Young captures Class 4A title

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Young captures Class 4A title

By Phil Brozynski
YourSeason.com
NORMAL, Ill. Linnae Harper isnt the most outspoken player on the Young basketball team. The 5-foot-7 junior lets her actions do the talking.Harper spoke volumes Saturday.Harper had 14 points and 14 rebounds, Janee Thompson had 12 points and five assists and sophomore Taylor Brame added 10 points to lead Young to a 63-51 victory over Edwardsville in the IHSA Class 4A state championship game at Redbird Arena.Young became the first big school team to complete an unbeaten season since Peoria Richwoods went 38-0 in 2005, and Harper was a big part of it. She outrebounded Edwardsville by herself 11-10 in the first half as the Dolphins raced to a 34-12 lead.I think size-wise shes probably the best rebounder in the country, Young coach Corry Irvin said. She has a knack for the ball that you cant teach. Her rebounding has always been huge.Harper had to contend with Edwardsvilles 6-4 Leigh Kesper and 6-2 Emmonnie Henderson, but beat the Tigers towering duo to the ball time after time. No. 32 (Henderson) is very big, so we just tried to work around it and try to find advantage on defense, Harper said. Its just experience and working hard.This means a lot, Ive been at Whitney Young three years and to get a state championship means a lot. Im really happy and blessed to have the team I did.Harpers work on the boards helped Young dart out of the gate. The Dolphins took a 16-6 lead after eight minutes thanks to a three-pointer from the corner by Alexis Lloyd, baskets by 6-foot-6 sophomore Khaalia Hillsman, freshman Tanita Allen and Thompson and three free throws by Brame.The Dolphins continued their relentless push in the second quarter. Lloyds jumper in the lane made it 28-10 with 3:06 remaining, and her rebound of Harpers miss extended the lead to 32-12. Sydney Snower put the final touches on the first half with a short fade in the lane. About the only thing Edwardsville fans had to cheer about in the first half was a vicious pick set by Henderson on Lloyd midway through the second quarter. But Henderson picked up her third foul moments later and finished the first half with just two points and four rebounds.Young led by 23 points at 50-27 on a three-pointer by Jasmine Ogunjimi with 6:56 remaining in the fourth quarter before Edwardsville closed on a 24-13 run. But it was too little too late.We had a letdown, Irvin said. We lost focus for a little bit in the second half. Its tough to keep them focused when you have a lead like that.If Young began celebrating too early, it was a fault easily forgiven.I think its great, Irvin said. Im sure its going to go down in history. I think this is probably one of the best teams in Illinois history. Its good for the program. Its good for the school. Im really proud of the girls and everything theyve done this year.Lloyd and Allen each finished with nine points for Young. Ashia Jones led Edwardsville (34-2) with 18 points and Henderson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.Im proud that we didnt quit, Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. It would have been awfully easy to. What they did to us in the first half is what weve done to everybody all year. We knew it was going to be tough coming in. Theyre awfully talented, well-coached and a great program.

Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

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Rodon, White Sox battle Orioles on tonight on CSN

The White Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Carlos Rodon vs. Mike Wright

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Jon Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

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Jon Lester takes mound as Cubs face Braves today on CSN

The Cubs take on the Atlanta Braves today, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Aaron Blair

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Best of the rest: QB, DL among Bears' targets on Day 2

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Best of the rest: QB, DL among Bears' targets on Day 2

Leftovers sometimes get a bad name. Pizza, chili, fine wine -- sometimes they're better the second day or at least after a little time to reach taste peaks. Some NFL draft picks may  be better if allowed to age overnight. The Bears, sitting at No. 10 in the second round, hope that's the case.

The selection of Georgia’s Leonard Floyd addressed Need No. 1 for the Bears: a pass rusher to get them off the field with third-down plays. But Needs No. 2-through-whatever remain to be filled with best-available’s from a draft board already picked over in some key areas.

The Bears had the chance to trade up into the first round from their spot at No. 10 in the second, but chose to keep their powder dry for day two’s second and third rounds.

  • Quarterback

Pace uncharacteristically expressed positives about the 2016 quarterback draft class: “It really is a good class of quarterbacks, and they’re all unique and they’re all a little different,” he said. “I think some guys are going to have different perspectives of different flavors, but it’s a good class. It breaks after a certain point and then there are some middle round guys that are intriguing for different reasons. It’s just up to us to analyze that and rank that correctly and I think we have.”

The Bears had private meetings with 10 different quarterbacks this offseason, indicating more than a casual interest in finding the right backup for Jay Cutler.

Already gone: Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch

Best remaining: Connor Cook, Michigan State; Kevin Hogan, Stanford; Dak Presott, Mississippi State.

  • Defensive line

The defensive tackle position is rated one of the best in draft history. The Bears used a No. 2 last year and landed starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman and hope to have Ego Ferguson (a 2014 No. 2) back from knee surgery to go on the other side of Goldman in the base 3-4. But the defense was one of the NFL’s poorest at stopping the run and even with new, veteran inside linebackers, the foundation is the front.

Already gone: Joey Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Sheldon Rankins, Shaq Lawson, Kenny Clark, Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Butler.

Best remaining: A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Andrew Billings, Mississippi; Jarran Reed, Alabama.

  • Tight end

Pace described the tight-end class as just “OK,” and the Bears lost one of the NFL’s best in trading away Martellus Bennett. One the plus side: No team dipped into the shallow talent pool in the first round.

Already gone: None.

Best remaining: Hunter Henry, Arkansas; Austin Hooper, Stanford; Nick Vannett, Ohio State.

  • Defensive back

The Bears had myriad options to select a cornerback or safety with their first-round pick but addressed the need for pass rush instead. But seven teams went for the back-end of the defense first within the first 25 picks of the first round.

Already gone: Jalen Ramsey, Eli Apple, Vernon Hargreaves, Karl Joseph, Keanu Neal, William Jackson, Artic Burns.

Best remaining: Vonn Bell, Ohio State; MacKensie Alexander, Clemson; Maurice Canady, Virginia.

  • Other notables in Bears’ need areas

Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama