Curie gets best of rival Bogan

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Curie gets best of rival Bogan

By Clyde Travis
YourSeason.com

The Bogan-Curie matchup was a game that rivalries are made of. Both teams are on Pulaski Avenue, with two all-city players each, and who suffered a loss to top-ranked Simeon. As expected, it was a battle to the finish with Curie outlasting Bogan 50-47 in the semifinals of the Public League Playoffs Wednesday at DePaul University.

The Condors scored the first points and never relinquished the lead in the defensive battle. A free throw by Jabreel Jackson proved to be the magic number as Jackson shot the back end of a two-shot foul to give the Condors a 48-45 lead with 1:36 remaining in the fourth quarter. The lead was cut to 49-47 with 33 seconds remaining but another made free throw by Malcolm Hill-Bey made it 50-47 with 12.1 seconds.

Bogan set up a play and appeared to have an open three-pointer to tie the score but 6-9 Cliff Alexander came off his man and blocked the shot. Alexander said he felt that they were going to go for the three-point play instead of the two so he left his man. It was just a feeling and I took a gamble and it worked out for us, said Alexander.Curie coach Mike Oliver said it was team defense that got the victory. No matter whether our offense is clicking or not, we are always going to play tough defense. Thats what we hang our hat on, said Oliver. Bogan is a tough tenacious team and we knew we had to be up for a physical game.Devin Foster led Curie with 13 points and eight rebounds. Alexander had nine points and 16 rebounds and five blocks. But the X-factor in the game was Curies two-sport star Maurice Fleming. After missing the entire football season, Fleming, a starter last year, saw his first action of the season and contributed with three crucial three pointers and some tough man to man defense. It felt good to be playing and even better to contribute, said Fleming. Bogan is a very physical team and I was glad I was out there. Bogan coach Arthur Goodwin said his team has nothing to hang their heads about. We played a horrible first half, but as a coach I know my kids gave me everything that they had, said Goodwin. Devonte Smith led the Bengals with 19 points. Ronnell Buckner scored 10.

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

Wonky streaks, good fortune over Cavs on the line for Bulls

No matter the metric or the occasion, the only thing definitive about the Bulls over the last two seasons has been their mystifying dominance over the Cleveland Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups.

That, and their fascinating streak of consecutive wins while playing at home on TNT, a streak that could end at 19 games Thursday night when the two teams with varying objectives clash at the United Center.

The Cavaliers are searching to find themselves, along with a light switch that will perhaps alert them to a lost defense over the past several weeks that has been worst in the league since the All-Star break.

The Bulls are searching for consistency, but since it’s probably a little too late in the season for that, they’ll settle for a playoff spot with eight games left.

They’ll take two straight wins for the first time in a month, if they can get it.

They’ll extend a goofy streak, if that’s what things will come down to.

“The big thing is obviously you have to execute very well against this Cleveland team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You have to go out there with great urgency, great energy. I anticipate them coming in and playing with a ton of energy tomorrow. We’re going to have to match that. We’re going to have to come out and play physical basketball.”

Having a big break between games this late in the season is a rarity, as the Bulls have been off since Sunday evening, but it’s just another weird detail in this weird Bulls experience.

An experience that the mild-mannered Hoiberg has to experience from his couch some nights, such as watching the Miami Heat furiously steal a game in Detroit at the buzzer with a Hasaan Whiteside tip-in to extend a lead over his team to a game, followed by another win Wednesday to put more distance between the two teams.

“I did, actually,” said Hoiberg with a smirk when asked if he’s scoreboard watching and paying attention to the teams ahead of the Bulls in the playoff race.

After being prompted to give his raw emotions when Whiteside’s tip-in occurred, he slipped right back to Robo-Hoiberg—although one can imagine how animated he must’ve been while looking to catch a break from a previous contender for the eighth spot in the Pistons.

“It is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “You have to go out and worry about yourselves at this time of year. It was a great finish for Miami, obviously, the way that game ended. But there’s nothing you can do about that. You’ve got to worry about yourselves and hopefully go out and execute.”

Going 6-1 against the Cavaliers in his two seasons as Bulls coach is probably the biggest feather in his cap, including three wins in all three meetings this go round.

The rhyme or reason doesn’t seem explainable, but Nikola Mirotic seemed to give a few keys to the Bulls’ success over LeBron James’ Cavaliers: Sharing the ball, controlling the glass and getting back on defense.

“Against big teams, we play much better,” Mirotic said. “I don’t know why is the reason for that. We need to find a way to play against everybody like that. It’s on us. We just have to prove it.”

Usually, those tenets seem to work against most teams, not just the supremely talented champions who’ve just lost a grip on first place in the conference.

But their inconsistencies have left the Bulls here with a handful of games left before the April 12th finale.

A win over Cleveland could mean everything, or nothing at all, or something in between.

“Sure, we understand,” Mirotic said. “We’ve been in a very similar situation last year. We didn’t make the playoffs so this year we want to try to make that push. I think we have a good schedule for the last. Very important game tomorrow, huge one. I think we have played very well against Cleveland until now. We have a chance. We need to get out there and play with energy.” 

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