Cubs

IHSA Championship Hoops Preview: 3A & 4A

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IHSA Championship Hoops Preview: 3A & 4A

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Posted 11:13 p.m.
By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school athletics in Chicagoland. Its basketball championship weekend in Peoria and well have highlights of the 4A and 3A title and third place games.

Well also pay a visit to Hales Franciscan High School, where the Spartans celebrate their 2A title. Plus Chuck Garfien profiles a World War II veteran who will get the chance to go on a very special trip thanks to some free throw shooters at Elgins Westminster Christian High School.

And well tell you about an athlete at Lincoln-Way West who balances three sports and contributes at the highest level in the classroom. All this plus a special montage of the best highlights of the basketball season.

Here is a capsule of each team that will compete for a title in Peoria this weekend:

3A:

Brooks (28-3): Can the Chicago Public League champs also tame the field at state? The Eagles have already turned some heads in the playoffs, as they outlasted Morgan Park for the sectional title and then used a 20-0 surge to outlast Lindblom in the supersectional. Their offense revolves around their Wisconsin-bound senior guard, George Marshall. He led all scorers with 18 points in Tuesday nights victory. Mike Powell and brothers Keith and Kevin Gray are also key contributors.

Rock Island (28-3): The Rocks will take on the aforementioned Eagles in the semifinals Friday afternoon at 12:15. And if youre looking for star power on Rock Islands roster, look no further than future Stanford Cardinal Chasson Randle. Chicagoans got a look at Randle in the City-Suburban Showdown last month. Randle had a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) in Tuesdays supersectional victory over Aurora Central Catholic. The Rocks have a fine basketball tradition, as they have advanced to state three times since 1988.
Centralia (29-4): Legendary coach Arthur Trout guided the Centralia High School to three state titles in the first half of the 20th century. Current head coach Lee Bennett and his talented team hope to leave a similar legacy. The Orphans claimed the Springfield Supersectional title on Tuesday with a 48-44 victory over Morton. Guard Bryan Betts, R.J. Kwiatkowski and Tyler Obermeier make up part of a well-balanced attack. This will be Centralias first trip to state since 2002, when they took home a third place trophy.

North Chicago (17-13): Raise your hand if you had the Warhawks advancing to state this season. Anyone? Bueller? The Cinderellas of the north shore will enter the grand ballroom at 2pm on Friday, as they dance with Centralia. NC had a losing record when the playoffs began. And they arent just surprising their opponentstheyre dismantling them. North Chicago used a 26-2 run to overwhelm a tough Crane team Tuesday night in Hoffman Estates. Maurice Gordon, Jaylen Linson and Marzhon Bryant are among the ones to contain on the Warhawk roster.

4A:
Glenbard East (27-3): Its all coming together for Illinois State recruit Johnny Hill and the Glenbard East Rams. Hill was unstoppable in the NIU Supersectional game against Rockfords Auburn high school, scoring 32 points in a 63-51 victory. Point guard Zach Miller also got a good feel of the arena hell be playing in next season. The future Huskie tallied nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in the win. Head coach Scott Miller has completely turned the program around. His teams finished 5-20 in 02 and 03 and have been solid ever since.

Simeon (28-2): A state title in 2006. Another one in 2007. And an unexpected state championship last season. Whats left on the to-do list Wolverines head coach Robert Smith? Preserving the dynasty by winning a fourth championship in six years. Simeon endured two back-to-back losses last month but has been nothing short of dominant ever since. The team is unselfish and features one of the best talents in the nationsophomore Jabari Parker. Their quest for another state title begins Friday night at 6:30 against Glenbard East.

Normal Community (27-6): Dave Witzigs first year as head coach of the Ironmen didnt do much to appease the masses in central Illinois: 4-22. But the program has grown significantly since that 1998-99 season, and Witzig has the likes of Paul Musselman, Anthony Beane and Chase Robbins to thank for it. The three all chipped in nicely in Tuesdays 59-48 win over DePaul-bound Jamee Crockett and Crete-Monee. Normal will take on Warren in the late game on Friday night (8:15pm).

Warren (30-3): The key to the Blue Devil attack revolves around their talented front line, which features Darius Paul (Brandon Pauls brother), Jeremiah Jackson and Nathan Boothe. Coach Chuck Ramseys squad took down star Abdel Nader and Niles North in the Waukegan Supersectional Tuesday. Warren opened some eyes in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament as they pushed Simeon to the brink of defeat, coming up short 58-50. They cannot afford to look ahead to a possible rematch in Saturdays final, though.

Each game of the 3A and 4A championships can be found on WMAQ-DT 5.2. Check us out this Saturday night at 11:00. High School Lites streams live at csnchicago.com.

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

Assistant coaches: Gabe Ostrander, Mario Fiorito, Chad Nardi, Tony Sylvester, Eric Lewis and Dwayne French

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (4-1 Metro Suburban Red). Elmwood Park made the Class 4A state playoff field and beat Back of the Yards. In the second round, they lost to Evergreen Park.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 vs St. Joseph

Sept. 6 vs Lisle

Sept. 13 @ Ridgewood

Sept. 20 vs St. Edward

Sept. 27 vs Westmont

Oct. 4 @ Christ the King

Oct. 11 vs Guerin Prep

Oct. 18 @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 25 @ Bishop McNamara

Biggest storyline: Last year, the Tigers had their best season on the gridiron since 1985’s 12-1 state semifinal team. What will this team do for an encore? Can they go deeper into the state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: Senior quarterback Mike Stranski and wide receiver Keon Grimes

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to find some new faces to bolster the defensive line and at the linebacker positions.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a banner year in 2018, as Elmwood Park advanced to the their playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in school history. Coach Dylan Mack’s program has some momentum will have a very good chance to make it three state playoff appearances in a row later this fall.