Preps Talk

Why Whitney Young vs. Morgan Park is the perfect opening-night game

Why Whitney Young vs. Morgan Park is the perfect opening-night game

Morgan Park and Whitney Young playing on the opening night of the 2019-20 boys basketball season is a perfect idea.

The two local titans of Chicago high school basketball have agreed to open the season at Chicago State University on Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m.

During an era where it's become increasingly difficult to draw attention to the start of high school basketball, an attention-grabbing No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup is ideal. The combination of two state title contenders and the state's two best players -- Morgan Park's Adam Miller and Whitney Young's D.J. Steward -- is a great way to grab casual fan interest during a typically slow Thanksgiving week of Illinois high school hoops.

Some Thanksgiving tournaments across the state have solid fields and good crowds. But the state's top talent is too spread out. Many teams opt to take the week off altogether for more practice. There isn't a lot of stock put into winning Thanksgiving events and results are often forgotten by the time we reach the more prominent holiday tournaments in late December.

By putting a headline matchup on the first night of the season, the Chicagoland high school basketball scene is mimicking the successful formula of college basketball's Champions Classic. That annual event opens the season with rotating matchups between Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan State. Since all four programs typically hover in the top ten of the national rankings each preseason, it makes for enticing opening-night matchups.

Having two programs like Morgan Park and Whitney Young -- that have combined for nine state titles -- going against each other is a smart early game for the season. It could be the start of something bigger where the Thanksgiving week features more showcase games and events that makes a stagnant week re-think its formula. Getting other notable programs like Simeon and Bloom involved could make for a fun annual tradition to begin the year.

The games test elite competition against each other and will get considered in the seeding process of the postseason. And there's no danger of missing the IHSA state playoffs with any kind of loss since every team in the state makes it anyways.

It'll be fascinating to see how this dream opening day matchup between the top two teams plays out. It's a neutral site during a holiday week where a lot of other teams and tournaments are going on. 

But if the formula of top teams playing each other works, expect this sort of thing to become the norm going forward. It's a great way to draw attention to the sport during one of the busiest sports times of the year.

High School Lites Week 2 basketball roundup


High School Lites Week 2 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.

Windy City Legends: Kendrick Nunn

Team of the Week: Catalyst Maria Soccer

Athlete of the Week: Halle Douglass

Friday's scores:

Stevenson 57, Zion-Benton 44

No. 8 Evanston 50, New Trier 40

Homewood-Flossmoor 63, Lincoln-Way Central 31

No. 14 Thornton 58, Rich Central 34

No. 4 Whitney Young 56, No. 11 Lincoln Park 50

Loyola 34, Notre Dame 31

Homewood-Flossmoor 63, Lincoln-Way Central 31

Francis W. Parker 55, Latin 47

GIRLS: Evanston 59, New Trier 33


Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Mather 61, Foreman 57

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos wins SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition award

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos wins SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition award

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos said he’d never been surprised, until the day the school, his players and even family from Chile let him know he won the SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition Award.

“It means a lot to me because of the recognition we have for the kids,” Burgos said. “As I try to think all in, and think about this, I think my initial inclination is to think about them, about the fact that what we’re doing is seen, that their hard work will pay off and those values that I’m trying to instill in them are reaching them. And I’m very humbled about the whole experience.

"I’ve never been thanked publicly and it’s new, but it’s obviously something positive for the community, which the work I do is centered around.”

The school held a ceremony to honor Burgos, whose nomination bested more than 300 others to win. His team at Catalyst Maria won $2,500. Burgos’ friend and former colleague, Joel Farran, nominated him for his countless works in the community. Just some of the acts Burgos was noted for in the nomination include helping facilitate college scholarships for students, building relationships for students who were struggling to find proper housing, reaching out to students on the middle school levels, inviting parents to come together through events like potluck picnics and organizing a tournament for sixth through eighth-grade students as a way to provide a safe and fun environment for local children.

“He puts people first, and he puts people before himself, and he’s all about elevating others,” Farran said. “Whether it’s on the field or off the field, soccer is just one of the ways he does that. But it is the way he knows best. And it’s about creating opportunities — not only on the field — but when you fail on the field, learning to adjust from that and create solutions, but off the field, creating opportunities for scholar-athletes to continue to excel.”

Burgos’ students agree.

“He’s more than just a coach,” soccer player Alondra Gonzalez said. "He’s like another father-figure to me. When it comes to coaching, he does more than beyond. He created a webpage so everyone could see us. He created a ‘Go Fund Me’ [page] so we could have money for our uniforms, like jackets, because we play in the cold, and he wants us to do a lot more than just play and practice almost every day to be better.”

Another student-athlete, Angel Santillan, said Burgos is an “amazing person.”

“He means everything to me,” Santillan said. "Like the sport, it’s just a passion that he does everything for us. It’s a great experience to be coached by Mr. B. He’s just an amazing coach and he does everything for us.”

Three-time Olympian Kara Winger presented Burgos with the award, as a representative of TrueSport.

“Coach Burgos is clearly taking the time and effort to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Winger said. “I was very blessed to have amazing coaches growing up who taught me how to be not only the best athlete I could be, but to be the best person I could be, and it’s clearly his mission here at Catalyst Maria schools, so TrueSport is so excited to honor him with the Champion Coach Award.”

Burgos, who was visibly moved by the surprise celebration, said he appreciated his work being recognized.

“I know there’s a lot of joy when you give, when you simply give without thinking about what’s going to happen next,” he said. “I do it because it’s the way that I continue to grow; it keeps me alive. I think we humans are here on Earth to take care of each other, to respect each other, to love each other, to cheer each other up. And those are values that I defend, and I have defended always.

"And now that I’m here, and I see that they are recognized, it validates what I knew. It will ultimately — if you are kind to people, if you’re loving, this is what happens. And it’s wonderful to see it for myself.”