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Playoffs wind down on special High School Lites

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Playoffs wind down on special High School Lites

Whether your favorite playoff basketball team is in 1A, 2A, 3A or 4A, we will have you covered this weekend. High School Lites on Comcast SportsNet and CSNChicago.com will bring you scores and highlights from the 1A & 2A state championships, along with 3A and 4A sectional title games across Chicagoland.

Will Seton win their second state title in four years? Can Simeon and Proviso East continue their dream seasons? Here is a snapshot of each game that we will profile in a special Saturday edition of High School Lites. Friday's matchups for the class 1A and 2A semifinals are listed below. Please note that we will show highlights of Saturday's first and third place state championship games on High School Lites, along with all of the sectional games listed. Rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by the Marines.

Mason City-Illini Central (17-12) vs. Carrollton (29-4), 1A State Semifinal, 12:00 p.m.

It's a matchup of two teams few thought would be remotely close to Peoria's Carver Arena this weekend. Carrollton, who is headed to state for the first time since 1984, shocked top seed Brimfield in the super-sectional 58-48. Joey Coonrod, Tyler Watson and Jordan Harr pace the Hawks. IC is here thanks to a 55-40 win over Fisher. The Cougars, who started the season 3-10, are led by a pair of juniors: Jared Entwistle and Jordan Bradshaw.

Woodlawn (27-5) vs. North Shore Country Day (19-4), 1A State Semifinal, 2:00 p.m.

Winnetka's North Shore Country Day has earned their first trip to state in boys basketball. The Raiders, who feature junior guard Austin Curren, dispatched Sterling Newman Catholic 41-35 to advance. Curren can be deadly behind the arc. They'll face Woodlawn, a school that is quite familiar with championship-level basketball. This will be the third trip to Peoria in four years for the Cardinals. Christian Hollencamp will be tough to contain.

Rockford Lutheran (29-3) vs. Normal-University (27-4), 2A State Semifinal, 6:30 p.m.

The Crusaders have earned their first state championship playoff ticket since 1995. Keep an eye on a talented pair of underclassmen, freshman Nate Wieting and sophomore Thomas Kopelman. They combined for 33 points in Tuesday's victory over Fieldcrest. U-High overcame an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter against Teutopolis to advance. The Pioneers feature Keita Bates-Diop, a 6-6 sophomore forward who is drawing considerable interest from Big Ten schools.

No. 18 Seton Academy (28-4) vs. Breese-Central (32-1), 2A State Semifinal, 8:15 p.m.

The Sting won a state championship in 2009 and they certainly have the talent to do it again this year. Russell Robinson, Jr. leads a very balanced and deep attack. The 6-9 senior racked up 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in Tuesday's super-sectional win over Providence-St. Mel. Central has been one of the state's top-ranked teams all season. Their go-to guy is senior Brandon Book. The Cougars or Sting will be very tough to beat in Saturday's championship game.

Wheaton-St. Francis (20-7) vs. No. 13 Marshall (23-7), 3A Glenbard South Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Look out for St. Francis and dont let the seven losses fool you. This team, with coaching veteran Bob Ward at the controls, stunned top-seed Orr in the sectional semis and will be looking for more Friday night behind 6-6 senior Ryan Coyle, who is averaging 16 points a game. He will be integral in the offense. Can they compete with one of the top teams in the city? Marshall features Florida International-bound guard Milton Doyle in their arsenal.

No. 20 North Chicago (22-6) vs. Lakes (20-10), 3A Grayslake Central Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

The top two teams in the North Suburban-Prairie go head-to-head. The Warhawks, who feature Illinois State-bound Aaron Simpson, have yet to be tested in the playoffs. They have won their games (Fenton, Elmwood Park and Grayslake Central) by an average of 26 points. Lakes defeated Ridgewood 75-60 on Wednesday to get to the title game. They played NC twice this season (both losses) but one of them was a 90-86 nail-biter in double overtime. Lakes Direll Clark had 24 points in that game.

No. 10 Bloom (27-3) vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (22-7), 4A Lockport Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

The Bloom offense, behind Lejavius Johnson, Johnny Griffin and Donald Moore, usually gets the rave reviews in this space. But their defensive effort against Thornton in the sectional semis was one for the ages: 1 FG and four points given up in the second half. Homewood-Flossmoor also knows a thing or two about defense. They held Andrew to 22 points in Wednesdays semifinal. On offense, the Vikings Tim Williams can cause fits for the opposition.

No. 7 Elgin (26-3) vs. Rockford-Auburn (29-2), 4A Dundee-Crown Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

If youre a fan of guards, look no further than Fridays contest between Elgin and Auburn. The Maroons heart and soul is Kory Brown. He is one of the top shooting guards in Chicagoland, and he shares the backcourt with a talented point guard in Arie Williams. But as point guards go, Auburns Fred Van Vleet is one of the best in Illinois. The Wichita State-bound star, who also showed off his skills at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament, is very tough to contain.

No. 3 Warren (25-3) vs. Mundelein (26-7), 4A Barrington Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

The No. 3 Blue Devils are looking to send long-time head coach Chuck Ramsey out on a high note. Ramsey, who has 402 career wins and is retiring after the season, has a loaded team this year. Both 6-9 Nathan Boothe and 6-8 Darius Paul can turn a game in a heartbeat. Theyll take on fellow North Suburban-Lake foe Mundelein and their standout guard Robert Knar. Warren has already beaten Mundelein twice this year, 61-45 and 87-79.
No. 2 Proviso East (29-0) vs. Schaumburg (24-5), 4A Schaumburg Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

If Proviso East needs any motivation in this game, they should look no further than the Curie-Marist shocker last Friday. Marist, on their home floor, stunned No. 3 Curie in the regional championship. The No. 2 Pirates could face similar adversity in Schaumburg. The Saxons, fresh off a 64-60 win over Oak Park-River Forest, have home-court advantage. Keith Carter, Sterling Brown and the Pirates face Christian Spandiary, Kyle Bolger and a talented Schaumburg team. Expect a classic March Madness atmosphere.

No. 1 Simeon (29-1) vs. No. 15 Marist (26-5), 4A Argo Sectional Championship, 7:30 p.m.

There was talk in a few circles that Whitney Young a suddenly healthy Whitney Young could give Simeon a serious run in the sectional semifinal. A 12-0 run by Jabari Parker and company squashed the upset talk and the Wolverines went on to win by 10. And then theres Cinderella, known as Marist in Illinois. The RedHawks followed up last Fridays epic comeback vs. Curie with a 67-63 thriller over Bogan. Marist is well balanced, but they have a marquee player in L.J. McIntosh. With apologies to Gus Johnson, will the slipper still fit for Marist after Friday?

As a reminder, this weeks episode will air on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. We head to Lombard to feature our Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the Montini Broncos. This west suburban powerhouse has won three consecutive girls basketball state championships. What has been their secret to success?

Plus, well take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment, and well have in-depth coverage of the Simeon Wolverines, who will be featured in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than. This week's segment takes a look a thrilling win over one of their biggest rivals, Whitney Young, in the sectional semifinal.

IHSA State Championship games can be found on NBC Chicago Nonstop (Digital Channel 5.2, Comcast 341, RCN 50, WOW 130, and AT&T U-Verse 1742).

High School Lites streams live on CSNChicago.com. We invite you to share your story ideas as well by clicking here.

Kevin White admits he 'checked out' at times during Bears tenure

Kevin White admits he 'checked out' at times during Bears tenure

Kevin White's time in the NFL didn't produce many highlights, and the former first-round pick's time in Chicago was mostly spent trying to heal from a variety of different serious injuries. The physical toll left White in a bad place, and he openly admits in an interview with our Bears Insider JJ Stankevitz that it affected his preparation at times:

Because it’s like, if this guy is good, how the hell is he inactive? How? How is that possible? It’s the seventh pick overall, how is that possible? What, does he not know the playbook? Can he not run routes? Is he not getting open? None of that. It was none of that. None of that. Now I would say at times I did check out, where it was like we’re running this, we’re running Pacer, we’re running — I was like, I’m not playing, why — there’s no reason for me to know in and out anymore. When I knew in and out it was like oh, this is the game, this is the plan, now you get to … Kevin, what do we have on here? I don’t know. Y’all figure it out. It kind of got to that, I was so mad and angry I didn’t know, you know what I mean, at times, everyone’s (here) for a purpose and I’m like, I don’t care. 

