Schaumburg recalls 2001 championship season

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Schaumburg recalls 2001 championship season

Kyle Bolger was 7 years old when he watched the 2001 state championship game between Schaumburg and Thornwood on TV with his parents, brother Brandon and sister Heather.

"I recall (Thornwood's) Eddy Curry and (Schamburg's) Mark Pancratz, the ones everyone was talking about," Bolger said. "The main thing was to shut down Curry (the No. 4 pick in the 2001 NBA draft), the key to the Thornwood team."

Schaumburg's swarming and smothering defense did just that and the Saxons went on to upset heavily favored Thornwood 66-54.

"People still recall what a big accomplishment that was," Bolger said. "They always played hard, no matter what. They never gave up. They stuck together throughout that game. They were a great team that played together and played great defense. That's what our team does. We preach the same thing."

Matt Walsh, in his third year as Schaumburg's head coach, recalls the 2001 team, too. He was an assistant coach at Conant at the time. In fact, with a little luck or twist of fate, it could have been Conant rather than Schaumburg playing in the state final.

"Conant played Schaumburg in the sectional semifinal and lost in overtime. Conant had a shot at the buzzer to win in regulation time but it didn't go down. Schaumburg went on to win state. We realized how good they were," Walsh said.

"People still talk about it. There were some doubters because no Mid-Suburban League team had ever won state. But it wasn't a huge shock to a lot of people in the area. They played together so well. They were so good on defense. And they had strong leaders in Mark Pancratz and Tony Young. They also had 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-8 players. They weren't intimidated by Eddy Curry."

So that was 2001 and this is 2012. How good is this team? Schaumburg is 15-5 and in first place in the Mid-Suburban's West Division after beating Hoffman Estates 69-50 last Friday. The Saxons play at Glenbrook South on Tuesday and at Fremd on Friday.

"Our best days are ahead of us," Walsh said. "This is a good team that has a lot of room for improvement. Only good teams are the ones that are getting better. We play defense every night and we play well together. But we can improve both. The sky is the limit.

"How far can we go? Our past success gives us confidence. We go into every game thinking that we have opportunity to win. Two statistics that we talk about all the time are rebounding and eliminating turnovers. We have the pieces and the players to be as successful as we want to be."

The starting lineup is Bolger (11 ppg, 4 assists), a 6-foot-1 junior point guard; 6-foot-3 senior Christian Spandiary (15 ppg); 6-foot-5 junior Jimmy Lundquist (10 ppg); 6-foot-2 senior Michael Mallett (7 ppg); and 6-foot senior guard Joey Faleni (6 ppg).

Coming off the bench are 5-foot-9 senior Thomas Byrne, the backup point guard; 6-foot-1 junior Cole Reyes, 6-foot-3 junior Bobby Green and 5-foot-11 senior Justin Hill.

Two weeks ago, Bolger scored 13 points and converted two free throws with eight seconds to play to lift Schaumburg past Barrington 49-46 to claim sole possession of first place in the Mid-Suburban West. Spandiary scored 17 points, Lundquist 10. Against Hoffman Estates last Friday, Spandiary scored 14, Mallett 13, Lundquist 12.

"We have great team chemistry, no fighting," Bolger said. "We put in hard work to get better. We play hard but we're all friends at the end of the day. We all grew up playing together in sixth, seventh and eight grade on the Schaumburg Junior Saxons. We've known each other since elementary school and middle school."

Bolger is familiar with the Schaumburg way of doing things. His brother Brandon was an all-conference and all-area player at Schaumburg. His father runs the feeder program. A two-year starter, Kyle is described by Walsh as one of the team's leaders.

"I see myself as one of the leaders of the team," Kyle said. "My job is to get our team to win, whatever it takes."

Bolger and his teammates remember last year, when the team was 18-12 and lost to Niles North by one point in the sectional final. The experience left a disappointing taste in their mouths. They are determined to do better this season.

"Last year, we knew we could have gone farther than we did. It was upsetting to us. We were a better team than that," Bolger said. "We had a big lead against Niles North and lulls on defense gave them momentum at the end of the game. We had a last-second shot. It went in and out. That made everybody feel even worse. We felt we were right there.

"We knew we had to come back and work even harder than last year. We had to step it up because we want to go father this year. We're more experienced this year. I'm the point guard and I have to get people to score. Then they make me look better. The kids know how to score on this team. I have to give them open shots."

