Jackson stars in Glenbard North upset

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Jackson stars in Glenbard North upset

Matt Harness
SeasonPass.com

Justin Jackson did almost everything he could do to lead Glenbard North to Champaign for the first time since 2007.

The junior running back carried the ball 44 times for 236 yards and scored all four touchdowns in the Panthers 27-24 win over Loyola in the Class 8A semifinals Saturday. Jackson also started at cornerback and was spotted on special teams.

Its awesome, said Jackson, who was on the same field last year when the Panthers ended their season with a 28-13 loss to Loyola in the same round of the playoffs. It feels great to be able to help the team out.

Jacksons 59-yard TD run his third rushing TD of the game with 23 seconds left in the third quarter put the No. 6-ranked Panthers (12-1) ahead 27-10, but No. 3 Loyola (11-2) staged a spirited rally to make things interesting down the stretch. Jackson also added a 19-yard touchdown catch with 6:34 left in the first half.

Senior Peter Pujals connected with senior Luke Ford for two late TDs in a little more than two minutes, but the Ramblers ran out of time after the onside kick was recovered by the Panthers, who won their 12th consecutive game.

Glenbard North rarely strayed from its game plan of giving the ball to Jackson, either on handoffs up the middle or on toss sweeps to the outside.

Hes a good running back, said Loyola senior nose tackle Darby Goodwin of the 6-foot, 175-pounder, who runs with a combination of speed and power. We could have tackled better.

Once again, Loyolas offense struggled to move the ball, totaling four three-and-outs during the first half. Meanwhile, the Panthers took advantage and a 14-0 lead.

The Ramblers got on the board with a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Mike Kurzydlowski in the final minute of the second quarter to cap a 10-play, 67-yard drive. Loyola then scored on its first series of the second half on Pujals 12-yard pass to senior Richie Wehman in the third minute of the third quarter to leave the score 14-10.

But Glenbard North answered with its own scoring drive that featured six runs by Jackson, including a 12-yarder into the end zone. After a Loyola punt, Jackson showed hes the total package by breaking through the line before racing past defenders for a 59-yard score.

I didnt think we would run that much, and I didnt know how much success I would have, said Jackson, who hopes to do his part in getting Glenbard North its first-ever state championship in football. All credit goes to the guys up front. We won the line of scrimmage, and thats what really changed the outcome of the game.

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

A milk carton was a more likely place to find Bobby Portis than on a basketball floor playing big minutes for the majority of his second season.

He could often be found in the locker room before games and listening to the older players talk to the media afterward, trying his best to fight off the frustration and admitted confusion that comes with the regression of not getting playing time.

When Portis did play, he looked nothing like the confident and borderline cocky rookie who often referred to himself in the third person in interviews. He didn't know when he would play, how long he would be out there or even worse, what was expected of him.

The trade of Taj Gibson at the deadline — preceded by the temporary benching of Nikola Mirotic — put Portis back in the spotlight and he's intent on making the most of it during the last 23 games of the regular season.

"It's fun. You know go out there every day just to know that it's another day I'm going to play," Portis said. "That's the biggest thing for me. I feel like that's already a confidence builder right there, just coming into every game knowing that I'm in the rotation. It's great fun to go out there and play."

It's no secret the front office the Bulls want Portis to succeed and not add him to the ledger of some of the first-round disappointments that can be recalled in recent memory.

The trade of Gibson was certainly underlined with the mantra that Portis should play and the way was going to be cleared for Portis, one way or another. Scoring 19 with eight rebounds against the Celtics on national TV right before the All-Star break probably gave Portis enough validation considering he was thrust into the starting lineup at power forward soon after.

"I don't care about nobody judging me," Portis said. "At the end of the day I'm going to play basketball. That's my job. I'm going to go out there and do the things I do well. I feel like sometimes people misconstrue just because you don't play and they can say some things like that. I don't really care about anybody judging me at this point. At the end of the day I'm still going to be Bobby Portis at the end of the day."

Well, clearly, the third person thing hasn't left the second-year forward, but he said he stayed in the gym waiting on his opportunity, even through a quick but confusing stint to Hoffman Estates to the D-League.

"Just being hungry. Humble and hungry," Portis said. "You know one thing I always strive off of is being humble and hungry. That kept me sane. My mom, I talked to her a lot. She kept me grounded. It's kind of tough not playing and going through the season knowing that some games you might play, you might not play. You know it's about waiting your turn, but at the same time you have to keep working."

Being the fifth big in Fred Hoiberg's rotation didn't leave him a lot of room for Portis to get much run or even find a rhythm, and like many others who've found themselves out of the rotation unexpectedly, it was without much of an explanation.

"Nah, I didn't really know what I could do to get minutes," Portis said. "The one thing that I know that I always do is just come in here every day, work as hard as I can, let the dominos fall how they fall. Every day I come in here, just bust my butt for some minutes, but sometimes it wouldn't work."

Now that he has found himself into Hoiberg's good graces, his improving range has allowed both units to play similiarly.

"I think Bobby has done a real nice job," Hoiberg said. "He was a huge part of our win against Boston in our game right before the break. He just goes out and plays with so much energy. What I really like about him right now is he has no hesitation on his shot. He's stepping into his 3 with good rhythm."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears will not use franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bears will not use franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Nick Friedell (ESPNChicago.com) and Danny Parkins (670 The Score) join David Kaplan on the panel.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Bears will not use the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery for the second straight year. Is that the right move? And what will Ryan Pace do with all of his team’s cap space?

The Bulls are winning but their new, young point guard doesn’t know his role. Will anything ever change with the Bulls?

That plus Scott Paddock drops by to recapping a thrilling Daytona 500 finish.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: