Thompson rises to the occasion, leads Young

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Thompson rises to the occasion, leads Young

Friday, March 5, 2011
11:05 p.m.

By Patrick McGavin
YourSeason.com

Sam Thompson has experienced just about any play or scenario in a given game.

The Ohio State-bound senior forward has played in consecutive Class 4A state championship games.

It stands to reason with the game in the balance, Young knows precisely where to look.

Thompson converted two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining that clinched the host Dolphins 50-46 victory over No. 23 St. Ignatius in a Class 4A regional final Friday night.

The Dolphins advance to play No. 3 De La Salle Tuesday in the York Sectional.

Thompson scored a team-high 13 points to lead the No. 8 Dolphins (19-10).

We played hard, Thompson said. This was the kind of game where youre not going to hit every shot or make every play, but we played hard and we contested out there and thats what you need this time of year.

Young had enough to withstand multiple St. Ignatius comeback efforts. Wolfpack junior guard Brian Howard (eight points) drilled a three-pointer that capped an 8-0 run that narrowed Youngs 10-point lead to 36-34 with 6:17 remaining.

St. Ignatius (20-8) struggled from the floor, shooting just 17-53. Star center Nnanna Egwu scored a game-high 16 points and added 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. The array of Young big men harassed the Illinois-bound senior into 6-19 shooting from the floor, including 2-11 in the first half.

We were rushing a lot offensively and trying to score quickly and we got out of rhythm, Egwu said. Thats credit to Young, thats how they force you to play. Fortunately we locked them down defensively and thats what kept us in the game.

The Dolphins coveted depth told the story. Sophomore forward Thomas Hamilton Jr. scored six of his 10 points in the first quarter to stake the Dolphins to a 12-7 lead. My offensive play in that first quarter was unexpected, Hamilton said. I thought Id just go out, play defense and rebound.

Eight different Young players scored. Freshman center Jahlil Okafor recorded 11 rebounds, challenged Egwu on the low block and a made a key block in the fourth quarter. Junior point guard Derrick Randolph had six points and a key assist after breaking the press to Luke Hager for a dunk with 16 seconds remaining that put Young up 48-43.

Senior guard Kwai Pearson added nine points for the Dolphins.

St. Ignatius guard Jack Crepeau hit three free throws with 3.7 seconds to pull the Wolfpack within 48-46. Junior forward Marty McClure contributed nine points and senior forward Tyrone Staggers added eight points for the Wolfpack.

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: