Preps Talk

Lane Tech-Taft: A rivalry gone digital

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Taft shoots a free throw during the 3rd quarter of Wednesdays night game against their rival Lane Tech. (Rosie Langello/MEDILL)

Lane Tech-Taft: A rivalry gone digital

Rosie Langello​
Special Contributor to CSNChicago.com

In 2003, Mahmoud Abdelfattah was standing at the foul line on Taft's Senior Night with two minutes left to play when a fight broke out in the stands. When he looked up, the entire student section started running towards him.

"Before I knew it, I didn't even have the ball anymore," Adelfattah said. "There was elbows and punches being thrown and security was trying to break up the hundreds of students."

That was a memorable moment in one of the most heated rivalries in the city. Taft and Lane Tech are the two largest high schools in the Chicago Public School district and stand only six miles apart.

But in recent years, the 25-year old rivalry has drifted from fist fighting, to keyboard punching.

"This has been going on for years and it's pathetic," said Lane Tech senior Almina Sabanovic. "Just recently we played Uplift High School, who is very good at basketball, and we got dunked on by one of their players. Taft printed out that image and they also posted it everywhere. It's very disrespectful."

Over the years, social media has exaggerated the rivalry and a lot of the tension has nothing to do with the players at all, said Brett Nishibayashi, in his 15th year as Taft basketball coach and an alumnus of the school.

Read the full story at Medill Reports Chicago.

CSN Chicago, in partnership with Northwestern University,  features journalism by students in the graduate program at Medill School of Journalism. The students are reporters for Medill News Service. Medill faculty members edit the student work. Click here for more information about Medill.

Preps Basketball Player of the Year Preseason Power Rankings

Preps Basketball Player of the Year Preseason Power Rankings

The 2019-20 high school basketball season has plenty of star power to keep track of this season. One of the strongest groups of Player of the Year contenders the area has seen in years, this year's group features multiple nationally-ranked players and intriguing candidates.

We'll continue to monitor Player of the Year candidates as the season goes on but here's a look at the top five contenders entering this season. 

1. Adam Miller, Morgan Park -- The favorite entering the 2019-20 season has to be Miller after he was arguably the state's best player last season.

Averaging 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game, nobody in the area is capable of going for scoring runs quite like Miller. He can go on insane three-point bursts off the dribble while also creating offense for his Morgan Park teammates. The senior broke the Big Dipper Holiday Tournament scoring record while having games of 48 and 45 points there last season.

The Mustangs also could be the best team in the state this season as Miller will have plenty of help around him. That could mean some huge offensive nights for Miller since defenses shouldn't be about to key in on him with junk defenses like he saw so often last season. 

2. D.J. Steward, Whitney Young -- Steward had perhaps the best summer of any in-state player as he rose up national rankings and committed to Duke. But he's still slightly behind Miller in the Player of the Year preseason race because his numbers haven't been as massive.

Still averaging a stellar 24.3 points and 3.2 assists per game for the Dolphins last season, Steward is ultra efficient as an offensive threat. On a team that will play a national schedule with tons of opportunities against nationally-ranked teams, Steward will also get a ton of chances to make his case during the season.

While this season looks like a Miller vs. Steward race for Player of the Year going into it, both players are also trying to capture state titles after falling short last season. Earning state hardware could wind up being the difference in what should be a tight race.

3. Max Christie, Rolling Meadows -- If anyone is to push Miller and Steward's two-senior battle for Player of the Year it will likely be Christie. The state's top college prospect, the 6-foot-7 junior is a top-ten national recruit in the Class of 2021 who won a gold medal with USA Basketball over the summer.

Putting up 25.2 points, nine rebounds and 3.2 assists per game as a sophomore, Christie has already won MSL East Player of the Year honors and scored over 1,000 points during his two-year varsity career.

Capable of putting up 50 points during a game or throwing up a triple-double, Christie is one of the most electric players the area has seen in years. Watching his junior season should be a ton of fun as he has the potential to win Player of the Year if he can stay healthy and put up huge numbers.

4. Bryce Hopkins, Fenwick -- Also coming off of a big summer is this 6-foot-7 junior forward. Hopkins was already consistently putting up 30-point games by the end of his sophomore season. Now, the junior could emerge as a a sleeper Player of the Year threat after becoming a nationally-ranked Class of 2021 prospect this summer.

Committed recently to Louisville, Hopkins averaged 23 points per game last season. After seeing his complete scoring package grow and his strength continue to develop, Hopkins could be an unstoppable scorer for the Friars this season.

Hopkins will also be counted on to be a leader of a young team as Fenwick plays a tough schedule with tons of showcase opportunities this season. 

5. Ahron Ulis, Marian Catholic -- There are a number of candidates who could go in this final spot but Ulis gets a slight nod over the others. A winning player who has already made a trip to Peoria as a sophomore, Ulis has helped the Spartans to some very successful seasons while running point.

Averaging 18.3 points, 4.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game as a junior, the Iowa commit will consistently have the ball in his hands for a likely top-ten team as Marian Catholic has big expectations this season. If Ulis consistently shows an ability to knock down perimeter jumpers then he could have a huge season to close out a memorable high school career. 

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 14: Lake Park Lancers

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NBC Sports Chicago

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 14: Lake Park Lancers

School: Lake Park

2018-19 record: 23-11 (8-6 DuKane)

Postseason results: Lost to Downers North in Class 4A sectional semifinals.

Players to watch: Luke Sgarbossa is a senior guard coming off of a strong junior year that saw him put up 15.5 points and 2.1 assists per game. Sgarbossa is a big-time scorer. Junior Trevor Montiel emerged as a player to watch this summer with some solid play as he can knock down jumpers. 

Why they're in the power rankings: The Lancers made a huge impression in the postseason with regional wins over DeKalb and Benet before losing a tight game in the next round. Lake Park also looked strong during June. With many pieces returning, the Lancers look like the DuKane favorites and a force to contend with in Class 4A.   

Did you know? Lake Park has captured 14 regional titles in program history but the Lancers only have one sectional title (2015) in program history.