Stone leads Crystal Lake Central's comeback

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Stone leads Crystal Lake Central's comeback

Talk about coming back from adversity. Crystal Lake Central has come from behind in four games this season, scoring on the last drive to win.

"It's been a crazy year," coach Mike Fralick said.

The Tigers edged Huntley 27-26 by driving 91 yards in the last two minutes to score with four seconds left. They marched 70 yards to beat Woodstock 21-14. They drove 78 yards in 16 plays in eight minutes and scored with a minute left to beat Woodstock North 21-14. And they nudged Prairie Ridge 7-3, driving 90 yards to score with 22 seconds to play.

Last Saturday, they didn't need to resort to any last-minute theatrics as they trounced Hyde Park 49-7 in the opening round of the Class 6A playoff.

Jordan Wallace set the tone by returning the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. Matt MacAlpine, in his first full game back after fracturing the fibula in his left leg, scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Kyle Lavand ran for one TD and threw for another as the Tigers built a 42-0 halftime lead.

Crystal Lake Central, which finished behind only Grayslake North in the Fox Valley's Fox Division, will carry an 8-2 record into their second-round game against Grant (8-2) in the second round.

The Tigers have made positive strides since last year's 6-4 finish. "We pulled a tough draw. We lost to Cary-Grove on the road in the first round. But it was a successful season. We did some good things. Our goal always is to qualify for the playoff. And we shared the conference title," Fralick said.

This year's goal is to go beyond the second round, something the school has never done before. In his third year as head coach, with eight starters returning, with depth on both sides of the ball, Fralick felt his team was equipped to meet higher expectations. Especially on defense.

Then the Tigers learned how to spell A-D-V-E-R-S-I-T-Y. Leading rusher MacAlpine, who gained 1,000 yards last year, broke a leg in the season opener. He returned to the lineup for the first time last week but carried only four times for seven yards. He still is rounding into shape. He carried only five times against Hyde Park on Friday.

Without MacAlpine, Fralick implemented a more balanced offense. "We used to be run happy. But I've always believed in balance, pass and run. More than anything else, we have to be more balanced on offense and throw the ball a bit. When we can throw the ball, we are tough to defend," he said.

"I know our defense will be tough. It will come down to executing and being more diverse on offense. I don't know how long it as been since we've had a 1,000-yard passer. But our offense is starting to hit our stride."

The Tigers have a 1,000-yard passer now. He is 6-foot, 175-pound junior Lavand. He transferred from Marian Central in Woodstock after his sophomore year. "I like his poise. He doesn't get rattled. He has an accurate arm and does a nice job of running the offense," Fralick said.

Connor Hines, a 5-foot-8, 205-pound junior fullback, has taken over for MacAlpine. He has rushed for 600 yards in the Tigers' double wing offense. Lavand's chief target is 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior wide receiver Isaiah Mosher.

The 4-4 defense features 6-foot, 195-pound senior linebacker Darwin Stone, Hines at defensive end, 6-foot, 230-pound senior end Kyle Logan and 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior middle linebacker Nathan Talbot.

Fralick, a Woodstock graduate of 1988, played under Bob Bradshaw and Ed Brucker. He was hired as a teacher at Crystal Lake Central and worked his way up the ladder, finally succeeding coach Jon McLaughlin in 2009.

"Coach Brucker was a great influence," he said. "I learned about demeanor. I liked what he did on offense. And I run his 4-4 defense."

Fralick saw the importance of what a well-stocked weight room can do for a team. Until he arrived, weights hadn't been emphasized very much. And the weight room was small and adequate equipment. He renovated the room, moved obsolete equipment out and moved in new sets of dumbbells, power racks and new equipment for dead lifting and squats.

"Now we have one of the top weight rooms in the conference. When I was a freshman, we were at the bottom," Stone said. "I think I'm three times better than I was if the room hadn't been improved. I've put on 60 pounds since my freshman year. I benched 135 pounds; now I bench 275. I squatted 315; now I squat 500. It has made me faster and quicker, from 5.0 seconds for 40 yards to 4.5."

Stone is the leader of Crystal Lake Central's defense, one of five team captains. He hopes to play football in college, maybe at Eastern Illinois, Beloit or Southeast Missouri State. For the time being, however, he is focused on the state playoff and helping his team achieve something historic.

"As a team, we have worked so hard. We really believe we can go far in the playoff. If we stick together, we can make things happen," Stone said. "I feel when we are put in a situation where we have to make things happen and if we don't we lose, that's when we are at our best."

Stone also has rushed for 400 yards as the I-back behind Hines. "When it comes down to it, I'm in for short yardage situations," he said.

But he admits the Tigers are more effective when they are throwing the ball. "We used to be only a running team in the wing T, three yards and a cloud of dust. In the past, we'd pass only 12 to 15 teams in an entire season," he said.

"As freshmen, we were taught to work hard. Not much was expected of the team, we were told, we have to earn it. It was tough to lose MacAlpine. But the team isn't built around one person. It would have been great to have him back. But we'd be in the same spot with him playing all the time."

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

Blackhawks gear up for Wild in 'extremely important' game

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Blackhawks knew their meeting against the Minnesota Wild two weeks ago was a critical contest. This one is right up there, too.

The Blackhawks are trying to keep pace with the front-running Wild, who are seven points ahead of them entering tonight's game.

"There's certainly always something to play for," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks are 10 points ahead of third-place St. Louis. "We want to keep getting better and we're starting to improve over this part of the season. But the point of importance of today's game and keeping it close is important for us, so we'll approach it that way. We were going into the break a week ago, and I'm sure it's an important game for them but it's an extremely important game for us."

