Preps Talk

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

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NBC Sports Chicago

Offense wins IHSA football games...defense wins championships

Every once in a while I come up with a decent idea for our weekly @NBCSPreps live Twitter segment— like this week's topic: “What are the top defenses that are still alive in the IHSA state playoff field?”

However, sometimes these "great" ideas become a bit harder the longer you look at them. This was definitely the case with this week's segment. 

While we only are allowed to list 13 teams for consideration for these segments (due to space restrictions) I came up with at least a handful of other teams who also could make the final cut of what was shown on the big board. 

Look, any team that makes it to the second round of the playoffs is good and they, more than likely, have a good defense. 

But in my mind, it's much more than just points allowed that separates the very good from the great defenses. 

For me, a great defense is a mindset. It's an attitude. A swagger. And they’re all present in that unit's play for each down.

An example? 

Warren Township’s entire defense plays with a mindset and a mentality that they are going to destroy everyone in front of them. And over the past two years in particular, in more cases than not, the Blue Devils defense has succeeded. Sure, Warren has also has its share of marquee names, starting with Iowa State commit DT Willis Singleton Jr., senior LB Juan Delacruz and junior LB Malachi McNeal. That said, the unit as a whole here is simply stronger than the individual parts. 

There are several other top teams left in Class 8A that are right there with the top defenses across the state. Take Loyola. 
The Ramblers also take on that same mindset and the personality mentioned above. Loyola coach John Holocek has a defense that, year in and year our, keep them in every game this season. The consistency over the years has been something to behold.

Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar just seems to reload year in and year out with a brand new group of talented, speedy and highly intelligent kids on the Griffins‘ defense. Of course, having elite talent helps. East features two D-1 defensive ends in Adrain Wilson (Bowling Green) and Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern). The remainder of the Griffins’ defense is more kids who are simply  blue collar types— unheralded names who just show up and grind week in and week out. 

Then there is Glenbard West. Chad Hetlet's defense is nicknamed “The Hitters.” What else do you need to know? The Hitters play with a combination of speed and physicality you just don't see very often. When Hetlet's defense performs to his lofty standards, you can guarantee football in Glen Ellyn well into late November. 

While South Elgin (9-1) is still searching for respect from a rankings standpoint (keep those emails and DM's coming, fans) and while head coach Dragan Teonic teams have been more known for having a wide open offense, the Storm's defense in 2019 has been equally as strong than the offense. If you allow just 45 points in 10 games like the South Elgin defense has, I couldn’t care less about the teams you’ve played. Your defense is exceptional. 

In Class 7A alone you have teams such as Phillips, Mount Carmel, Willowbrook and Lake Zurich who all feature terrific defenses week in and week out. In Class 6A, while downstate Glenwood (10-0) has an offense that seems to get the hype, did you realize that the Titans ‘D has allowed just 105 points in 10 games so far this season? 

We can debate this all day and night long and that's fine. But all I know is that teams with the best defenses will be holding first place trophies on Thanksgiving weekend at NIU. 
 

High School Lites Week 1 basketball roundup

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NBCSCH

High School Lites Week 1 basketball roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great basketball action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CSNPreps for all of the latest IHSA basketball scores and highlights.

Midweek Mixtape: Bogan 73, Vocational 42

Team of the Week: Mount Carmel and Lincoln-Way East football

Athlete of the Week: Marian Catholic's Ahron Ulis

Friday's Scores

Evanston 62, Notre Dame 53

Fenwick 55, Oak Park-River Forest 48

York 51, Lyons 41

 Brother Rice 61, St. Rita 58

Hillcrest 72, Oak Lawn 65

Richards 72, Tinley Park 59

Lake Park 58, Batavia 48

Leo 49, St. Joseph 46

(Girls): Hersey 71,  Prospect 46

Rolling Meadows 70, Elk Grove 37

High School Lites: Basketball season tips with the Chicago Elite Classic

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites: Basketball season tips with the Chicago Elite Classic

High School Lites transitions to basketball season with a loaded first Friday of games for the show. 

The annual Chicago Elite Classic remains a huge early-season event at DePaul’s Wintrust Arena as we’ll have highlights from two marquee matchups there. 

We’ll also cover games from all over the Chicagoland area, including some intriguing South Suburban crossovers. 

High School Lites begins at 11 p.m. this Friday night on NBC Sports Chicago. 

