High School Lites preview

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High School Lites preview

Chicagoland prep basketball is home on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Conference play resumes and a few teams will be looking to capitalize off the momentum from holiday tournaments. Will St. Ignatius continue their surprising run? Will a school record be broken at North Chicago on Friday? Who will be the next hero in the legendary New Trier-Evanston rivalry? Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover on this Fridays edition of High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by The Marines:
Thursday's games

No. 8 Elgin (12-1) @ Batavia (4-7), 7:15 pm

The Maroons continue to build off last years 22-7 squad. The last time they made a supersectional was in 2008 and they have the talent to get there again. Senior Kory Brown is their leader and hes helped by junior guard Arie Williams. But Elgin first needs to take care of business in the Upstate Eight conference, and it starts with a Batavia team that reached the semifinals of the Elgin Holiday Tournament. Senior center Cole Gardner will get a lot of work in the paint for the Bulldogs.

Marmion (8-6) @ Aurora Christian (10-3), 7:30 pm

This Suburban Christian Blue showdown features an Aurora Christian team that some thought would have a down year in 11-12. That's not the case, as the Eagles have had an impressive campaign. They won three of four at the Plano Christmas Classic. C.J. Schutt is one of the go-to guys for A-C. Marmion has benefitted of late from the play of junior guard Alex Theisen. The teams will face each other again at Marmion Feb. 10.

Friday's games

No. 6 Andrew (9-0) @ Lincoln-Way North (5-11), 6:30 pm

The Thunderbolts might be in uncharted waters but they havent been fazed by the recent success. They rolled through the Kankakee tournament, with junior forward Jubril Adekoya picking up MVP honors. Andrew is in a brutal stretch: six of the next seven games are on the road. And pardon the pun, but the Lincoln-Way North Phoenix are on the rise. Daryle Morgan led his team to three wins in four games at Lincoln-Way Easts Medieval Classic over the holidays.

No. 7 Plainfield East (11-0) @ Plainfield North (3-11), 7:00 pm

The Bengals are turning into quite a story. The school has only been in existence for 3 years and they already have a top 10 program with a nice holiday trophy (Pekin Holiday Tournament) in the hallway case. Austin Robinson, Jawan Straughter and Brian Bennett will now look to guide East through Southwestern Prairie conference play. Plainfield North competed in the Pontiac tournament over holiday break. They battled in their last game, a 69-63 loss to Waukegan.

Joliet West (8-4) @ Joliet Central (6-6), 7:00 pm

The battle for Joliet is also a jostle for position in the competitive Southwest Suburban Blue conference. West picked up a win at the Pontiac Holiday Tournament and has also played well against the likes of Homewood-Flossmoor and West Aurora. Senior center Marlon Johnson figures is tough to contain on both sides of the floor. Central went 1-3 in the McDipper Tournament at Rich South. Junior guard Jalen Heath leads the Steelmen.

Evanston (11-3) @ No. 15 New Trier (12-2), 7:30 pm

One of the best rivalries in the state features a sneaky-tough Evanston team that quietly took the consolation crown at a very competitive McDipper Tournament. Leonard Garron, Josh Irving and Jordan Perrin lead the Wildkits. New Trier was equally impressive at the Proviso West tournament, taking home second place honors. David Bragiel, Austin Angel, Connor Boehm and Jordan Thomas figure to get a lot of looks on the Trevians offense. The girls teams will square off at 6 pm. New Trier features Northwestern-bound guard Maggie Lyon. Evanston has picked it up of late, winning three of their last five.

No. 9 St. Ignatius (11-1) @ St. Rita (6-5), 7:30 pm

It seems like every game in the Catholic North has Game of the Night potential and this clash is no different. St. Ignatius, CSNs Muscle Milk Team of the Week, is on a serious roll. They tamed the competition at the Jack Tosh Holiday tournament, earning victories over Downers Grove South and De La Salle in the process. St. Ritas record is deceiving. They have only lost one game to an Illinois foe. The guards (Ritas Tony Hicks and Ignatius Brian Howard) drive both offenses.

Wauconda (7-7) @ North Chicago (9-2), 7:30 pm

It could be a memorable night for Illinois State recruit Aaron Simpson and the North Chicago Warhawks. The talented guard needs 12 points to become the schools all-time leading scorer. Simpson, who contributes mightily to the Warhawks 78.8 points per game average, scored 133 points over four games at the State Farm Holiday Classic. He was named to the all-tournament team. The Bulldogs, winners of three of their last four, need to step up on defense to have a chance here. Matt Mead and Kyle Ryan are their threats on offense.

