High School Lites preview: Suburban schools square off

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High School Lites preview: Suburban schools square off

With the bulk of Chicago teams on hiatus until the start of the Public League playoffs start next week, its time to showcase some key suburban battles on High School Lites. Our CSN cameras will be all over Chicagoland Friday night. The hottest team in the area might be York high school. Can they win their 12th straight game? Can Minooka get revenge on Plainfield East? And how loud will the fans be at the Illiana Christian-Timothy Christian battle royale? 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:

THURSDAY GAME

Benet (15-4) @ St. Viator (17-3), 7:30pm

The host Lions are holding onto first place in the East Suburban Catholic conference. Nipping at their heels: Benet. The Redwings no longer have Dave Sobolewski and Frank Kaminsky, but they do have another D-1 prospect in 6-8 sophomore Sean OMara. St. Viator has a talented point guard in D.J. Morris, along with fellow senior supporting cast members of Kevin Walsh and Chris Myjak. Look for a very competitive division battle in Arlington Heights.

FRIDAY GAMES

Rich East (9-11) @ 17 Bloom (18-3), 6:30pm

Lejavious Johnson and Donald Moore are the keys to success for Bloom this season, but players like Johnny Griffin have stepped up to support the Blazing Trojans cause this year. Griffin had 10 points and six rebounds as Bloom drilled Kankakee 77-27 on Tuesday. Rich East played well against Bloom earlier in the year, falling only by nine (59-50). The Rockets, a well-balanced team, have already upset fellow Southland conference mate Rich South.

Minooka (17-6) @ 6 Plainfield East (18-1), 7:00pm

It's been a dream season so far for sixth-ranked Plainfield East, a school that has only been in existence for four years. The Bengals, who are coming off a 64-37 win over Plainfield Central Tuesday night, figure to be tested against Southwest Prairie rival Minooka. The Indians, led by guard Ben Heide, will be looking to avenge a 54-53 loss to East in December. They will match up against a talented group of Bengals, including center Brian Bennett and guard Dee Brown.

Lake Park (15-5) @ Waubonsie Valley (14-7), 7:30pm

The Lancers of Lake Park have been -- very quietly -- creeping into the fabric of upper-tier basketball program conversation in Chicagoland. It makes Fridays game at Waubonsie all the more important. LP, winners of five of six, feature a strong forward in Dominique Spencer. Waubonsie had won eight of nine but currently carry a two-game losing streak. Seniors Jared Brownridge and Demetrius Gray look to carry the load for the Warriors.

Glenbard North (13-4) @ West Aurora (16-3), 7:30pm

Friday is Senior Night at West Aurora, so it figures to be an electric atmosphere. One of those seniors, Jawan Starks, is having an exceptional season. He scored 21 points in Tuesdays 75-40 win over Naperville Central, but twisted his ankle in the second half of that game. He hopes to return Friday against a Glenbard North team featuring high-flying senior forward Josh Fleming. The Blackhawks, who defeated the Panthers 66-52 on December 16th, will look to keep pace with Naperville North in the DuPage Valley.

10 De La Salle (14-3) @ St. Rita (11-8), 7:30pm

If there was a ranking of the top 10 most thrilling games of the 2011-12 season in Chicagland, the St. Rita-De La Salle game on December 2nd have prime real estate on the list. Rita's Tony Hicks scored 31 points as the Mustangs took down the Meteors 66-64 in double overtime in the season opener for both teams. Gavin Schilling and Alex Foster power De La Salle's attack. St. Rita currently has a one game lead over DLS in the Catholic North.

Timothy Christian (11-11) @ Illiana Christian (10-10), 7:30pm

It has been said that classic rivalries are so much better when the two teams are evenly matched. Given the records, what's not to like about Timothy Christian vs. Illiana Christian? The gym in Lansing should be rocking Friday night, as usual. Illiana is coming off a 67-60 win over Fenton. Jon Zandstra is deadly from behind the arc. He had six threes against Fenton. Timothy will respond with junior guard Danny Leach. Timothy beat Illiana in Elmhurst on December 9th.

