High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Posted 10:30 p.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school sports in Chicagoland. This Fridays edition of High School Lites will feature three epic matchups: Hales-De La Salle, Proviso East-Downers Grove South and the city championship between Brooks and Whitney Young. We will also preview Saturdays City-Suburban Showdown at the UIC Pavilion, which features 1 Simeon taking on 2 Benet. Also, David Kaplan tells us about one suburban girls basketball coach who hasnt let cancer get in the way of her achievements on the court. Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover Friday night. All rankings courtesy of YourSeason.com:

Rich South @ Bloom, 6:30pm

High-flying Depaul recruit Macari Brooks is one of the reasons Rich South (14-7, 5-4) could go deeper in the playoffs than most teams. He contributed 22 points and eight rebounds in the Stars 48-43 win over Thornwood on Tuesday. Bloom (14-8, 7-1) will need to contain Brooks if they want to win Friday night. He did not play in the previous Bloom-Rich South battle on January 14th, which was won by Bloom (43-26). LeJavious Jackson and Donald Moore steer the ship for the Blazing Trojans.

(9) Whitney Young vs. (5) Brooks, 7:00pm (Chicago Public League Championship at Chicago State)

Quite frankly, it wasnt the championship game most people were expecting earlier in the week. But dont blame Whitney Young, who absolutely earned the right to be there by shocking top-ranked Simeon 64-50 in Wednesdays public league semifinal. The 9th ranked Dolphins (17-9) are led by Ohio State-bound Sam Thompson. Brooks (21-3) advanced by beating Curie in the other semifinal on Wednesday, 63-60. Mike Powell and Keith Gray figure to do the heavy lifting for the Eagles.

(16) Hillcrest @ Lemont, 7:00pm

Hillcrest (17-6, 10-0) is putting together another quality season under coach Don Houston. The Hawks, 3A state champs last season, feature guards Julius Brown and LeBarron Hull. They contributed to a nice 75-49 win over T.F. South Tuesday night. Lemont (8-15, 3-8) has had a rough go of it recently but played a solid game Tuesday against a tough Stagg team, leading early before fading late in the fourth quarter. Evan Bridewell will get a lot of looks for the Indians.

Glenbard North @ West Aurora, 7:30pm

If theres one thing going for the visiting Panthers (9-13, 4-7), its momentum. Their 57-34 victory over Hoffman Estates Tuesday could facilitate a late-season push towards the upper half of the DuPage Valley conference. Thats where West Aurora (13-9, 8-3) is right now. This could be another entertaining game between GBN and WA, if their last contest serves as a blueprint. West Aurora escaped with a 55-54 victory back on January 8th. The Blackhawks Juwan Starks was the go-to guy in the previous meeting. He scored 17 points in the win.
Wheaton Academy @ Aurora Christian, 7:30pm
Keep an eye on Wheaton Academy come playoff time. The Warriors (23-1, 9-0) are on cruise control and already racked up two wins earlier this week (Guerin and Montini). They feature 6-9 center Luke Johnson and also have two 6-6 forwards on the roster. Aurora Christian (11-15, 6-3) have quality junior guards in Nick Marema and Dean Danos, a transfer from Oak Lawns Richards High School. Wes Korals game-winning bucket sealed a 55-52 victory by Wheaton Academy the last time the two teams met.

(12) Proviso East @ (11) Downers Grove South, 7:30pm

Talk about a nasty 1-2 punch. Proviso East (19-3, 9-1) gets the 11th ranked Mustangs in enemy territory Friday night and then has to turn around and face 18th ranked Lyons in the City-Suburban Showdown the following night. Sterling Brown, Keith Carter and company will be looking for revenge on DGS after falling to them 60-48 on January 21st. The Mustangs (21-3, 9-1) have quality scorers in Jerron Wilbut, Jamall Millison and 6-8 center Ziggy Riauka.

(6) Hales Franciscan @ (3) De La Salle, 7:30pm

If youre Hales, even if you contain Illinois-bound forward Mike Shaw, you still have a plethora of DLS stars to deal withAlex Foster and Dre Henley just to name a few. The good news for Hales (21-3, 8-1) is that they have one of the best brotherly love combinations aroundin Aaron and Aaric Armstead. They are exceptional talents. Shaw scored 22 points the last time these two teams hooked up --at Hales-- helping De La Salle (18-2, 8-1) to a 68-65 win. Hales Dominique Walls and the De La Salles Jaylon Tate could prove to be the x-factor in this one.

Fremd @ Conant, 7:30pm

The Mid-Suburban West title chase is arguably the best (or at least, the most intriguing) conference battle in the state. Fremd, Conant, Barrington and Schaumburg are all tied at 6-3 with one conference game remaining. Each of them can advance to the conference championship game on Wednesday. Fremd (16-8, 6-3) gets there by beating Conant Friday night, plus losses by Barrington and Schaumburg. Conant (16-7, 6-3) is in with a win over Fremd and a Barrington loss. Note: Schaumburg hosts Palatine Friday, while Barrington Hosts Hoffman Estates.

Prospect @ Buffalo Grove, 7:30pm

Now heres where it gets fun. The Mid-Suburban East could ALSO end up in a four-way tie if Buffalo Grove beats Prospect Friday night, Rolling Meadows beats Wheeling and Hersey beats Elk Grove. Prospect (15-7, 7-2) does own the peace-of-mind advantage though, because they would hold all the tiebreakers when the dust settles. Prospect took a 67-59 decision over Buffalo Grove (16-8. 6-3) in Mount Prospect on January 15th. Terry Redding scored 24 points and added 15 rebounds for the Knights in the win.

(25) Riverside-Brookfield @ Illiana Christian, 7:30pm

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs are the newcomers to the Super 25 rankings this week (18-4, 10-0). They have won six straight and wrapped up their 10th consecutive conference title last weekend with a win over Glenbard South. R-B also beat Farragut earlier in the season. They have consistent shooters from the outside and have a dominant center, 6-9 senior Alex Dziagwa. Illiana Christian (11-11, 4-6)

Check us out this Friday night after the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. High School Lites streams live at CSNChicago.com.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Corey Crawford rebounds

The Blackhawks’ starts have been all over the map this season but their finishes have usually been strong. That was the case again on Sunday night as the Blackhawks took a lead, lost a lead and regained a lead for good in their 4-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

This one featured a little bit of everything. So let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over Vancouver.

1. Jonathan Toews breaks through. If the Blackhawks captain’s confidence was a little shaken with his lack of scoring this season, it should’ve gotten a boost with his Sunday outing. Toews’ goal and three assists were as big for him as they were the Blackhawks, who needed every bit of it late against the Canucks. In his last 12 games Toews has three goals and eight assists. He’s getting there. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “it seems like he was around the puck way more and when he does that, usually good things happen.”

2. Great start. This hasn’t been written very often but it was more than evident on Sunday night. If this wasn’t the Blackhawks’ best opening period of the season it was pretty close, as they broke out to a 2-0 lead against the Canucks. The Blackhawks, outside of a 3 ½-minute sequence without a shot on goal, were tenacious and ready to shoot, taking an 18-9 shots-on-goal edge in that first.

3. Corey Crawford rebounds. Quenneville considered Scott Darling for this game, an understandable thought with Darling coming off a 30-stop shutout. But he wanted Crawford to get back to where he was prior to his appendectomy, and Crawford took a step in that direction on Sunday night. In stopping 25 of 27 shots Crawford got his 18th victory of the season and 200th of his career. Quenneville said Crawford “looked like he was in control.”

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4. Michal Kempny’s tough stretch. When Kempny has been good this season he’s been very good. When he’s been bad... The defenseman was in the penalty box when the Canucks scored their first goal and he was beaten by Bo Horvat on the Canucks’ second goal. Kempny didn’t play the final 14 minutes of the game. Quenneville, who liked what Kempny brought on the team’s road trip, said Kempny just has to work through some things. “Coverage with awareness and knowing sometimes it’s man coverage, sometimes it’s playing the puck and clearing the loose stuff,” Quenneville said. “Defenseman is a tough position as you’re growing and learning it, but the more you play the better you play and I still think he’s making progress.”

5. Brian Campbell gets to keep No. 500 this time. Campbell thought he had his 500th point against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night but it was taken away. Well he got it back on Sunday night, setting up Richard Panik’s 11th goal of the season in the first period.

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews' four-point night paces Blackhawks past Canucks

Jonathan Toews has been doing a lot of things right this season. The offensive production, however, has been hit and miss as the Blackhawks' captain looked for the same consistency on the score sheet he had in the rest of his game.

On Sunday, he hit pay dirt.

Toews recorded a four-point night, including the game-winning goal, and Corey Crawford won his 200th career game as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks remain in second place in the Western Conference. They and the Minnesota Wild each have 65 points, but the Wild still have three games in hand.

It was a milestone night for a few Blackhawks. Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal late to record his 400th point in a Blackhawks uniform. Toews' three assists put him 13th all-time among Blackhawks in that category with 331. Brian Campbell recorded his 500th career point.

Richard Panik had a goal and an assist.

The Blackhawks had arguably their best start of the season in this one, outscoring the Canucks 2-0 (Panik and Patrick Kane) and outshooting them 18-9. But in less than a minute in the third period, the Blackhawks lost the lead, thanks to Troy Stecher's power-play goal and Bo Horvat's rebound goal.

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But Toews, who played his part in the Blackhawks' start, was there for the finish. Panik's late third-period shot caromed off the backboard and went right to Toews, who scored for the 3-2 lead with 1:18 remaining in regulation.

"I guess the goals have scored lately are just getting those bounces and being in the right spot at the right time. Nice to get that one on my stick," Toews said. "I just keep telling Hartsy (Ryan Hartman) and Panner to keep shooting — they both have unbelievable shots — and we're going to generate stuff whether it hits the end wall, goes in or hits the guy's pads. We'll find something around the net. It's nice to get that bounce late in the game."

The Blackhawks had some bad luck — and Michal Kempny had a rough shift or two — during the Canucks' third-period comeback. It was a bit of frustration at the time, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks kept their cool.

"I still thought we didn't get away from our game at that point, which could have happened," he said. "Finding a way to get it to overtime or scoring a late goal tonight is something our guys have been good at. Just (the) play at the net, Johnny in the right spot with the finish. I still thought we kept our composure at that point."

Crawford, meanwhile, stopped 25 of 27 shots and looked better than he has in some recent outings.

"We gave him some looks where he could feel comfortable again, and he had some great plays in close from post to post on their power plays, especially in the second," Toews said. "He was finding them all night. Nice to see Crow play the way he did tonight and obviously he was a big part, as usual, in the win."

The Blackhawks had a bit of a gaffe early in the third period, but they were able to weather it. Toews has been steady in most facets of his game this season but was looking to build on his production. Sunday’s game was a step in the right direction.