Preps: Maine South, Mt. Carmel to play for 8A title

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Preps: Maine South, Mt. Carmel to play for 8A title

Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010
1:09 AM

YourSeason.com

Jimmy Frankos called Saturday's 29-22 win over Loyola in Wilmette the best game he's ever played in.

It's not hard to believe him after the Hawks scored 16 points in the game's final 2:43 to come from behind to beat the Ramblers and earn the Park Ridge program's third consecutive trip to the Class 8A championship game.

"We stuck with it," said the junior, who kicked three field goals. "That's probably the best game in Maine South history."

After sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti scored on a three-yard run to get Maine South within 22-19, junior linebacker Tyler Fahey recovered Spencer Perry's fumble in the end zone on Loyola's first play of the next series.

Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver, whose 64-yard touchdown run with 5:09 seemingly put the game out of reach at 22-13, then fumbled the ball away on a sack. The Ramblers turned the ball over four times in the second half that resulted in 13 points.

Frankos followed Weaver's turnover with a career-long 43-yard field goal. But the Ramblers, who trailed 10-0 in the first half, weren't finished, either.
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Mount Carmel staves off late rally

Vontrell Williams has heard the whispers about a Mount Carmel program that hasn't won a state title since 2002 and hasn't played in a state championship game since 2006.

He and his Caravan teammates answered the doubters on Saturday afternoon by beating Homewood-Flossmoor 28-21 in a Class 8A semifinal at Gately Stadium.

Mount Carmel (11-2) advanced to its 14th title game in 25 seasons under coach Frank Lenti and will play Maine South (11-2) in the 8A final next Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.

"We're proving Mount Carmel hasn't lost a step," said Williams, a junior defensive lineman who forced an H-F fumble in the closing seconds to help seal the win. "Like coach Frank Lenti always says, 'It's not our job to drop the tradition, it's our job to enhance the tradition."

The Caravan did that by limiting the damage done by H-F running back Malik Norman, who had rushed for 1,987 yards and 31 touchdowns before Saturday. He finished with 47 yards and one TD on 23 carries.

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Lake Zurich advances to Championship

Lake Zurich's players came into Saturday's 7A semifinal with St. Rita expecting to win.

What the Bears didn't expect, and what St. Rita couldn't fathom, was a shutout. They got one, a 21-0 victory over the Mustangs, to vault them into next week's 7A championship game against Wheaton-Warrenville South.

"I'm on top of the world right now," rusher and defensive back Mike Shield said. "But nothing's over yet. We've still got to get that last thing. I guarantee we'll remember a lot more if we go down there and get that last victory."

Shield intercepted a Brendan Johnson pass to stop one St. Rita drive, plus scored the final Lake Zurich touchdown, and wasn't the only star for the Bears. Quarterback Zach Till ran for Lake Zurich's first touchdown in the first quarter and passed to Jon Mularz for another in the second quarter. Jacob Brinlee rushed for 75 yards on 20 carries.

The key, though, was in shutting down St. Rita's offense. En route to its fourth shutout of the season, the Bears' defense held rusher Jahwon Akui to 77 yards on 23 carries, and forced four turnovers, the last three on St. Rita's last three drives.

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Curie wins Public League Championship

Despite the increasing controversy as to whether or not the Public League playoff champion should be called "city champs," Curie took care of the business at hand and joined the ranks of Public League champions for the first time ever with a 40-34 double over time victory over Morgan Park.

On a third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Brandon Barker scored the game's winning touchdown as he recovered a fumble in the end zone.

The Mustangs sent the game into overtime with 3:31 remaining in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by quarterback Dae' Shaun Hurley, but instead of falling apart the Condors fought back. p>Curie scored first in over time on a 10-yard run by Kevonta McIntyre. Morgan Park responded with a nine-yard touchdown run by Hurley. In the second over time Hurley was stopped on fourth down at the 1-yard line. Curie ran two plays to the 2-yard line. But a fumble on third down set up Barkers heroics.

That was the hustle play of my life, said Barker. But thats the way we have been taught to play. Its something Ill never forget.

Barker scored an 18-yard touchdown run and caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Reese Fleming Jr. earlier.

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Fenwick captures Catholic League crown

Joe Kelly had an up-and-down night for Fenwick on Friday, or maybe it's better to call it down-and-up.

Three plays after fumbling away a punt, Kelly picked off a Brother Rice pass in the red zone to help seal a 7-3 win for Fenwick in the Catholic League title game at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

Kelly had two of the five takeaways for the Fenwick defense as the Friars (7-5) advanced to the Prep Bowl for the first time since 1991. Fenwick will play the winner of Saturday's Public League championship game between Morgan Park and Curie Friday at Soldier Field.

Kelly recovered a Brother Rice fumble in the third quarter and then picked off a pass with 5:21 left in the fourth period. That came just moments after he mishandled a punt to give the Crusaders (6-6) a first down at the Fenwick 20.

"It wasn't my night in punt returns," Kelly said. "I didn't want to let my team down. I had to make a play to make up for it and I did that."

Rice got the ball back one more time after forcing a Fenwick punt, but fumbled it away on the next play and the Friars' Joe Di Somma recovered. Fenwick then ran out the clock.

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NBA offseason gone wild as league executives go into overdrive to compete with Golden State

NBA offseason gone wild as league executives go into overdrive to compete with Golden State

NBA free agency doesn't officially begin until 11 p.m. Chicago time on Friday, but league executives have already gone into overdrive in their race to create the next super-team to compete with the Golden State Warriors.

Rockets GM Daryl Morey hinted he had a big move up his sleeve last week, suggesting the Warriors "aren't unbeatable." Well, Morey unveiled that big move on Wednesday, rounding up a bunch of non-guaranteed contracts from all over the league to help him acquire Clippers' All-Star point guard Chris Paul before free agency even begins.

