Orr makes waves in Red-West


Orr makes waves in Red-West

To hear Louis Adams tell it, his Orr basketball team has more talent and potential than USA Basketball. That's right, Orr, which has never seriously contended for a Public League championship and never has qualified for the Sweet Sixteen in the state tournament.

But Adams might be right, after all. At least give him the benefit of a doubt. His Spartans are 16-3 going into the Public League playoffs, which includes victories over Red-West rivals Whitney Young and Marshall, highly rated Seton and perennial power Detroit Country Day. They defeated Hales Franciscan 51-36 on Saturday night.

"This is the best team I have ever had, even better than Englewood (which was 27-5 in 2007 and lost to North Lawndale in the regional final)," Adams said. "We have four Division I players. Our goal is to win the city. We know we have to get by Simeon. We know they are good but we are pretty good, too. Our guard play gives us an edge."

Adams acknowledges that Simeon's Jabari Parker and Marshall's Milton Doyle are the two best players in the Public League. But he insists he has four players who are as good or better than any comparable foursome on any other team in the state.

And Adams knows something about guards. Born and raised in Tunica, Mississippi, he was a Division III All-America point guard at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Whitney Young coach Tyrone Slaughter was his roommate. He was invited to the U.S. Olympic trials in 1984.

"The strength of our team is guard play. They play with toughness and intelligence and make good decisions," Adams said. "You can go a long way if you make good decisions, who to pass to, knowing your personnel on the floor, when to slow down and when to fast break, when to pull back and when to speed it up. Good guards make the difference in the state tournament."

Competing in the Red-West, generally recognized as the most competitive basketball conference in the state, Adams believes weekly battles against the likes of Marshall, Crane, Farragut and Whitney Young will prepare his young squad for the Class 3A sectional at Glenbard South, which also includes Crane, Marshall, Farragut, North Lawndale, St. Joseph and Riverside-Brookfield.

What kind of a statement did Orr's recent 68-50 victory over Marshall mean? Durell Williams, a 6-foot-2 junior, came off the bench to lead the Spartans with 18 points and 15 rebounds. Marquise Pryor, a 6-foot-7 junior, contributed 12 points and 15 rebounds while 5-foot-9 junior point guard Jamal McDowell had 8 points and 12 assists. McDowell also limited Marshall star Milton Doyle to 10 points, 14 below his average.

"It tells us we can play with anybody in the city," Adams said. "The guards played well, like I know they can play. You have to have good guard play to succeed in the state tournament."

Adams describes Pryor as the leading rebounder in the state. He is averaging 17 points and 19 rebounds per game. "He has a knack for the ball, a Dennis Rodman type, like (former North Lawndale star) Jonathan Mills but more offense, He is relentless," the coach said.

Pryor is being recruited by Illinois, Baylor, Kansas State, Marquette and Colorado State, according to Adams. With a summer and another high school season remaining before graduation, he likely will receive much more attention from Division I programs.

So will 6-foot-7 sophomore Tyquone Greer, who is averaging 13 points per game. Greer is very versatile. He plays four positions. "He has great potential. He is just beginning to realize how good he can be," Adams said.

Adams describes McDowell (8 ppg, 7 assists) as "the toughest defender in Illinois, a better defender than I was."

And he reminds college recruiters to pay attention to 6-foot-8 sophomore Marlon Johnson, a transfer from Crane who is expected to gain eligibility for the second semester. Adams predicts Johnson will be better than former Orr star Mycheal Henry, now at Illinois. "He can be a top 25 player in the nation," Adams said.

The other starters are 5-foot-8 senior Devontay Jones (12 ppg) and 5-foot-11 senior Deshaun King, who averages 20 points per game and is the team's leading scorer. "King is the best three-point shooter in the state," Adams said. King scored 19 to lead Orr's victory over Hales Franciscan.

There is more talent on the bench with Durell Williams, 5-foot-10 senior Trashaun Jones and 6-foot-5 freshman Darnell Williams, whom Adams projects as a future star.