Buffalo Grove (9-12) @ Rolling Meadows (12-7)

The staff at Rolling Meadows picked a good time to have 'Pack The Place' night. The host Mustangs, first place in the Mid-Suburban East, are balanced top to bottom. Senior guard Brian Nelms is one player that will carry the offense. Buffalo Grove is on a tear. The Bison have won four straight, including Saturday's 49-39 win against Niles West. Guards Luke Potnick and Andrew Apel have contributed nicely this season.

Schaumburg (16-5) @ Fremd (13-8)

A three-way tie atop the Mid-Suburban West could be in the books Friday night if Fremd beats Schaumburg and Barrington beats Palatine. The visiting Saxons, 6-1 in the league, have won seven of their last eight. Forward Christian Spandiary and guard Kyle Bolger. Fremd is coming off a 61-30 walloping of Carmel. Adam Gorecki and Garrett Peters are two of the leaders on the Vikings, who are 5-2 in the MSW.

York (16-7) @ Lyons (8-10)

Kudos to York head coach Tom Kleinschmidt. After his team was pretty much forgotten in December, the former DePaul standout has guided his young Dukes to 11 straight wins. Junior David Cohn, one of the top point guard prospects in the state, has fueled the resurgence. Lyons is also hot, winning six of their last seven. Senior guard Kenneth Smith will lead the Lions into this West Suburban Silver showdown.

Every Friday night, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from around Chicagoland. Well also take an in-depth look at Plainfield East High School, our Muscle Milk Team of the Week. Amazingly, East has only been in existence for four years and yet they boast a top-10 program. What has been the key to their success? Plus, well feature a former 6-8 Morton Mustang star in our Flashback segment, and youll get caught up on the top-ranked Simeon Wolverines, who will be featured in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than. This weeks episode will appear at 11:30pm, just after our Chicago Blackhawks hockey coverage.

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

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

Nick Delmonico takes advantage of fresh start with White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Given he was almost out of baseball just two years ago, White Sox farmhand Nick Delmonico never imagined he’d be where he is now.

But the former Baltimore Orioles/Milwaukee Brewers prospect feels like he has rid himself of the off-the-field issues that stunted development early in his career.

In 2014, Delmonico served a suspension for unauthorized use of Adderall and later asked for and was granted his release by Milwaukee. Now with a fresh start with the White Sox, he heads into the final week of camp with an outside shot at the roster. Though he’s likely to start the season at Triple-A Charlotte, Delmonico knows he has made tremendous progress both on and off the field the past two years.

“I definitely did not see this,” Delmonico said. “I’m very blessed to be here.

“It feels awesome. It feels like I’ve accomplished a lot just in my life to get here. Just being around my teammates is one of the biggest things I enjoy every day, just coming to the ballpark. I’m very happy and honored to be able to come here everyday.”

The White Sox weren’t sure what to expect when they signed Delmonico, 24, to a minor league deal on Feb. 11, 2015. A sixth-round pick by the Orioles in 2011, Delmonico received a $1.525 million signing bonus. He was traded to Milwaukee in July 2013 in exchange for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Delmonico received a 50-game suspension for Adderall in 2014, which he told the Charlotte News Observer he’d used since high school for attention deficit disorder (ADD). Delmonico told the Observer he informed Milwaukee that he no longer wanted to play baseball, changed his phone number and asked for his release. He was placed on the restricted list on July 28 and never played in the Brewers farm system again.

The White Sox signed Delmonico seven months after his final game with Milwaukee and he returned to the field that June.

Delmonico requested privacy when asked about switching teams but acknowledged, “I had some past issues with some stuff that I’d like to keep to myself,” he said.

Delmonico started the 2015 season at Single-A Kannapolis and was promoted a week later to Double-A Birmingham. He finished the season with a .733 OPS and made an additional 76 plate appearances at the Arizona Fall League.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Last season, Delmonico combined to hit .279/.347/.490 with 17 homers between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte in 110 games. That earned him an invite to big league camp, where Delmonico has displayed a swing refined the past two seasons.

Current third-base coach and former director of player development Nick Capra said Delmonico has worked hard to go from a pull hitter to one who uses the entire field. He entered Sunday hitting .268/.328/.589 with nine extra-base hits this spring in a team-high 61 plate appearance this spring.

