Highlighting High School Lites

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Highlighting High School Lites

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

Chicagoland prep basketball is home on Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The Public League has the spotlight this week, as well hit key rivalry games in Simeon vs. Morgan Park and Whitney Young vs. Farragut. Plus, our cameras will take you to the Southland Conference for a pivotal battle between Crete-Monee and Bloom. Who wins the battle of Naperville? And will Bogans solid run continue? 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
Morgan Park (8-4) @ No. 1 Simeon (14-0), 4:00pm

The biggest challenge for Simeon Friday will be avoiding the temptation to look ahead to Sundays epic showdown with Nevadas Findlay Prep, a team like Simeon that is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Jabari Parker and Simeon come into the Battle of Vincennes off a 95-61 thrashing of Brooks on Wednesday. Talented junior guard Billy Garrett Jr. will lead the Morgan Park attack. The Mustangs, paced by Garretts 30 points, were victorious Wednesday against Vocational.
Brooks (6-11) @ No. 8 Bogan (15-1), 5:30pm
Luwane Pipkins, Kendall Wesley, Juwan Henry and Devonte Smith continue to cause fits for every Bogan opponent. The Bengals ran past Corliss Wednesday 99-38. Pipkins finished with 23. If Bogan wins, they will join either Simeon or Morgan Park as the lone undefeateds in the Red South conference. Brooks is in rare companyand not necessarily in a good way. Friday will mark their third straight game against a top 10 opponent (Tuesday- De La Salle, Wednesday- Simeon).

No. 16 Whitney Young (7-5.) @ Farragut (7-5), 5:30pm

Classic Red-West rivalry game on the west side. Is Whitney Youngs sophomore center Jahlil Okafor a future No. 1 draft pick? One writer thinks he has the potential to become one. Okafor is proving his case for multiple awards on the high school level this season, as hes carrying a team that has been limited due to injuries to Tommy Hamilton and Paul White. Rashaun Stimage is the heart and soul of the Farragut attack. The senior center racked up another double-double (19 points, 10 boards) Wednesday in a loss to Marshall.
Crete-Monee (11-3) @ No. 14 Bloom (14-2), 6:30pm

It's a good thing that Crete-Monee will have two days to rest up for Bloom. They were on the winning end of a triple overtime marathon Tuesday night against Thornwood, 74-63. Illinois recruit Michael Orris was clutch, hitting a key 3 in the third overtime. He, along with teammates Marvie Keith and LaQuan Treadwell will be eager to challenge a Bloom team that ran out to a 19-0 lead against Joliet Central Tuesday, winning 55-35. Senior guard Donald Moore leads the Blazing Trojans in a game that could go a long way in deciding the Southland conference.
Rich East (6-10) @ No. 20 Rich South (14-4), 6:30pm

Crete-Monee and Bloom have company in the Southland conference. The Stars got their biggest win of the year last week in a buzzer-beater against Bloom, avenging an earlier loss to the Blazing Trojans in the McDipper Tournament. Center John Ruffin and forward Marquell Small should get a lot of looks. The Rockets are coming off a nice 57-41 win over Kankakee. Ronald Lawton, Raheem Jackson and 6-foot-5 forward Shamond Kemp will create challenges for South.
Prairie Ridge (4-11) @ No. 13 Huntley (13-1), 7:00pm

The Red Raiders are proving to be one of the nice success stories in the northwest suburbs this season. They haven't taken their foot off the gas yet, as Tuesday's 43-33 win over Crystal Lake South would indicate. Six-foot-six phenom Amanze Egekeze, who is attracting attention from several Division I schools, is their go-to guy. Prairie Ridge played well against Dundee-Crown Tuesday night but faded down the stretch, losing 51-40. Luke Keller had 13 points for the Wolves and will look for more on Friday.

Grayslake Central (10-5) @ Hampshire (8-7), 7:00pm

The 8-7 Whips might have the quietest six-game winning streak around. They took four straight at the DeKalb Holiday tournament, and won two more over Fox Valley conference foes to start the new year. Tyler Crater, Brock Ralphs and Tyler Watzlawick are all key contributors for Hampshire. Grayslake Central will also come in with momentum, as they defeated Woodstock 73-53 Tuesday night. Senior center Casey Boyle, who scored 16 for the Rams in the victory, will get a lot of looks Friday night as well.
Leo (9-6) @ Brother Rice (10-5), 7:30pm

Speaking of quiet winning streaks, the Leo Lions have rattled off five straight victories. Their latest effort was a 69-65 overtime thriller on Tuesday against Hales. Brother Rice will need to contain Leos senior center Russell Woods. He tallied 23 points and 12 rebounds in the game against Hales. The Crusaders have a few weapons of their own in Garrett ONeill, Alex Majewski and Sean Fitzpatrick. Each team needs a win to keep pace with Seton in the Catholic South.
Naperville Central (10-4) @ Naperville North (10-4), 7:30pm

This battle of Naperville doesnt receive the headlines that the football game gets, but this matchup should go a long way in deciding the fate of an up-for-grabs DuPage Valley. North is on a roll, off to a 5-0 start in conference, highlighted by Saturdays 53-51 win over then-first place West Aurora. Mike Keane, Derek Westman and Matt Stachio are key contributors for the Huskies. Central, 2-3 in conference and winners of the Wheeling Hardwood Classic, is paced by sophomore center Nick Czarnowski.

Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland basketball courts. This week's episode will air just after the Bulls-Celtics game and SportsNet Central. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment. This week, be sure to check out CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, Huntley. Forget junior or senior leadership: a sophomore is guiding the Red Raiders to the upper echelon of the rankings. Also, we'll have the latest on the top-ranked Simeon Wolverines 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

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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