Adams came to Orr via a round-about route. He opted not to attend the U.S. Olympic trials. "I was a momma's boy. I didn't want to go far away from home. I thought Colorado Springs, Colorado (site of the trials) was too far," he said.

But he moved to Montana to work for the U.S. Forest Service, fighting fires in Yellowstone National Park, for five years. Then his old college roommate, Tyrone Slaughter, persuaded him to come to Chicago, where his family was from.

He worked for Slaughter at a Dominick's grocery store in Melrose Park, then went to work for Marshall Field's (now Macy's) department store. But he wanted to get into the coaching profession. He wanted to work with coach Robert Smith at Simeon. So he applied for a job with the Board of Education.

"I felt I could get my own team," said Adams, who was hired at Englewood in 1996. He spent eight years at Englewood and sent a dozen players to college. His last team almost qualified for the state finals. When Englewood closed, he moved to Orr. He was eager to plant is own roots, build his own program and establish his own identity.

His teams have gotten better each year. His first team was 10-15. Two years ago, he was 18-10. Last year's 22-8 team lost to Riverside-Brookfield in the sectional final. This year?

"We're looking to go as far as we can," Adams said.

High School Lites Week 10 capsules and picks

High School Lites Week 10 capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 10 edition of High School Lites, coming your way Saturday night at 11 p.m. after Cubs Postseason Live. Can Maine South beat West Aurora in this terrific Class 8A opening game? Can Lyons Township upset Naperville North on CSN Friday night in Naperville? Who wins the unofficial Tyson LeBlanc Bowl when Curie takes on Oswego East? And can the T.F. South Rebels extend the coaching career of retiring head coach Tom Padjen with a win over Rock Island?

Class 8A

No. 19 Lyons Township (7-2) at No. 14 Naperville North (8-1) Friday 7 p.m.

Live broadcast on CSN, plus a live stream available on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

EDGY's Take: Lyons Township features one of the top junior quarterbacks in the state in Ben Bryant and the Lions also have plenty of skills. Naperville North and head coach Sean Drendell will unleash its Thunder and Lightning backfield in senior RB Cross Robinson and senior RB Eric Wright and the Huskies also have a very good senior led offensive line. Biggest matchup to watch here? The Naperville North offensive line versus a very good Lyons Township defensive line.

EDGY's Pick: Naperville North 28, Lyons Township 21

No. 23 Leyden (7-2) at No. 10 Barrington (8-1) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Leyden and head coach Tom Cerasani are back in the state playoff field for the first time since 2012. The Eagles will look toward standout athlete Jalen Moore (SIU) and a strong running game to center their attack. Barrington will also run the football. They’re led by a big, strong and physical offensive line and a speedy backfield with senior RB Logan Moews and senior QB Ray Niro. Can Leyden's defense contain the Broncos’ speedy backs? Can Barrington get a handle on Moore?

EDGY's Pick: Barrington 29, Leyden 13

No. 26 Maine South (6-3) at No. 7 West Aurora (9-0) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Maine South is never shy when it comes to having its spread offense scoring points in bunches. Keep an eye out for senior QB Nick Leongas along with junior RB Fotis Kokosioulis. It also features a solid offensive line led by senior four star-ranked OL Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State). Coach Nate Eimer’s West Aurora Blackhawks feature speed on both sides of the ball. You'll be impressed with the Cross twins: senior RB/DB DaQuan Cross and senior RB/DB DaVion Cross. Can the Blackhawks defense slow down Maine South? Can the Maine South defense avoid allowing the Warriors from breaking open big plays? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 36, West Aurora 34

No. 17 Curie (8-1) at No. 16 Oswego East (8-1) Saturday 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc coached at Curie from 2007-11 and guided the Condors to the state playoffs in all five seasons. This season, Curie is led by head coach Jay McDonagh. Keep an eye out for senior RB/LB Anthony Watson. Oswego East can score points in a hurry with senior RB Ivory Kelly-Martin (Iowa). They also boast a solid defense, featuring senior DE Elijah James (Central Michigan). Can Curie win away from the city of Chicago? Can Oswego East handle the physicality from the Condors?