Meanwhile the Wild will be trying to do tonight what the Blackhawks did on Feb. 11: go into their bye on a high note. The Wild haven't had many hiccups lately, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. Devan Dubnyk will get the start as the Wild look to keep extending their lead.

"It's one of those games that's a great challenge for your group," Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You're playing a team that's still won three Stanley Cups in the last seven years and they've been in every battle you can imagine. That team gets up for every important game, and I think they'll think this is an important game. It's just about being an athlete. It's one of those things, you love to play in these situations."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Tuesday marks the Wild's 59th game of the season; they had caught up to Chicago during the Blackhawks' bye week, yet will go into their break with a game in hand. Still, the Wild are ready for the respite.

"We're not complaining about it," Charlie Coyle said. "It's a little different, yeah, but in the long run it's going to help us. Just get this rest period, rest the legs, the body, [rest] mentally, come back and get ready for the grind. It's going to be crucial for us and we'll try to take advantage of it."

Matt Dumba (knee) could return to the Wild's lineup tonight but Boudreau wouldn't say for sure.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com and NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks

Forward lines
Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

Injuries/illnesses: None

Minnesota Wild

Forward lines
Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Mikko Koivu-Mikael Granlund
Zach Parise-Erik Haula-Jason Pominville
Chris Stewart-Tyler Graovac-Jordan Schroeder

Defensive Pairs
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Gustav Olofsson-Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella-Matt Dumba

Goaltender
Devan Dubnyk

Injuries/illnesses: None

CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

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CSN to carry live coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

CSN, CSNChicago.com, and the NBC Sports app to carry LIVE coverage of the Class 1A-4A IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships

from Redbird Arena in Normal, IL over the next two weekends

CSNChicago.com to also air highlight packages of all games throughout the weekend;

CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv to also live stream every post-game press conference

Chicago, IL (February 21, 2017) CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home of the IHSA Championships, will be airing LIVE cross-platform coverage of the 2017 Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Girls Basketball State Championships on Friday, February 24 & Saturday, February 25 (Class 1A & 2A) and Friday, March 3 & Saturday, March 4 (Class 3A & 4A) from Illinois State University’s Redbird Arena in Normal, IL.  Over the next two weekends, Illinois preps hoops fans can look forward to seeing every action-packed semifinal, consolation and championship battle starting Friday at 11:00 AM CT featuring four, live semifinal match-ups, along with a pair of consolation and two huge state championship title games on Saturday.  Plus – EVERY game will be telecast in a high-definition (HD) format.  The 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships will be produced by the IHSA & PlayOn! Sports.

In addition -- EVERY IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecast will once again be streamed live on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones.  Authenticated CSN Chicago subscribers can watch live IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit the following link: http://www.csnchicago.com/live-faq .  

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Several IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship telecasts, which includes every Class 3A/4A semifinals/consolation/finals match-up, will air on CSN+ (available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER or IHSA.org for complete channel location details for ALL games throughout the state. 
  • CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv will also be providing fans with a live stream of every IHSA Girls Basketball State Championship post-game press conference. 
  • Fans can interact via Twitter throughout the entire weekend by utilizing the hashtag #IHSA to share their comments and showcase their school spirit for their favorite teams.   In addition, fans are urged to visit CSN’s official preps Twitter handle (@CSNPreps) for up-to-the-minute tournament news, scores, and more 24/7.

In addition, CSNChicago.com’s IHSA Preps section (csnchicago.com/preps) will feature highlight packages from all games over the next two weekends, plus – CSN viewers can look forward to a special championship editions of High School Lites on Friday, February 26 & Friday, March 4 (both nights live at 11:00 PM) for a complete rundown of every girls championship game, including expanded highlights and player/coaches interviews, along with the latest highlights and playoff scenarios for the upcoming IHSA Boys Basketball State Championships, which will take place the weekends of March 10-11 & March 17-18 at Carver Arena in Peoria, IL.  (NOTE: Full schedule details regarding CSN’s live coverage of the 2017 Boys Basketball State Championships will be announced the week of March 6.)

The following schedule details CSN’s coverage of the 2017 IHSA Girls Basketball State Championships over the next two weekends (all times Central Time) (play-by-play/color analyst/sideline reporting teams are in parentheses):

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24

11:00 AM –      Class 1A Semifinal #1: Harvest Christian Academy (Elgin) vs. Annawan (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A Semifinal #2: Unity (Mendon) vs. Calhoun (Hardin) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #1: Byron vs. Central [Coop] (Camp Point) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A Semifinal #2: St. Edward (Elgin) vs. Central Catholic (Bloomington) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25

11:00 AM –      Class 1A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

12:45 PM –      Class 1A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Lee Hall/Kelly Burke/Zach Kerker)

5:30 PM –        Class 2A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

7:15 PM –        Class 2A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Chloe Barnes/Katy Winge)

FRIDAY, MARCH 3

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #1 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: SEMIFINAL #2 (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

SATURDAY, MARCH 4

11:00 AM –      Class 3A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

12:45 PM –      Class 3A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Nate Baliva/Kristi Faulkner/Zach Kerker) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

5:30 PM –        Class 4A: CONSOLATION GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:15 PM –        Class 4A: CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (Teams TBD) (Dave Bernhard/Patricia Babcock-McGraw/Katy Winge) (NOTE: This game will air on CSN+; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)