Pro Pets

Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

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Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
10:36 p.m.

By Matt Le Cren
YourSeason.com

Downers South center Ziggy Riauka knew his team could beat Proviso East, but he didnt think it was capable of blowing out the Pirates.

But thats exactly what the host Mustangs did Friday night, sprinting out to a big early lead en route to a 60-48 victory that clinched a share of the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship. It is the first time Downers South (22-3, 10-1) has beaten Proviso East twice in the same season.

It means a lot, Riauka said. Last year we got blown out both times, so this is a good game for us. We hit a lot of good three-point shots that were open and some that were not open but we were still able to hit them. So we got off to a good start and thats what mattered.

The 6-8 Riauka, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, swished a three-pointer that triggered an 18-3 run that gave the Mustangs a 27-9 lead in the second quarter. Downers South, which has won 14 straight, hit six consecutive shots at one point, including treys from three different players on three consecutive possessions.

I started off pretty bad, Riauka said. I couldnt catch the ball or hit a layup, so I just took a three-pointer and it went in, maybe by accident.

It was no accident that South dominated the game, extending its lead to as much as 40-18 in the third quarter. The Mustangs, who beat the Pirates (19-4, 9-2) by an identical score on Jan. 21, take pride in their defense and allowed just 13 points in the first half, including four in the second quarter despite playing the last six minutes without star Jerron Wilbut, who was in foul trouble. Riaukas defense inside was a big factor.

Zig has done a lot of good things for us, Wilbut said. Hes a man down there in the post. He got off to a little rocky start but he got it together and made the right passes and the right plays.

Proviso East made five straight steals and scored the last eight points of the third quarter to pull within 44-32. The Pirates made 5 of 6 three-point tries in the period.

But Riauka helped stop the bleeding by breaking the press and assisting on baskets by Jamaal Millison and Kevin Honn. Then, after a jumper by Proviso Easts Sterling Brown made it 52-41 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Danielius Jurgutis scored on a reverse layup off a no-look pass from Wilbut.

The Pirates cut it to 56-46 with 1:26 remaining, but Jurgutis and Wilbut answered with layups for the Mustangs, who shot 23 of 44 from the floor and 9 of 12 from the line and outrebounded Proviso 32-22. We knew they were going to have a lot of runs and we just played through it, Riauka said. We didnt give up.

Wilbut led a balanced attack with 16 points and six rebounds, while Millison added 12 points, six boards and three assists and Jurgutis tallied 10 points, four assists and four steals. Honn chipped in nine points and seven boards.

Proviso East is a really good basketball team, known for their defense and their relentless scoring, Wilbut said. Just to be in that kind of war with them and beat them is a blessing. Thats what we work hard for every day in the gym.

Brown scored 17 points to lead the Pirates, whose only losses in the past 14 games have been to Downers. Guards Keith Carter and Paris Lee added 10 and eight points, respectively, but the pair combined for just two points in the first half when the Pirates made only 6 of 25 shots.

Pro Pets: David Kaplan's sun-loving mutt, Yoshi

Pro Pets: David Kaplan's sun-loving mutt, Yoshi

“We will always have a dog.”

Our series Pro Pets presented by Nissan continues with our Cubs Pre and Postgame Host David Kaplan and his wife Mindy. They are joined by their dogs, 11-year-old mixed-breed Yoshi and 5-year-old Siberian Husky, Sparky.

Yoshi was adopted at a Wolves game where Kap dropped the puck for charity. A little black pup was up for adoption and his son Brett begged for the dog. After chatting with a volunteer at the event, Kap and his son, Brett, were told that the dog would be put down if he did not adopt him that night. A call was made to Mindy and then Yoshi was in the car going home with Kap and Brett.

“We are just the kind of couple that agrees that we want them sleeping in our bed," Mindy Kaplan said. "We want them snuggling with us.”

Pro Pets is a weekly short-form digital video series that presents compelling stories of high-profile athletes and personalities with the animals they love. To see more from our Pro Pets Series, check out our Pro Pets page: nbcsportchicago.com/pro-pets

Tune in to our Pro Pets Show on September 15 at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago.

What will Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once Addison Russell returns?

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USA Today

What will Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once Addison Russell returns?

What will the Cubs do with Nico Hoerner once - or if - Addison Russell is able to return to the field?

Russell is still in concussion protocol and it's unknown when he will resume baseball activities. There are no clear timelines for head injuries and every person responds differently.

He was still showing symptoms this weekend after taking a 94 mph fastball to the face in Milwaukee last Sunday. Russell meets with team doctors each day, but will be relegated to the bench until he is given medical clearance to return.

Even if Russell is able to play again over these next couple days, how could the Cubs possibly take Hoerner out of the lineup right now?

The rookie collected 3 more hits Saturday, including a 3-run homer in the sixth inning:

That now gives him 11 RBI in his first six MLB games.

"Nico's performance cannot be overlooked," Joe Maddon said Saturday morning. "That [homer] was the first pitch he saw yesterday? I mean, c'mon. And beyond that, the thing I'm really focused on is the defense. He's really done a nice job on defense, which we really need that moment out there. The offense has been a plus.

"I have not given that thought until I know that Addison is ready to rock and roll. And once he does, I know one thing for sure - even if Nico were to start the game, we could upgrade the defense later with Addison in the game, too. So it's one of those things - I don't even permit myself to go there. I don't even know if [Russell is] gonna play or not. I don't know that.

"So in the meantime, Nico: just keep doing what you're doing. He's impressed probably the industry, but more importantly - the clubhouse. The guys have really been impressed by him."

It’s been a nightmare season for Russell. He missed the first month serving out the rest of his suspension for violating MLB's domestic violence policy. He was optioned to Triple-A Iowa initially after the suspension and then came up to the big leagues, where he struggled and was unable to carve out consistent playing time despite the Cubs' need for production at second base.

Russell was then demoted to the minors again in late-July after persistent baserunning/mental mistakes. When Javy Baez went down with injury on the last homestand, Russell stepped in to play shortstop (his natural position), but committed a throwing error in three straight games last weekend in Milwaukee.

Saturday marked only the 95th professional game in Hoerner's career, but he has drawn rave reviews from every corner of the Cubs clubhouse, including seasoned veteran Jon Lester tabbing him as a sparkplug.

Less than a week ago, Hoerner was sitting at home in Oakland with his family, thinking his regular season was done and getting ready to play in the Arizona Fall League soon.

Now, he and his family are at Wrigley Field, soaking it all in:

"[My first game at Wrigley] was amazing. It felt like I had always hoped it would," Hoerner said. "Something you think about for a long time and it definitely lived up to the hype. I had hyped it up to my family a lot just from seeing one game here last year. I said it was unlike anything I had ever seen before and they agreed."

After his debut week, it's natural for fans to wonder if Hoerner should be the Cubs' starting shortstop on a playoff roster even if Russell is able to come back healthy. Baez's exact timeline looms as an x-factor here, too.

Who knows how this will all play out over the next two weeks, but the Cubs have to get to October first and right now, Hoerner is clearly the answer to help them do so.

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