“This kid has made a complete turnaround from when we first got him in camp,” Capra said. “He’s done everything. He’s done probably more than we expected him to do. He’s in a really great place. He has a personality that people kind of gravitate to and it’s been a blessing to have him around and see the smile on his face when he comes to work every day.”

Originally a third baseman, the White Sox have moved Delmonico around this spring. He’s logged time at first base and also in the outfield as they try to improve his versatility. If Delmonico performs well at Charlotte, there’s no reason he couldn’t eventually find his way to Chicago and succeed in the big leagues.

“We’re continuing to try to explore his ability to play third base,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He can obviously play first. We’ve started using him in left field. He’s a young man that has a bat to carry. Can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Gives you good at-bats. There’s something to him about his personality and the way he carries himself, which is infectious, which we like.”

Delmonico praised the family-feel that has been prominent in the White Sox clubhouse this spring. He had some jitters coming into his first big league camp but hasn’t allowed them to hinder anything.

He likes how Renteria and his staff have brought a young group of players together. And best of all, he’s happy to be in the right place to enjoy the experience.

“It definitely gives you confidence what you do here,” Delmonico said. “You’ve got to keep moving forward. The biggest thing for big league camp for me is learning as much as I can from everybody. And learning from myself, I’ve been able to handle things and try to pick up as much as I can.”

Nikola Mirotic, Bulls show some moxie in road win over Bucks

Nikola Mirotic, Bulls show some moxie in road win over Bucks

Whacked on his ailing left hand by Khris Middleton, Jimmy Butler shook off the pain to hit a rare triple in transition while Middleton was complaining for a foul a couple possessions later.

Butler then darted into the passing lane for a pass intended for Jason Terry like a linebacker jumping into the flat for an interception, then trotted down for an uncontested dunk to give the Bulls an unlikely 17-point lead.

For the man who claims he’s the best football player in the NBA, playing through the pain and doing so with his team’s playoff hopes dwindling, Butler may finally have some believers to his boasts.

Not only did the Bulls avoid a season sweep to the Milwaukee Bucks with a resounding 109-94 win at the BMO Bradley Center Sunday afternoon, they restored a slight sense of pride after looking like they had none of it Friday night in their loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Butler scored 20 with a career-high 13 assists in a grinding 39 minutes, but he could play the role of a semi-closer, making those big plays in the fourth when the Bulls pulled away.

Instead, it was March Madness as Nikola Mirotic played up to his career numbers in his favorite month on the calendar, drilling five triples on his way to 28 points and eight rebounds in 35 minutes.

Mirotic and Rajon Rondo helped the Bulls to a decisive double-digit lead in the third quarter with Rondo scoring 14 of his 18 points in the period, hitting a triple, getting into the lane for layups and dishing out a few of his eight assists.

It was an offensive masterpiece for the Bulls, a prospect that seemed highly unlikely given the opponent and the way they played coming into Sunday’s contest. And with the Bucks getting Giannis Antetokounmpo going early along with Middleton, it looked like a nightmare of a different kind was in store for the Bulls.

But Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg wasn’t about to let an instant replay occur, having seen his own version of a “Nightmare on Madison Street” Friday night against the woeful 76ers when his backups let time stand still for minutes at a time, squandering a double-digit lead.

Hoiberg decided not to mess around with the second unit as the Bucks began pulling away in the same manner the 76ers did Friday night. He brought the starters right back in when the lead ballooned to 45-33 at the 8:29 mark.

Then the Bulls went to work to finish the half, with a 23-10 run, along with starting off the third as efficient as they had been in awhile against a worthwhile opponent, shooting 14 of 21 in the period to take a 91-79 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Mirotic was seven of eight from the field before halftime and his first miss of the third—a 30-foot triple that went wide right, wound up in a 3-point opportunity for Rondo, who scooped the ball and scored on a layup while being fouled.

It was that kind of afternoon for the Bulls, a team that can’t seem to decide who they want to be on a nightly basis—making it that much harder for an opponent to predict, that much more difficult to eliminate from the playoff conversation.