Paul met with Clippers officials on Tuesday, and basically told Doc Rivers he was going to sign with Houston as a free agent, so if the Clippers wanted to get anything for him, they better work out a trade right away. The return L.A. got in the 7-for-1 deal was hardly overwhelming, headlined by Chicago native Patrick Beverley and super-sub Lou Williams, and it showed once again how league executives are powerless if a star player decides he wants a chance of scenery.

Paul and James Harden wanted to play together, and Morey and his staff came up with a creative way to get it done. And, by all reports, Morey isn't done yet. The Rockets are hoping to swing a deal for either Paul George or Carmelo Anthony as a third star in the frontcourt, giving them a shooter's chance against the champion Warriors.

George is one of the biggest chess pieces being moved around boards in executive offices all around the league. Ever since George informed Pacers management he isn't interested in re-signing with the team, GM Kevin Pritchard has been searching for the best possible deal.

The Cavaliers would love to add George as the new third star on their super-team with LeBron and Kyrie Irving and send Kevin Love to the Pacers or to a third team that would provide Indiana with young players and/or draft picks.

Boston is hoping to trade some of Danny Ainge's treasure-trove of draft picks to bring George in, but only after they make a free agent run at Utah All-Star swingman Gordon Hayward, who played his college ball for Celtics coach Brad Stevens at Butler. Remember, making a trade for George carries a lot of risk, since he's eligible to become a free agent next summer and could wind up being a one-year rental.

George has told anyone who will listen he plans to sign on with the Lakers in the summer of 2018, but will new Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson get antsy with all the trade interest in George and try to bring him in now? Is it worth it for Magic to give up young players like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson if he can just wait a year and sign George without giving up any assets?

We're already hearing reports of George trying to recruit Warriors sharp-shooter Klay Thompson to join him on the Lakers when Klay becomes a free agent in 2019. And, speculation continues about LeBron heading west to join the Lakers if the Cavs come up short of a championship again next season.

So many questions as we approach the start of free agency. Where will Derrick Rose end up after a fourth knee surgery? Will the Clippers be interested in bringing Rose in to play with Blake Griffin and keep Lob City going? And what about veterans like Kyle Lowry, Paul Millsap, Serge Ibaka, Danilo Gallinari, Andre Iguodala, Kyle Korver, J.J. Redick, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson, George Hill, Jrue Holiday and Jeff Teague? What kind of market will they find with fewer teams having the kind of cap space we saw last summer?

And, where will Carmelo Anthony wind up now that Phil Jackson is out as Knicks President? Jackson might be the greatest coach in NBA history after winning 11 championships with the Bulls and Lakers, but it was clear the Zen Master was overmatched as a front office executive. Phil didn't want to travel to scout top college prospects, didn't stay on top of day to day roster moves around the league, and insisted on saddling his coaches with running an offense that didn't translate in today's game.

Maybe now Jeff Hornacek will be able to run his up-tempo offense that had some success in Phoenix instead of Phil's beloved triangle. But don't count on Anthony being a part of next season's Knicks team. Reports out of New York suggest the organization is still intent on dealing Melo, problem is that nasty no-trade clause that Phil gave Anthony on top of a $127 million contract back in 2014.

In the coming weeks, you can count on hearing all kinds of Anthony-related rumors. Maybe a trade to Houston, Boston or even Philadelphia. And, if Melo is able to convince the Knicks to buy out the remainder of his contract, look for him to join forces with LeBron in Cleveland for a shot at that elusive championship ring.

The Knicks may have rid themselves of Phil’s front office mismanagement, but their roster is still a mess with no easy solutions in sight.

The great thing for NBA fans is the buzz created by all the speculation. NBA offseasons are the most impactful of any sport since the acquisition of a star player can cause a major shift in any team's fortunes. Unfortunately here in Chicago, don't expect any free agent buzz this year, unless you're excited about the possibility of a Dwyane Wade buyout.

Bulls Executive VP of Basketball Operations John Paxson made it clear the Bulls are going in a new direction and will be patient and disciplined in their rebuild. That means no spending on veterans this summer as the front office keeps its power dry for some time in the future when the Bulls are closer to being a playoff contender again.

Player development will be the focus of the next couple seasons as Fred Hoiberg and his staff try to find out exactly what they have in young players like Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn, Denzel Valentine, Bobby Portis, Cameron Payne, Paul Zipser, Jerian Grant, Cris Felicio and Niko Mirotic.

Ideally, the Bulls will lose enough games next season to put themselves into position to land a top-3 pick in next year's top-heavy draft. Paxson talked about building a contending team through the draft, and that will require a lot of patience from everyone involved. Adding a Michael Porter, Jr. or Luka Doncic to a young backcourt of Dunn and Zach LaVine and a promising "stretch 4" in Markkanen could be the foundation of the next Bulls playoff team.

So, while the league's top teams engage in a massive arms race to try to close the gap on the Warriors over the next few weeks, all will be quiet in the city of Chicago. The buzzword for Bulls fans for the foreseeable future is PATIENCE.

No, Albert Almora Jr. didn’t subtly give the middle finger to President Donald Trump during Cubs’ White House visit

No, Albert Almora Jr. didn’t subtly give the middle finger to President Donald Trump during Cubs’ White House visit

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

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“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

Almora is 23 years old, confident and focused, rarely straying off message during his interactions with reporters. He grew up in a Cuban-American family in South Florida and traveled with the team in January for the final official event in the Obama White House.   

“Hey, man, it’s not every day you get to meet the president of the United States,” Almora said. “To meet two in one calendar year, for me, is a special feeling.”