Blackhawks

Okafor leads Whitney Young over Westinghouse

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Okafor leads Whitney Young over Westinghouse

By: Patrick Z. McGavin
SeasonPass.com

Westinghouse entered its showdown against No. 2 Young hyped, excited and hopeful. It only took a few moments for Jahlil Okafor to deflate the heightened expectations.

The star 6-11 Dolphins junior center blocked a shot, grabbed a loose ball and promptly ignited a fastbreak he finished with a rim-wrecking dunk.

It went spectacularly downhill from there for the Warriors.

With Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski and Illinois coach John Groce part of the packed house, Okafor made Westinghouse suffer a very unlucky 13, going a perfect 13-of-13 from the floor in scoring 27 points as the host Dolphins destroyed the previously unbeaten and No. 25 Warriors 98-49 Friday.

Okafor played just 16 minutes and added nine rebounds, six blocks, two assists and a steal for the Dolphins (3-0, 2-0 Red-West). This was our first home game, and we were ready to come out and make a statement, he said.

Westinghouse (7-1, 1-1) scored the games opening basket on a soft jumper by Marlik Williams. Okafor scored eight points during a 14-0 Young explosion. He added three blocks during the charge, indicative of the Dolphins defensive intensity. My coaches have been stressing with me a lot about improving my defense, and Ive been spending a lot of time working on that part of my game, he said.

Westinghouse stayed around for a quarter, trailing just 15-7. Six-nine junior forward Paul White scored six of his 12 points during the quarter as Young blitzed Westinghouse with a 26-9 run for a commanding 41-16 lead at the break. White added seven rebounds and three blocked shots. The interior defense forced Westinghouse players to repeatedly force or rush shots at the rim. Westinghouse managed only six field goals in the first half.

It did not help Westinghouse its biggest inside player, 6-5 center Darrell Gant, suffered a shoulder injury early in the second quarter and did not return. Okafor was unstoppable. In the third quarter, he scored 15 points during a 33-point explosion. He punctuated his dominant performance by hitting a soft elbow jumper and a three-pointer from the top of the key. I got frustrated over the summer about always being double-teamed, and I spent a lot of time working on my shot, he said.

Junior swingman L.J. Peak scored eight of his 12 points in the first half. Sophomore Joseph Toye contributed 12 points off the bench. Senior guard Miles Reynolds added eight points. Ten different Young players scored. Even with two transfers and several players in their first year of varsity competition, Young has demonstrated impressive chemistry. I can truthfully say on this team everybody really likes each other, Okafor said.

Senior forward Dewan White scored 13 points for the Warriors. Junior guard Dequantis Jackson added 11 points.

The Dolphins also showed no mercy. One difference between this years team is that it doesnt take any days off, Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. We saw that Westinghouse beat a good Marshall team the other day, and that certainly caught our attention.

Ive said it already, and I dont want to detract from any of the other great players, but I firmly believe Jahlil is the No. 1 player in the country. The other thing is, I dont think theres anybody that can stick him one-one-one, Slaughter said.

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

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USA TODAY

How Erik Karlsson’s extension with Sharks impacts Blackhawks, Western Conference

The 2019 NHL free agent class — both restricted and unrestricted — is absolutely loaded. But perhaps the biggest fish of them all has already been taken off the board.

Erik Karlsson and the San Jose Sharks have agreed to an eight-year extension worth $11.5 million per year, according to Cap Friendly, becoming the highest-paid defenseman in league history. It’s a significant move for the Sharks, who are looking to keep the band together and take a few more stabs at a Stanley Cup before their window starts to close — Joe Thornton is 39, Joe Pavelski turns 35 in July, Brent Burns is 34, Marc-Edouard Vlasic is 32 and Logan Couture is 30.

How the Sharks make the math work going forward will be fascinating to monitor. Thornton, if he doesn't decide to hang up the skates, is a UFA. Same with Pavelski, who is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career. Both of those players have become part of the Sharks identity, but their futures aren't guaranteed. And then there are guys like Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier, both of whom are RFAs and due big raises.

So how does the Karlsson extension impact the Blackhawks and the rest of the Western Conference?

For starters, the UFA defensemen class just got thinner and that could lead to overpayment across the board from teams looking for impact-type blue-liners because general managers that are looking to make a splash don’t want to come away empty-handed. The Blackhawks were never going to be in on Karlsson, but his contract set the market for this year's class and the fact the signing came before the NHL Draft now gives teams that would've been in on Karlsson an opportunity to refocus ahead of the negotiating period.

In the bigger picture, the Sharks just solidified themselves as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders for at least the next couple seasons. While the Karlsson contract may not look the greatest on the back half, given his durability issues, the Sharks had no choice but to offer him a blank check. When healthy, he is a game-changer and a two-time Norris Trophy winner who's still in his prime, and if the Sharks win a title in the next couple years then it was well worth it. You don't let players like him walk.

The Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive over the next several weeks, particularly in free agency but also continuing to explore the trade market. We already saw that when they acquired defenseman Olli Maatta from the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that could only be the first of many this offseason. The West might be top heavy, but this past season proved that any team can turn it around quickly and the Blackhawks need to do everything in their power to make sure they're one of those teams.

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74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley

74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley

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: Metea Valley 

Head coach: John Parpet Jr.

Assistant coaches: Defensive coordinator - Erik Kramer, Asst. coach - Russ Lorenz, Asst. coach - Albert Zika, Asst. coach - Evan Goodman

How they fared in 2018: 1-8 (0-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Metea Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoffs

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs. Wheaton Warrenville South
Sept. 6 @ Lake Park 
Sept. 13 @ Belleville East
Sept. 20 @ Naperville Central
Sept. 27 vs. De Kalb
Oct. 4 @ Naperville North
Oct. 11 vs. Neuqua Valley
Oct. 18 @ Waubonsie Valley  
Oct. 25 vs. Neuqua Valley

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Mustangs get off to a good start under first year head coach John Parpet Jr.?

Names to watch this season: TE/DE Austin Frederick (Sr.) and TE/LB John Belskis (Sr.) 

Biggest holes to fill: The Mustangs will need to replace seven graduated starters on the defensive side of the football for the 2019 season.

EDGY's Early Take: Metea Valley and first year head coach John Parpet Jr. will look to get the Mustangs program on the winning side of the slate after posting back-to-back 1-8 seasons. They will rely on an experienced core of senior multi-year starters. If the underclassmen group can develop sooner rather than later, this program has the potential for a breakout. The regular season schedule in the DuPage Valley conference is always stacked; they need to get off to a good early start.