EDGY's Pick: Oswego East 24, Curie 19

No. 18 Lincoln-Way East (7-2) vs. No. 15 Taft (8-1) at Lane Stadium Saturday 11 a.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East will hit the road in the opening round, heading to the North Side to take on Taft, which won the Chicago Public League’s Big Shoulders conference. East is led by senior QB Jake Arthur, senior RB Nigel Muhammed and a roster of well over 100 players. Taft is led by QB Abdullah Ahmad. Also, keep an eye on senior OL/DL Adam Gago for the Eagles. Can Taft go toe to toe with Lincoln-Way East for four quarters?   

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 37, Taft 13

Class 7A

No. 24 Carmel (5-4) at No. 9 St. Charles North (8-1) Saturday 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Carmel and veteran head coach Andy Bitto has had an up-and-down season. But when the Corsairs’ option attack is clicking — led by senior QB Jeremy Strutzel and junior WB/S Zaire Barnes — look out. St. Charles North's only loss came back in Week 4 to rival St. Charles East. Can the North’s defense find the football against Carmel’s option game? Can the Corsairs defense slow down a North Stars offense led by senior QB Zach Mettetal and senior WR Griffin Hammer (Colorado State)? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Charles North 28, Carmel 24

No. 21 McHenry (6-3) at No. 12 Batavia (7-2) Saturday 1:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: McHenry is back in the state playoff field for the first time since 2007. The Warriors and first year head coach Nat Zunkle feature a passing attack led by QB Colton Klein. The defense is led by senior LB Colton Folliard. As for coach Dennis Piroon’s Batavia Bulldogs, it’s all about getting the running game in gear. Junior RB Reggie Phillips will run behind a big and physical offensive line led by senior OT Evan Day (Illinois State). Can McHenry slow down the Batavia running game? Can the Batavia defense rebound from a rough Week 9 performance and raise its game another level against McHenry?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 27, McHenry 21

Class 6A

No. 11 Rock Island (7-2) at No. 6 Thornton Fractional South (7-2) Friday 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: T.F. South veteran head coach Tom Padjen announced earlier this week that this will be his last season leading the Rebels football program, wrapping up his 40-year coaching career. The Rebels will look to extend Padjen’s final season — and they’re led by the coach’s nephew, senior QB Reis Padjen, along with senior WR Bron Hill and a very quick defense. Rock Island is led by former Lake Zurich head coach Bryan Stortz and the Rocks rely on senior QB Alek Jacobs. He has thrown for nearly 4,000 career passing yards and his main target is WR Jacob Ellis (6-foot-7, 215 pounds). So which defense can slow down the other team's passing game? 

EDGY's Pick: TF South 31, Rock Island 28

Class 5A

No. 10 Metamora (6-3) at No. 7 Kankakee (6-3) Saturday 2 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Metamora and Kankakee want to run the football and both can play strong defense. Hall of Fame head coach Pat Ryan has led the visiting Redbirds to 23 state playoff appearances. Their playmakers include RBs Jon Brunton and Ethan Hodel, while sophomore QB Thomas Hall is more than capable in the play-action passing game. Kankakee is back in the state playoff for the first time since 2009. The Kays and head coach Omar Grant will give the football to RB DeAndre Caldwell early and often. Can Metamora win on the road and avoid the turnover monster that's followed them quite a bit this season? Can the Kays win time of possession and also break open a big special teams score or two?

EDGY's Pick: Kankakee 28, Metamora 21

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

PHOTOS: Blackhawks hit the road sporting Cubs attire

The Blackhawks hit the road on Thursday, and they did so in style.

In support of the Cubs participating in the World Series for the first time since 1945, each member of the Blackhawks sported a Cubs jersey and World Series hat as they hopped onto the plane and traveled to New Jersey.

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

It may not have been as whacky as Joe Maddon's themed road trips, but it's still a perfect excuse for breaking the dress code just this once.

Check out the photos below: