Warren puts away pesky Lake Forest

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Warren puts away pesky Lake Forest

By Bryan Bonato
YourSeason.com

Warren cranked up the defensive intensity after a sluggish first half and eventually put away pesky Lake Forest 58-47 on Friday in a North Suburban Conference Lake Division game.The Scouts (3-5, 0-3) led 24-23 at halftime, but couldnt hold up when the host No. 9 Blue Devils (7-1, 3-1) turned up the heat.We struggled much of the game with consistency, said Warren coach Chuck Ramsey. Wed make a nice play and not capitalize, or get a steal but not turn it into scores.Warren led 38-37 with 1:02 left in the third quarter, then used an 18-5 run to put the Scouts away.We started playing better on-the-ball defense, said senior Darius Paul, who returned to the lineup after a one-game suspension. (Other team members, who were suspended for other reasons, were still not in uniform on Friday. That included sixth-man Roman Schultz.) We started pressuring their guards like coach told us.Once we stepped up the pressure, we started playing better.For the game, Paul and Mitch Munda each scored 15 points three double-figure efforts in four outings for Munda and Nathan Boothe lead with 16 points. He also had seven blocks.Lake Forest got 18 points from Thomas Durrett, while point guard John Hayes added 10. Freshman power forward Evan Boudreau had eight points and five boards.We had some lulls offensively that really hurt us tonight, said Phil LaScala, whose Scouts were expected to be a factor in the division race. We had some turnovers in the second half and that was the turning point in the game. We didnt handle their pressure.Still, LaScala saw some positives in the result.We told the kids if we play with the focus we did tonight, were going to improve, he said. Obviously, we want to win these games, but we have to get better first.Ramsey also knows his team must get better, with Chicago Public League powers Simeon and Curie in the same Pontiac Holiday Tournament with the Blue Devils.Simeon is not on our list of things to get down, Ramsey said. We still have to be solid as a team. Were not there yet. We have to take care of our business. We have to grow up. Were still not as maentally tough as we want to be.

For Joe Maddon, Cubs winning World Series came down to Giant comeback in SF and avoiding Johnny Cueto in elimination game

For Joe Maddon, Cubs winning World Series came down to Giant comeback in SF and avoiding Johnny Cueto in elimination game

Jon Lester vs. Johnny Cueto at Wrigley Field – the playoff matchup the Cubs dreaded in an elimination game – will happen more than seven months later under far different circumstances.

The Cubs have a 2016 championship banner flying next to the iconic center-field scoreboard – the ultimate response to any questions about their slow start to this season. The San Francisco Giants can’t have Madison Bumgarner saunter out of the bullpen when he’s recovering from a dirt-bike accident, another reason why an odd-year team is much closer to last place than first in an improved National League West.

The Giants don’t have the same aura, because the Cubs staged an epic comeback to end a best-of-five division series last October, scoring four runs again five different relievers in the ninth inning at AT&T Park.

“I’m telling you, man, Game 4 pretty much won the World Series,” Joe Maddon said. “I did not want to see Mr. Cueto pitching back here again. I’ll get to see him (Tuesday night), but that’s OK, compared to whatever that day would’ve been.”

Maddon has admitted this already, but it is still telling from a manager who always tries to stay in the moment and ignore the negativity. It says something about a Giant franchise that had won 10 straight postseason elimination games and World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 – and a fan base that used to expect things to go wrong in Wrigleyville after more than a century of losing.

“That whole Game 4 in San Francisco, I did focus on that a lot,” Maddon said. “Just trying to understand Game 5 back at home – how this is going to play out – and do whatever we possibly can to win that game there that night in San Francisco.

“That was the game for me – out of the entire postseason. To have to play the Giants where they were battle-tested – Game 5, back here with (Cueto) pitching – I did not like that at all. I thought that pretty much the postseason hinged on that one game in San Francisco.”

Even though the Cubs still had to survive a 21-inning scoreless streak against the Los Angeles Dodgers before winning their first NL pennant in 71 years. And come back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series and beat the Cleveland Indians on the road in a 10-inning Game 7 for the ages.

[RELATED: Cubs can't complete another miracle comeback against Giants bullpen]

“That’s what good teams do,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re a very talented club, very solid all around. You don’t win the World Series unless you are.

“Look back at our success, how many times were we looking at elimination? No, you’re never surprised in the postseason. Anything those teams do, it’s because they’re there for a reason. They’re very good.”

Lester beat Cueto in a 1-0 instant classic when Javier Baez lifted a 3-2 quick pitch into the basket beneath the video ribbon in the left-field bleachers. Cueto kept the Cubs so off-balance in Game 1 that Baez actually walked up to home plate in the eighth inning thinking bunt.

The Giants reacted to that Game 4 meltdown by giving All-Star closer Mark Melancon a four-year, $62 million contract at the winter meetings, trying to fix a bullpen that led the majors with 30 blown saves last season.

“It was close,” Bochy said. “Three outs from taking it to Game 5 with a pretty good pitcher going. We can speculate all we want. There’s no point in that. It didn’t happen.

“But, sure, you look back. That’s how tight that series was. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold on. Give them credit – great job coming back. We’re a team that plays very well under pressure, and we did there. Just couldn’t hold on to that ninth inning.”

Preview: Cubs look to bounce back vs. Giants tonight on CSN

Preview: Cubs look to bounce back vs. Giants tonight on CSN

The Cubs take on the San Francisco Giants on Saturday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and live streaming on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester (2-2, 3.57 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

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