It's eye-opening to see a former player be this candid about his time in the league, and easy to imagine that terrible injury after terrible injury eventually sapped White of the passion-for-preparation that so many NFL veterans say is needed to succeed. You can listen to the entire 45+ minute conversation on the latest episode of the Under Center Podcast: 

Michael Jordan: 'I won't play' if Isiah Thomas is on Dream Team in new audio

Michael Jordan: 'I won't play' if Isiah Thomas is on Dream Team in new audio

The plot continues to thicken on the revived Michael Jordan-Isiah Thomas feud that has bubbled during and in the wake of “The Last Dance.” Tuesday, audio surfaced of Jordan admitting that he wouldn’t play for the 1992 Dream Team if Thomas was included on the roster.

The clip comes by way of the Dream Team Tapes podcast with renowned sports journalist Jack McCallum, who authored “Dream Team,” a book that chronicled the construction of the 1992 USA Olympics squad that took the world by storm.

 

Though a bit warbled, Jordan’s ultimatum is clear: "Rod Thorn called me. I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.' He assured me. He said, 'You know what? Chuck (Charles Barkley) doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.'"

That audio, according to the podcast, is from an interview McCallum conducted with Jordan for the book in 2011. McCallum reported the fruits of this conversation in “Dream Team,” which came out in 2012:

Rod Thorn, who as general manager of the Bulls in 1984 had drafted Jordan, was assigned the most important task: pulling the prize catch into the boat. Thorn called Jordan directly sometime during the summer, after the Bulls had won their first championship. (In fact, all of the invitations were extended directly to the athletes, not through agents…) So let’s be clear right now about what Jordan said in that first phone call.

‘Rod, I don’t want to play if Isiah Thomas is on the team,’ Jordan said.

I wrote that in Sports Illustrated at the time, not because Jordan confirmed it, which he didn’t, but because at least two reliable sources did. At the time, Jordan more or less denied that he would stand in Isiah’s way.

But he did confirm it to me in the summer of 2011. ‘I told Rod I don’t want to play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ That’s what he said.

Still, controversy framed as rumor continued to surround Thomas’ exclusion from the team, including in “The Last Dance.” In a present-day interview in the documentary, Jordan denied requesting Thomas be left on the roster. 

“It was insinuated that I was asking about him. But I never threw his name in there,” Jordan said. “Based on the environment and camaraderie that happened on that team, it was the best harmony. Would Isiah have made a different feeling on that team? Yes. You want to attribute it to me? Go ahead, be my guest. But it wasn’t me.”

In an interview on ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Thorn, who chaired the USA Basketball Men's National Team Selection Committee in 1992, echoed Jordan’s version of events.

“When I called Jordan, his first inclination was he didn’t know if he wanted to play or not because, as he said, ‘I played on an Olympic team before (in 1988),’” Thorn said. “'It’s for the younger guys as far as I’m concerned.' 

“So we continued the conversation, and at the end of the conversation, he said, ‘You know something, I’ll do it.’ There was never anything in my conversation with him that had to do with Isiah Thomas. Period.”

But now we have audio that directly contradicts those accounts, and corroborates decades-old speculation (and McCallum's reporting) that Jordan played a specific party to Thomas being left off the team. Jordan's invoking Barkley also confirms that there was Dream Team-wide anti-Thomas sentiment. And funny enough, all of this comes from Jordan himself.

Thomas said in “The Last Dance” he didn’t know what went into the decision-making process for the Dream Team, but that he wasn’t selected in spite of, in his estimation, meeting the desired criteria.

If we didn’t know already, we now know for sure what led to his exclusion.

RELATED: David Robinson: Isiah Thomas shouldn’t be surprised about Dream Team snub 

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