High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011
Posted 11:33 p.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com
Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school sports in Chicagoland. The boys basketball playoffs are underway in class 1A & 2A. Well have highlights of three regional championship games in the area. Well also take you to Chicago Heights where the Southland conference will be decided. Will Crete-Monee win it outright or will Bloom take a share of the title? Plus, we sit down with Tracy Abrams, Nnanna Egwu and Mike Shawthree high school seniors looking to contribute to the Fighting Illini next season. And well bring you the story of the high flying Warriors of Wheaton Academya team that hasnt lost to an in-state opponent yet this year. Here is a snapshot of each game we will cover on Friday night, which include updates on the girls basketball playoff picture:
(17) Lyons @ Proviso West, 6:00pm

The Lions (22-2, 11-0) look to finish the regular season with a perfect record in the West Suburban Silver Friday night in Hillside. Spencer Mahoney, Eric Powers, Nick Zeisloft and company will look to keep the momentum going after a heart-stopping 55-53 win over Proviso East in the City-Suburban Showdown. Proviso West (16-8, 8-3) is currently a distant second in conference and will not factor in the title chase, but theyre having a solid season thanks to a well-balanced attack led by standout guard Nick Frazier.
(12) Crete-Monee @ Bloom, 6:30pm

The only thing standing in the way between Crete-Monee (20-3, 8-1) and a Southland conference title is a Bloom team that has already succumbed to the Warrior attack earlier this year (56-45 on January 21st). So why should 12th ranked Crete-Monee be concerned? Revenge factor aside, the Blazing Trojans (15-10, 7-2) are getting key contributions from forward Lajavius Johnson. He will have to bring his game Friday to help his team get a share of the title. Crete-Monee boasts a rugged lineup featuring DePaul-bound guard Jamee Crockett.
Crystal Lake Central @ Crystal Lake South, 7:00pm

Crystal Lake Central (21-4, 11-1) might not get a lot of the love that their fellow 20-game winners are getting, but the Gators have been thriving on the lack of limelight. They hope to sneak up on teams in the playoffs behind senior Joe Pijanowski and junior Chase Cane. The host Gators (15-10, 4-6) are paced by senior forward Kevin Rogers. Central has not lost a game since January 19th against Grayslake North.

St. Ignatius @ (23) Mt. Carmel, 7:30pm

This game might make you wonder if the Fighting Illini could have used St. Ignatius Nnanna Igwu and the Caravans Tracy Abrams this year. The two Illinois-bound prep stars square off Friday night in a game that could be a nice springboard for the state playoffs that lie ahead. The visiting Wolfpack have won six straight games, including Sundays 52-41 win over Leo. 23rd ranked has been on fire since the Pekin Holiday Tournament, losing only to Halesby four points.

Batavia @ (18) East Aurora, 7:30pm

The 18th ranked Tomcats (19-5, 10-2) hope to have guard Letrell Snoop Viser back for the game against Batavia. He left last during last Friday's game against Lake Park with a sprained ankle. UConn-bound star Ryan Boatright looks for one final regular season tuneup before the playoffs begin. The visiting Bulldogs (13-11, 8-4) have won three straight, including Tuesday's 45-37 win over Streamwood. Senior guard Jesse Coffey hopes to make it back into the lineup for Batavia after an illness kept him sidelined earlier this week.
Elgin @ Streamwood, 7:30pm

Like East Aurora, the Elgin Maroons (20-5, 9-2) can call themselves conference champs after a decade-long wait. Elgin previous Upstate Eight title was in 2000-01, East won it previously in 1998-99. But if the Maroons want to win it outright, they will have to defeat Streamwood (8-17, 3-8) on the road. Elgin's junior guard Kory Brown has been an absolute force this year. He is coming off a season-high 30 points Tuesday against Grayslake Central.

(11) Hales Franciscan vs. Chicago Christian, 7:30pm (2A Regional Championship @ Chicago Christian)

Will the 11th ranked Spartans play in Peoria? The magic eight ball consensus would say "yes." Hales Franciscan (22-4), an elite team featuring brothers Aaron and Aaric Armstead, cruised past Dyett Wednesday night 85-46 in the regional semifinal. However, they cannot afford to look ahead, especially after what happened in the other semifinal Wednesday. Chicago Christian (21-6) raised a few eyebrows with a 53-51 win over Leo. Dan VanGroningen talled 17 points and Jason VanderLaan scored 13 for the victorious Knights.