GIRLS: Prospect at Hersey, 6:00 p.m. -- We get a rivalry matchup in the Mid-Suburban East in this one. Hersey (5-2) won four straight games to take home the Bison Classic after a sluggish start. Prospect (4-2) earned a road win at Conant earlier this week as they try to earn two away from home this week. 

No. 20 Hillcrest at Oak Lawn, 6:30 p.m. -- A fascinating South Suburban crossover between two talented teams. The No. 20 Hawks are trying to earn a tough win as they've played a difficult early schedule. The junior class for Hillcrest is special, led by wing Julius Rollins. Oak Lawn (5-0) has a high-scoring senior in guard Sami Osmani as he gets scoring help from senior lead guard Trey Ward. They're a team just outside of the Power Rankings who can get in with a win. With a number of scorers on the floor in this one, it could be an up-and-down contest. 

No. 25 St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:00 p.m. -- The unbeaten Mustangs take the road in this Catholic League crossover. St. Rita (5-0, 1-0) beat St. Ignatius while also winning the Riverside-Brookfield title last week. Christian Henry is off to a strong start for the Mustangs. Brother Rice (3-2, 1-0) is coming off of two straight wins, including a road win at Montini earlier this week. 

Leo at St. Joseph, 7:00 p.m. -- We head to the Catholic League as St. Joe's plays its first home game without legendary head coach Gene Pingatore -- who passed away over the summer. The night will honor the legacy of Pingatore in-part. On the floor, Leo (1-3, 0-1) tries to bounce back from a loss to Loyola earlier this week. The Chargers (1-3) couldn't find their footing at St. Charles East during Thanksgiving week.

Batavia at No. 12 Lake Park, 7:15 p.m. -- The DuKane Conference features a really intriguing early-season showdown in this one. Batavia (3-1) is led by high-scoring senior Jayden Johnson as he's coming off of a strong opening week to the season. The No. 12 Lancers (4-0) took the crown at Wheaton Academy as they're undefeated. Senior Luke Sgarbossa leads a balanced group.

Lyons at York, 7:30 p.m. -- The West Suburban Silver opens play in this one. Lyons (3-0) is quietly off to an unbeaten start by winning their own event, beating Maine South, Fenger and Plainfield North. York (3-1) opened some eyes with a week-one win over previously-ranked Cary-Grove before falling to top-five Stevenson in the finals at Palatine. Senior guard Nate Shockey (North Dakota) is a potential All-Area candidate.

Rolling Meadows at Elk Grove, 7:30 p.m. -- An early look at star junior Max Christie and the Mustangs in a Mid-Suburban East battle. Rolling Meadows (4-0) won the title at Fenton to open the season. Christie, one of the best juniors in the country, dropped 51 points on Elk Grove in an overtime win last season. Elk Grove (0-4) is trying to build after a tough opening week at Palatine that saw them go winless. 

(13) Evanston vs. (8) Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. -- The second Friday matchup at Wintrust Arena has two top-15 teams with a ton of talented juniors battling. The No. 13 Wildkits (4-0) are led by some college prospects in the junior class as wing Jaylin Gibson and guard Blake Peters are a strong combination. The No. 8 Dons (5-0) have been one of the season's major early storylines. Notre Dame beat DePaul Prep for the Battle of the Bridge title and looks like a major contender. The junior group of Anthony Sayles, Troy D'Amico and Louis Lesmond (who played for the Wildkits last season) is strong while senior Jason Bergstrom is another talented option as a scorer.

No. 24 Fenwick vs. OPRF, approx 9:00 p.m. -- Tipping after the Evanston and Notre Dame clash is this inner-town rivalry of Oak Park schools. The annual Friday night closer of the Chicago Elite Classic, this matchup has a lot of talent on the floor once again. The No. 24 Friars (3-1, 1-0) are led by star junior forward and Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins. Sophomore guard Trey Pettigrew is another talented weapon to watch for Fenwick. OPRF (2-2) is trying to figure things out after a sluggish start at Riverside-Brookfield last week. Senior forward Justin Cross was solid this summer and the junior group of Isaiah Barnes and Joshua Smith has a lot of promise. 

VIEWER'S CHOICE GAME OF THE WEEK

Tinley Park at Richards, 7 p.m. -- Our first Viewer's Choice matchup goes to a South Suburban crossover. Tinley Park (3-2) has the state's top sophomore in forward A.J. Casey. The high-major prospect is off to a solid start this season for the Titans. Richards (3-1) only has an overtime loss to Marist against them with a solid start at their own event.