Walsh, 36, a Conant graduate of 1993, played basketball at Conant, coached feeder teams while attending Dominican University, then assisted coach Tom McCormack at Conant for 13 years. When coach Bob Williams left Schaumburg, he interviewed for the job and was hired.

"I came to a great program," he said. "I was aware of the great tradition. I was concerned with adding to it. These kids have a culture of hard work and high standards. Kids are held accountable to do the right thing and not always the easy thing."

Walsh grew up and was raised in Schaumburg. He learned the game and was taught the blue-collar values while participating in the park district system. He recognized that parents teach the values of hard work, that they are part of the team.

"It is a blue-collar mentality," he said. "Kids have bought into being unselfish and understanding that if they buy into the philosophy, the rewards of being part of a successful team are ahead of them."

White Sox second-round pick from last year's draft struck out 15 guys Sunday night

White Sox second-round pick from last year's draft struck out 15 guys Sunday night

Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Reynaldo Lopez are household names to White Sox fans after the organization bolstered its farm system this past offseason with a couple blockbuster trades. Luis Robert is already ranked as the team's No. 3 prospect after signing Saturday.

But there were a few top prospects already kicking around the organization before those moves, and one of them struck out 15 batters Sunday night.

Alec Hansen, currently ranked as the organization's No. 10 prospect and last year's second-round draft pick, punched out 15 Greensboro Grasshoppers, allowing just one run in seven innings in the Kannapolis Intimidators' 8-1 win.

It was the continuation of an impressive trend for Hansen this season. He lowered his ERA below 3.00 down to 2.96 on Sunday and has struck out 67 hitters in his 10 starts.

“It was pretty much, for the most part, like my last starts have been going," Hansen said after the game in an interview with team radio. "I’ve been throwing strikes. Just got a lot of swing and misses tonight, really. I think if you back and look at it, they had a lot of swing and misses, it wasn’t a lot of backwards Ks. I guess my stuff was just better tonight than it had been.”

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Hansen has put up tremendous numbers since joining the White Sox organization after what was a challenging junior season at Oklahoma that ended with a 5.40 ERA.

But in 12 minor league starts in 2016, he turned in a pencil-thin 1.32 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 54.2 innings.

He gave up nine earned runs in his first four starts of this season — two of which lasted fewer than four innings — but in the six starts since, he's got a 2.23 ERA in 36.1 innings.

"I’ve been pitching pretty well, and I think I’ve just been going out there and pitching, really," Hansen said. "It sounds simple, but that’s really all it is.

“(What happened) tonight, I’m not expecting that next time out. I just want to keep working and just keep getting outs. I think the biggest thing was no walks tonight. If I can keep doing that, getting deep in games, I think that’s my focus going forward.”

Normally, a 15-strikeout outing like Hansen's would be the organization's minor league highlight of the week. But Giolito, ranked as the team's No. 2 prospect, stole Hansen's thunder with a no-hitter that earned him International League Pitcher of the Week honors Monday.

88 Days to Kickoff: Oak Lawn

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88 Days to Kickoff: Oak Lawn

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Oak Lawn

Head coach: Nick Novak

Assistant Coaches: Bob Novak Jim Clendenning Milt Seaton Mike Ogle Matt Arthur Dave Duer Adam Probst Pat Probst John Robinson Matt Creech Luke Sakal Steve Reed

How they fared in 2016: 3-6 (1-5 South Suburban Red), the Spartans failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoff field.

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 25 – @ Marian Catholic

Sept. 1 – vs. Julian

Sept. 8 – @ Bremen

Sept. 15 - vs Eisenhower

Sept. 22 - vs Argo

Sept. 29 – @ Shepard

Oct. 6 - Reavis

Oct. 13 -@ Evergreen Park

Oct. 20 - @ Richards

Biggest storyline: Can the Spartans continue to improve and win more games in 2017?

Names to watch this season: Senior OL/DL Patrick Michaels, Senior OL/DL Kameron McNicholas and Senior OL Don Ott

Biggest holes to fill: The Spartans will need to reload in the offensive skills in particular this fall with just senior WR Antonio Jones the lone returning starter from last season.

EDGY's Early Take: The Spartans have a good base upfront on both sides of the football and the line play will be asked to help lead an inexperienced group surrounding them. If Oak Lawn can find some answers especially early on in the offensive skills they could be a nice surprise team to watch.