Latin vs. Parker, 7:30pm (2A Regional Championship @ Holy Trinity)

It would only seem fitting that Latin and Parker would meet for a regional championship, given the nice rivalry between the two schools that has developed over the years. Latin (16-8) advanced thanks to Chad Stevenson, who led all scorers with 26 points in Latin's semifinal win over Marine Wednesday night. The Romans will take on an F.W. Parker team that defeated Holy Trinity 70-33 in the semis. Langdon Neal is one of the leaders for the Colonels (19-7).
St. Benedict vs. Hope Academy, 7:30pm (1A Regional Championship @ St. Benedict)

St. Benedict,the third-seeded team in the regional, won a thrilling semifinal game Thursday night over Universal, 51-50 in overtime. Krys Gago and Habeeb Olowo had 16 points apiece to lead the Bengals (16-12). Chicagos Hope Academy (19-10), the top seed, is a member of the Chicagoland Prep conferenceas is St. Benedict. The Eagles defeated St. Benedict 75-57 on January 7.

THURSDAY: (24) Maine South 54, (23) Niles West 47 OT-- (4A Girls Sectional Championship @ Maine East)

The 24th ranked Hawks scored the first 13 points of the game and then held off a furious Niles West rally to win their first sectional title since the 2007-08 season. Michelle Maher and Jacqui Grant tallied 14 apiece for Maine South. Kaitlyn Mullarkey had two clutch buckets in overtime for the victors, who defeated the Wolves for the third time this season. Niles Wests Jewell Loyd scored 25 points in the losing effort.

THURSDAY: (9) Proviso East 55, (8) Trinity 47 (4A Girls Sectional Championship @ York)

The 8th ranked Blazers might have limited Illinois-bound Ivory Crawford to 12 points, but they had no answer for Ricquia Jones. The 5-4 guard finished with 18 points, five steals and four assists to lead the Pirates, who won their 18th straight game. They will go on to play Maine South in the Loyola supersectional Monday night. Megan Podkowa finished with 14 points for Trinity, who finished their season with a 28-5 record.

Check us out this Friday night at 10:30. We will also bring you up to speed on the 1A and 2A girls basketball state playoff semifinals from Redbird Arena in Normal. High School Lites streams live at CSNChicago.com.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks' bottom six steps up in Colorado

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Jamal Mayers discuss the bottom six carrying the Blackhawks to a come-from-behind win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Later, Mayers weighs in on possible targets with the NHL trade deadline just six weeks away.

Listen to the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast below:

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Pro Football Focus gives Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman historical 2016 grade

Bears GM Ryan Pace struck gold with his signing of Jerrell Freeman last offseason.

Freeman, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract with the Bears last March, was graded as the NFL's No. 1 inside linebacker in 2016, according to Pro Football Focus.

Freeman's 93.8 overall grade was PFF's third-highest defensive grade behind Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald (95.6) and Oakland Raiders standout edge rusher Khalil Mack (93.9). 

Here's what PFF's Mike Renner had to say about Freeman's historic 2016 season:

One of the most impressive pure statistics any player amassed this season came from Bears linebacker Jerrell Freeman. He made 40 tackles in coverage while missing only one tackle attempt. That ratio is insane, and it’s the best we’ve recorded since 2012. That’s about the only exciting stat, though, as the Bears’ front-seven desperately missed a fully-healthy Pernell McPhee for a good portion of the year.

Despite Freeman's outstanding season, he was left off of PFF's All-Pro Team for 2016. Although he was ranked ahead of Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner (91.6) and Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly (92.9), PFF likely omitted Freeman due to him missing four games with a PED suspension.

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In his first season with the Bears, the 30-year-old Freeman led the team with 110 tackles (the next highest total was Harold Jones-Quartey's 78). Freeman also finished with a team-high 7 tackles for a loss. 

Check out a snapshot below of Freeman's PFF metrics from last season:

If there's any doubt about Freeman's play falling off after serving a suspension, he put that theory to rest. Freeman's second-best game grade came in Week 17 against the Minnesota Vikings (3.5). Freeman also had a positive grade (1.4) in his first game coming off the suspension against the Washington Redskins in Week 16.

"People know me," Freeman told the media after returning from suspension. "People know who I am. People know what I'm about. I wouldn't do that on purpose. I made a mistake and that's what it is. It's not like I was going out of my way to do something (illegal). But it happened. It's my fault and I take responsibility for it."