 58 games during the 2006-07 campaign and was named the Canadian Hockey League’s Rookie of the Year. He went on to post 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) in 16 playoff games before falling short in the Conference finals.

But before he committed to the Knights, Kane wasn't drawing as much attention as he would've thought. Draft experts projected him to go in the third round and Kane wasn't buying it.

“I couldn't believe it to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I thought I was a lot better than that."

Did he ever prove them wrong.

Kane quickly started to separate himself from the pack in London, and after a strong performance at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship, his name was now being discussed for No. 1 overall. And that's exactly what happened.

“Just coming here, not really worrying about that stuff,” Kane said of the draft hype. “I mean, obviously there's outside noise when it's your draft year but I always said the ice rink is my sanctuary out there. That's what I love to do the most and feel the most comfortable, is being on the ice and playing hockey, making plays and trying to score goals.”

Back in London, Kane got a chance to reflect on how far he's come since his days with the Knights. He's a three-time Stanley Cup champion and a former Hart Trophy winner who's still at the top of his game at age 31.

But touring his old locker room — which he said "looks the exact same" — was a reminder for Kane on how quickly his hockey career has flown by.

"It's crazy to think I'm in my 13th year now," Kane said. "We were just looking for our team picture in the room and I was way too far from the recent teams to where I should've been looking. A little bit of time has passed."

A lot of time has passed, but Kane's impact on the organization and community is everlasting.

Screaming young fans in No. 88 Blackhawks jerseys were in awe that Kane was within reaching distance. He signed autographs, took pictures with as many as he could, shook the hand of longtime faculty members and arena workers that he recognized from his playing days in London and smiled his way around the Budweiser Gardens — which Kane knows as The John Labatt Centre.

Kane even gave the Knights a pep talk in the locker room before the game. Even though he didn't play in London very long, it says something about your legacy when aspiring players are choosing to play for the Knights because they look up to No. 88.

“That’s what it’s all about right there,” Kane said. “I remember being a little kid and looking up to certain hockey players too and wanting to be just like them, so if that’s the way this younger generation looks at me, that’s what it’s all about for me. I enjoy that. That excites me, that makes me happy.”

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