High School Lites Preview

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High School Lites Preview

Call it the Diamonds In the Rough edition of High School Lites, if you will. We will head out to two basketball powerhouses that you may not have heard of in 2012. Herscher and Immaculate Conception are part of a select few Illinois programs in that have put together 20-win seasons. Well bring you highlights of their games, along with conference duels in the DuPage Valley and Catholic North. And will Simeon or Curie claim the Chicago Public League trophy Friday night? Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover on this Fridays edition of High School Lites. All rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by The Marines:

FRIDAY GAMES

3 Curie (24-1) vs. 1 Simeon (24-1), 7:00pm (Public League Championship at Chicago State)

Its the rematch that Chicagoland -- and especially Public League -- basketball fans have waited for since the holiday tournament season. Simeon, coming off a 61-51 victory over Orr in the semis, took down Curie in the championship game in Pontiac thanks to a healthy rebounding edge and solid performances by Jabari Parker and Steve Taylor. Will Curie respond in the rematch? They held off Bogan on Wednesday night and will need sophomore center Cliff Alexander and senior guard Devin Foster to help contain one of the most talented teams in the nation.

8 Downers Grove South (19-4) @ 2 Proviso East (22-0), 6:00pm

The West Suburban Gold conference is up for grabs in Maywood. If Proviso wins, they take the league title outright. East, behind Paris Lee, Paris Burns, Trashaun Carroll, Keith Carter and Sterling Brown have been unstoppable this season. As for the 8 Mustangs, Jerron Wilbut is back from a suspension, but don't overlook Jordan Cannon, Kevin Honn and Jamall Millison, who have stepped up nicely in the Wilbut's absence. A win makes DGS the co-champ and it'll ease the pain of a 78-70 loss to the Pirates back in January.

16 St. Rita (14-8) @ St. Joseph (15-8), 7:30pm

The Catholic North figured to be a three-headed monster this season, with St. Rita, St. Ignatius and De La Salle fighting for the top spot in the conference. But St. Joseph is enjoying a huge late-season push, thanks to senior Reggie Johnson and sophomore Paul Turner. St. Rita has played a rigorous out-of-state schedule and is also 8-1 in conference. They have star-power in guard Tony Hicks. He scored 24 points for the Mustangs in the previous meeting between the two schools, won by St. Rita, 60-44.

Walther Lutheran (14-10) @ Immaculate Conception (22-3), 7:30pm

Many recall the winter of 1967 as a time when two feet of snow blanketed Chicagoland. Others recall this time as when the first Super Bowl took place. But for the folks at ICHS, it was the last time the boys basketball team won a conference title. Until now. Everybody is looking up at the Knights, the 2012 Suburban Christian-Gold champs. Forward Brian Harvey and guard John Cheng are tough to contain. As for Walther, 5-9 senior guard Patrell Green is the centerpiece of the Bronco attack.

West Aurora (19-4) @ Naperville North (17-6), 7:30pm

Expect a raucous Friday night in Naperville. The Huskies will have a chance to earn at least a share of the DuPage Valley conference with a win on their home floor. North, who hasn't won the DVC in 14 years, will look to senior forward Mike Keane and sophomore guard Anthony Rehayem to lead the way. However, the Blackhawks are more than battle-tested. Talented senior forward Juwan Starks is one of their go-to guys. West Aurora, who can tie North for the DVC lead, fell to NN 53-51 back on January 7th.

Peotone (10-14 TUES) @ Herscher (23-1), 7:00pm

Herscher has dominated teams in the Interstate Eight conference -- not to mention the Kanakakee Valley area in general -- rather thoroughly this season. They are part of only a handful of teams in Illinois who have won 23 games on the season. Ben Wenzelman, Justin Ruckman and Jordan Ruckman pace the Tigers. Peotone will have some momentum on their side though, after a 48-38 win over Grant Park Tuesday night.

4 Warren (20-2) @ Libertyville (14-10), 7:30pm

Everybody has talked about the success of Warren's Darius Paul and Nathan Boothe this season. But JoVaughn Gaines is another player in the Blue Devils' arsenal that can create mismatch issues for opponents. The 6-5 forward tallied 14 points in Tuesday's 60-38 Warren victory over Lake Zurich. Libertyville has been good in stretches. Senior guard Griffin Pils has had a solid season for the Wildcats. Warren took a 77-53 decision in Gurnee earlier this season.

Mundelein (21-6) @ Stevenson (15-9), 7:30pm

Both teams are in the meaty part of the upper half of a tough basketball conference, the North Suburban-Lake. The visiting Mustangs, who beat Stevenson 59-51 in Mundelein earlier in the year, feature talented guard Robert Knar. He is the son of head coach Richard Knar. The Patriots will be a tough out, though. They have standouts in Michael Fleming and up-and-coming sophomore Matt Morrissey.

Every Friday night, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from around Chicagoland. Our Muscle Milk Team of the Week is Immaculate Conception. This Elmhurst school just won their first conference championship in 45 years. But the Knights goals are much higher in the postseason. Our Kip Lewis has their story. Also, Mark Schanowski catches up with a legend on the girls basketball circuit who has reached the 700-win mark: Maine Wests Derril Kipp. Plus, well take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment, and well have in-depth coverage of the Simeon Wolverines, who will be featured in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than.

High School Lites streams live every Friday on CSNChicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: csnchicagowebsite@comcastsportsnet.com

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

When the Blackhawks found Artemi Panarin, they found a talent who was NHL ready from the start, who found instant chemistry with Patrick Kane and earned a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was also a tremendous panacea for a team that couldn’t pull off a deal to keep Brandon Saad, who was the power forward that fit in beautifully in the Blackhawks’ top six.

On Friday, the Blackhawks brought Saad back and dealt Panarin to do it.   

Saad returns to the Blackhawks, who also acquire goaltender Anton Forsberg, in exchange for Panarin and Tyler Motte. The Blackhawks also get the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and the Columbus gets Chicago’s sixth-round pick from this weekend’s draft. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal. The Blackhawks inherit Saad’s deal, which has four years remaining at a $6 million cap hit. Panarin was about to enter his current deal, which is two years with a $6 million cap hit. This is key for the immediate future; when Panarin’s latest deal is up, if he keeps up at his current pace, he’ll likely sign for a lot more.

[MORE: Blackhawks deal Hjalmarsson to Arizona]

The Blackhawks have missed Saad terribly since his departure. The team has struggled to find consistent line mates with Jonathan Toews, especially at that left-wing position. They did fairly well with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik flanking Toews this season but it wasn’t as strong as the Saad-Toews combination. So it looks like the Blackhawks’ top line will be solidified again.

Now, what about the second line? As good as Toews and Saad’s chemistry was, Panarin’s and Kane’s was dynamite. The two had their respective skill, which they flashed often, and their ability to read each other was evident from the start. The Blackhawks’ second line was as consistent and steady the past two seasons as the top line was during Saad’s time here.

So, there are changes. The Blackhawks will absolutely miss what Panarin brings. But as far as bringing back a former Blackhawks player who could help in the present, getting the 24-year-old Saad back will be very beneficial.