Mundelein (14-3) @ Libertyville (10-3), 7:30 pm

The Mustangs gaudy win total ranks currently ranks near the top of all Illinois teams. A marquee win on the road in the rugged North Suburban Lake could help them bust into the top 20. Their last win was a 110-79 triumph over Buhach Colony (Calif.). Robert Knar and Sean OBrien are two of the featured stars. Libertyville figures to be a good test. They took third place at the Wheeling Hardwood Classic. Ellis Matthews and Griffin Pils are leaders on the Wildcats roster.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. This week's episode will air just after Blackhawks hockey and SportsNet Central. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment. This week, be sure to check out CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, St. Ignatius. After a strong campaign last season, the Wolfpack were considered also-rans this season. How did this Chicago school get back on top? Also, we'll have the latest on the Simeon Wolverines in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than.

High School Lites streams live every Friday on csnchicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: csnchicagowebsite@comcastsportsnet.com

Adam Eaton on clubhouse protests: 'You've got to stick up for yourself'

Adam Eaton on clubhouse protests: 'You've got to stick up for yourself'

Whether you agree with them or not, the White Sox have consistently shown a willingness to fight for their cause all season.

Twice last week, and in March with Adam LaRoche, White Sox players took a stand against management decisions they don’t agree with.

The more recent incident of course occurred Saturday and ultimately led to Chris Sale’s five-game suspension for insubordination and destruction of team property.

White Sox players also made headlines when they declined to tip the Seattle Mariners clubhouse attendant as a form of protest to a new team policy instituted that redirects 60 percent of those tips back to a club account to cover expenses such as postgame meals, etc. Traditionally, all money tipped by players has gone directly to clubhouse personnel without team involvement. Eaton said players merely are standing up for their beliefs.

“You’ve got to stick up for yourself,” Eaton said. “As clich√© as it might sound, it’s just power to the players. The players have a voice in this game and if you don’t feel like something is par for the course or up to standard, we definitely vocalize it. It’s not that we’re spoiled or anything like that.”

“It’s just the way things have been ran and how things have been, with the instance of Adam LaRoche, the kid coming into the clubhouse -- I thought we got a lot of support with all kinds of guys putting pictures up online of them and their kid being in the clubhouse. With the Seattle thing, the other 29 teams are doing it. Sale’s a little bit off the radar -- I kind of like it.

“We feel strongly about something we’ll do something about it.”

White Sox players met with Seattle assistant general manager Jeff Kingston during the trip to talk about the policy in a story first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Eaton said Monday that White Sox players have an envelope full of checks ready to hand over to Mariners visiting clubhouse manager Jeff Bopp when the situation is resolved. It’s not that they want to hurt Bopp, but they want the policy changed similar to how the San Francisco Giants quickly amended theirs last year. Eaton said the Cleveland Indians also tried to get around Seattle’s policy. He expects it will be an issue that is discussed in upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.

“More or less we want to give the money to the people that are doing the work in the clubhouse,” Eaton said. “We don’t want the front office taking money from the guy that’s down there working until 1 o’clock in the morning cleaning our uniform and cleaning our spikes. We treat those guys with the utmost respect. They work their butts off. When we made a decision as a team not to pay, it was because we want that clubby to get the money he deserves. The front office, they’re not down there during the day, they’re not doing any work, and they’re receiving the funds. We don’t see that as a productive practice.”

Notre Dame unit preview: Tarean Folston, Josh Adams a strong 1-2 punch at RB

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USA Today Sports Images

Notre Dame unit preview: Tarean Folston, Josh Adams a strong 1-2 punch at RB

With the start of Notre Dame preseason camp approaching fast, we’re looking at what to expect from each unit that’ll take the field in primetime Sept. 4 against Texas at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Today: The running backs. 

Depth Chart

1A. Tarean Folston (Redshirt junior)
1B. Josh Adams (Sophomore)
2. Dexter Williams (Sophomore)
3A. Deon McIntosh (Freshman)
3B. Tony Jones (Freshman)

In Adams and Folston, Notre Dame should have a dynamic 1-2 punch out of its backfield this fall. Adams broke Autry Denson’s freshman rushing record with 838 yards last year. The lightly-recruited Pennsylvania native showed excellent speed, vision and running back instincts — the latter of which were even more apparent in comparison to those of greenhorn back C.J. Prosise, who nonetheless rushed for over 1,000 yards last year. 

Folston suffered a torn ACL on his third carry of the season against Texas, which robbed him on a chance to build on his 889-yard sophomore season. He developed into a well-rounded running back in 2014, answering Brian Kelly’s challenge to improve his pass protection skills and catching 18 passes out of the backfield that year. 

While Adams and Folston are clearly atop the depth chart, Williams impressed coaches during the spring not so much for his burst and agility, but for his ability to grind out an extra yard or two after contact in the trenches. Kelly said Williams could be utilized as a short-yardage back this fall, though the former four-star recruit should have a few opportunities to showcase his explosive playmaking skills, too. 

Biggest question: Can Tarean Folston improve off 2013 and 2014?

Folston was the first offensive player to go down with a serious injury last year (defensive lineman Jarron Jones and defensive back Shaun Crawford both were hurt during preseason camp) and only had three carries for 19 yards. It wasn’t in the least bit the kind of season Folston hoped for.

The Cocoa, Fla. native thought a big 2015 season could vault him into NFL Draft consideration following his junior season. After putting together solid freshman and sophomore campaigns, Folston’s hope was to cement himself as Notre Dame’s feature running back and be a big part of a successful offense. 

Those efforts were delayed a year when Folston blew up his knee trying to bounce outside against Texas. The fact that Folston even participated in spring practice — even though he wore a non-contact jersey during March and April — was a positive sign, and Notre Dame expects him to be 100 percent for the start of preseason camp. If Folston can finally build off his first two seasons, it’ll provide a nice boost to the Irish offense, even if it’s a year behind schedule. 

Youthful impact

Jones and McIntosh were both rated as three-star recruits by Rivals coming from Bradenton and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., respectively. Ideally, Notre Dame won’t have to force either into action with three players ahead of them on the depth chart, but given the attrition that happened at this position last year, Jones and McIntosh aren’t guaranteed to redshirt this fall. 

The most important thing either player can do to get on the field quickly is pick up Notre Dame’s pass protection responsibilities. That’s a big part of why Adams, not the more highly touted Williams, played as a freshman in 2015. 

They said it

“Just going into practice with that appreciation — not saying I never had it, but you know, day in and day out knowing that I’m getting the opportunity to do what I love and not sitting at a table rehabbing just watching or on the sideline, freezing, just watching.” — Tarean Folston on returning to practice during the spring

Suspended White Sox ace Chris Sale to start Thursday against Cubs

Suspended White Sox ace Chris Sale to start Thursday against Cubs

Chris Sale will return to the White Sox mound Thursday against the Cubs for the first time since being suspended five games for cutting up his team’s 1976 throwback uniforms on Saturday. 

The 27-year-old left-hander, who was issued a five-game suspension by the White Sox on Sunday for “violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment,” will remain away from the team for the first three Crosstown games this week. Manager Robin Ventura said Sale would probably throw a side session sometime this week, but due to his suspension, any work will have to come on his own. 

Ventura said he won’t necessarily have a discussion with Sale when the five-time All-Star returns to the club in the cramped confines of Wrigley Field’s visiting clubhouse later this week. 

“He’s going to pitch. That’s what he does,” Ventura said. “I don’t think there has to be a big meeting or anything. He’s pitching Thursday.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Because of Sale’s bizarre pregame incident, the White Sox on Saturday had to use six relievers — Matt Albers, Dan Jennings, Tommy Kahnle, Zach Duke, Nate Jones and David Robertson — to get through eight innings before the game was suspended due to a line of heavy thunderstorms that rolled through the South Side. Robertson on Sunday pitched the ninth inning of the suspended game and the ninth of the regularly-scheduled contest against Detroit (he gave up three solo home runs to blow the save in the second game) and is likely unavailable for Monday night’s Crosstown opener against the Cubs. 

White Sox players said they moved on quickly after Sale destroyed those uniforms he didn’t want to wear, pointing to the team’s two wins on Sunday for supporting evidence. And Ventura doesn’t think a team-wide meeting is necessary to address any issues when Sale does come back on Thursday. 

“Guys have seen a lot of stuff and it’s about playing, I think they’re about playing and we’ll go with that until something needs to be addressed,” Ventura said. “As far as playing, guys are just moving on and playing.

“…  I’m sure they’ll have conversations about it. But I don’t think we need to have a whole team meeting and address it that way.”