Cubs

Larkin keeps rolling, wins 10th straight

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Larkin keeps rolling, wins 10th straight

By Erik Jacobsen
Season Pass

Larkin showed visiting St. Charles East no mercy Thursday night.

The Saints are still trying to find their way after losing star Kendall Stephens for the season to a shoulder injury, but there was no uplifting result in the cards against the Royals, who cruised to their 10th win in a row with a 67-53 Upstate Eight River victory.

No. 20 Larkin (15-2, 5-1) scored the first 10 points of the game and then buried its guest with a barrage of easy baskets in the second half. Senior Quantice Hunter tallied 21 points and three steals to lead the way for the Royals, who remain tied with Geneva atop the UEC River standings.

We just wanted to come out firing and come out playing hard even though they didnt have their star player Kendall, Hunter said. We felt like this was a big game for us with a conference-championship atmosphere.

St. Charles East (10-6, 3-2) was hoping to avenge a defeat against Larkin in late November, but instead it left with back-to-back losses for the first time this season after dropping a nonconference game at Glenbard West on Tuesday.

The Saints missed their first nine shots and committed 11 turnovers in the first half. Following the 10-0 start, St. Charles East never came closer than five the rest of the way and saw its deficit balloon to 65-42 when Larkin scored eight unanswered points in the span of 48 seconds in the fourth quarter.

(Larkin is) 15-2 because they are really good, St. Charles East coach Patrick Woods said. Theyre quick, they take care of the ball, they play hard, they get to the basket incredibly well, they get a lot of high-percentage shots and they play really hard defense.

The Royals made a point of getting the ball inside and as a result made 27-of-56 shots (48.2 percent). Meanwhile, the Saints consistently settled for looks from the perimeter and finished 6-for-27 from three-point range.

Junior point guard Dom Adduci had 17 points to lead St. Charles East. Sophomore guard Cole Gentry added 11 points.

Were in a regrouping stage in our season after losing a potential All-American player, Woods said of his teams new direction after losing Stephens. Were trying to find ourselves right now, and unfortunately were finding ourselves in the toughest week of the season.

Larkin got contributions from up and down its lineup as usual as Quentin Ruff joined Hunter in double figures with 14 points.

Kendale McCullum filled up the stat sheet with nine points, five assists and three steals, and junior forwards Brayden Royse (eight points, seven rebounds) and Drew Jones (eight points, six rebounds) enjoyed productive games inside.

You dont get to 10 in a row unless you get them one at a time, Larkin coach Deryn Carter said. One day at a time theyve to become better, so well continue to do that.

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.