Simeon tops Evanston to head down state

701836.png

Simeon tops Evanston to head down state

By Dan Ruane
YourSeason.com
Simeon coach Robert Smith keeps warning people that his team will not win state unless it starts executing its offense better. But what Smith will acknowledge is that the Wolverines have been playing stellar defense.The top-ranked Wolverines continued to dominate in the Class 4A bracket with a 59-34 victory Tuesday over No. 9 Evanston in the Chicago State Supersectional.Simeon (31-1) will play No. 4 Bloom (28-3) at 8:15 p.m. Friday in the second Class 4A state semifinal. The Wolverines will be vying for an IHSA record sixth state championship and their fifth in the last seven years.There was too much selfishness with the ball in the first half, said Smith, whose team led 29-19 after two quarters. We cant just rely on Jabari (Parker) to get it done for us.Simeon took advantage of a nervous Evanston squad early on. They forced the Wildkits (21-11) into six early turnovers and two missed shots while racing to an 8-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game. A key play in that run was an alley-oop dunk by Kendrick Nunn that ignited the crowd. It was a sign of things to come for Nunn.Nunn is still young. He wont turn 17 till August, Smith said. He did a great job of wearing their shooter (Josh Irving) down.Nunn scored 13 points and had five assists. But it was his defense against Irving that made a difference. He forced Irving into shooting 3-for-14 from three-point range and held the senior guard to 10 points.I thought they were quicker to loose balls than us and got points off of that, Evanston coach Mike Ellis said. I thought we couldve had more opportunities inside. We didnt think aggressively enough to beat a team like Simeon.Parker had his usual strong game for the Wolverines. The junior, forward scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds and had six blocks. The Wolverine guards Nunn, Jaleni Neely, Reggie Norris, Jaylon Tate and Kendall Pollard held the Evanston trio of Irving, Jordan Perrin and Leonard Garrin to 6-for-28 shooting. This follows a pattern throughout the playoffs for Simeon of holding teams down in the second half while outscoring its opponents by an average of 23 points for the game.We were talking on the bus on the way down here about being happy anytime you can get Downstate, Smith said. We have added pressure this year because we are ranked nationally. But I liked the way that our guys didnt celebrate tonight. They know we have two more games to win.

Sights and Sounds from Cubs visit to Donald Trump's White House

Sights and Sounds from Cubs visit to Donald Trump's White House

The 45th President of the United States Donald Trump welcomed the 2016 World Series champion Cubs to The White House on Wednesday afternoon.

While attendance was optional due to the Cubs already holding a formal ceremony with former President Barack Obama last January, several Cubs players and manager Joe Maddon attended Wednesday's gathering. 

Check out some of the sights and sounds from the Cubs busy day in D.C.

Vice President Mike Pence gets his own Cubs jersey.

Trump wants to know who the best hitter on the Cubs is so he can pick them up for his fantasy baseball team (we made up that last part).

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert crashes the party.

The Cubs display a card displaying No. 45 for President Trump.

Who is the Cubs owner in this picture?

Who is Victor Caratini? Breaking down the Cubs' new catcher

Who is Victor Caratini? Breaking down the Cubs' new catcher

Miguel Montero is out and Victor Caratini is in.

The Cubs made a shakeup at catcher Wednesday and will have to forge the last half of the 2017 season without the presence of veteran Montero, who has 1,149 MLB games under his belt and was hitting .286 with an .805 OPS this year.

But Montero talked his way out of town and Caratini is the immediate choice for a replacement behind starting backstop Willson Contreras.

[Where it all went wrong with Miguel Montero and the Cubs]

Caratini is a 23-year-old switch-hitter whom the Cubs acquired from the Atlanta Braves in 2014 as part of the Emilio Bonifacio/James Russell deadline deal. The Braves initially selected Caratini in the second round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Miami-Dade College.

The Puerto Rican native has mostly played catcher (297 games) in his minor-league career, but has also seen time at first base (76 games) and third base (57 games). 

Caratini got his first taste of big-league spring training action this season, impressing with a .379 average and 1.175 OPS in 16 games (29 at-bats).

He is enjoying the best offensive season of his career in Triple-A Iowa, hitting .343 with a .384 on-base percentage and .923 OPS.

Caratini has already set a career high with eight home runs while clubbing 20 doubles and driving in 54 runs in 68 games. He also has only 40 strikeouts in 245 at-bats.

The Cubs named Caratini the organization's minor league player of the month in May after he drove in 17 runs in 24 games while hitting .366 with a .573 slugging percentage.

Caratini also should help the Cubs running game — an area where Montero was 0-for-31 in throwing out baserunners. Caratini has nabbed 28 percent of would-be basestealers in Iowa, a mark that is directly even with the MLB average.

Contreras is throwing out 34 percent of would-be basestealers in 2017.

Caratini figures to be the short-term answer for the Cubs at catcher given the organzation doesn't have many other options. Kyle Schwarber has not been a viable option behind the plate after recovering from major knee surgery that sapped almost his entire 2016 season. Taylor Davis — a 27-year-old catcher/infielder — is currently on the disabled list and has yet to make his MLB debut.