Westinghouse basketball is back

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Westinghouse basketball is back

You remember Westinghouse. The one-time West Side candy factory was a state and national power for 30 years, from the day Mark Aguirre transferred from Austin in 1976 to the day the old school closed in 2007. Now there are signs that Westinghouse is back.

The old school on West Franklin Boulevard in Garfield Park produced such coaches as Frank Lollino, Roy Condotti, Frank Griseto, Chris Head and Quitman Dillard and sent four players to the NBA--Aguirre, Eddie Johnson, Hersey Hawkins and Kiwane Garris.

Others starred in college and went on to play professionally overseas, including Skip Dillard, Bernard Randolph, Michael Jenkins, Melvin Bradley, Larry Roby, Wayne Montgomery, Len Moffett, David Greer, Mark Miller, Damion Dantzler, Jimmy Sanders, Jamaal Brown, Jamarcus Ellis, Darius Glover, Martell Bailey and Cedrick Banks.

In those years, Westinghouse battled Marshall, Crane, Manley, Farragut, Simeon, King, Phillips, Collins, Carver and Morgan Park for supremacy in the Chicago Public League. The Warriors won a state championship in 2002, finished second in 2000 and third in 1981, 1992 and 1996.
   
Last year, after returning to the Red-West for the first time since the school was reconstituted, Westinghouse was 16-9 and lost to Marshall in the regional. With all 15 varsity players returning, fourth-year coach Garland Williams had high expectations for 2012-13.

"We expect to do well this season. We want to be in the top spot in the Red-West. We are mentally prepared to play the good teams," Williams said. "We remind our kids every day about the rich tradition of Westinghouse basketball. They see the trophies and banners in the gym. We ask alumni to come back to talk to the kids."

Westinghouse got off to a good start, beating Galesburg, East Moline and Bartonville Limestone at Thanksgiving. With games against Marshall and Whitney Young this week and Orr and North Lawndale next week, the Warriors hoped to make a statement.

On Wednesday, they won their seventh game in a row by edging Marshall 60-58 as Dewan White scored with 2.4 seconds to play. White, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored 13 of his season-high 19 points in the second half to hold off a furious rally by Marshall, which rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie at 58 with 10 seconds remaining.

On Friday, Westinghouse will try to make another statement when it challenges Whitney Young and Jahlil Okafor.

The lineup features White (14 ppg), 6-foot-1 senior point guard Ricky Battles (18 ppg), 6-foot senior Darius Mason (10 ppg), 6-foot-6 senior Darrell Gant (10 ppg) and 6-foot-1, senior Ramone Taylor (8 ppg). Battles and Mason each scored nine points against Marshall, Gant had 10 points and eight rebounds and junior guard DeQuanis Jackson scored 10.

"We don't have great size so the key to our success is to play defense, create turnovers and score points off our defense," Williams said.

A graduate of Flower Vocational, the 42-year-old Williams learned a lot about the Red-West while hanging out with his pals, Marshall coach Henry Cotton and former Westinghouse coach Chris Head. He coached at Flower before it closed, then assisted Vince Carter at Von Steuben and coached at Raby before being hired at Westinghouse.

Dewan White also knew a lot about Westinghouse and the Red-West before he enrolled. His father and mother are graduates. His father competed in football and track. His mother participated in basketball, track, volleyball and swimming. But he preferred baseball.

"My first passion was baseball. I wanted to be the next Sammy Sosa or Paul Konerko," young Dewan said. "But then I started playing basketball and saw my basketball skills were better than baseball."

As an eighth grader, he played on an AAU team coached by Proviso East's Donnie Boyce that went to the national finals. "I realized that's what I wanted to do in high school," he said.

He already knew about Westinghouse's tradition. His father took him to games as a second and third grader. He saw Chris Head's state championship team in 2002 and Quitman Dillard's 28-4 teams in 2004 and 2005. He played on Head's Illinois Hawks AAU team in the summer.

"We came up to the Red-West for the first time last year. We wanted to show we could compete," White said. "The Sun-Times picked us to finish last in the conference. We had to get used to tougher competition. It was a maturing process. We knew we could play but we had to think the game, not make crucial mistakes in the clutch.

"We have been together since freshman, since the first practice. We have a lot of chemistry. We are more mature than last year. We know what is expected of us. We know each other's games. This is a big statement for us this week, a great opportunity to see how good we are. This is what we have been waiting for since our freshman year."

White and his teammates also are looking forward to competing in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. They'll meet Downers Grove South in an opening round game on Dec. 22.

"I've been going to Proviso West with my father since third grade," White said. "Morton won when I was in eighth grade. I saw Jon Scheyer score 52 points against Proviso West. It's one of the best tournaments in the nation."

But Westinghouse has a target on its back, like the teams of yesteryear with Aguirre, Johnson, Hawkins, Garris and Banks.

"No one noticed us when we started. We were 33-1 as freshmen but nobody noticed because we were in the Metro Green Division," White said. "As sophomores, we were 18-5 and finished second in the Blue Division. People started to notice.

"We improved over the summer. We got to the final four in the summer league tournament. We lost to Curie by eight points in the semifinals. We showed we can play against the big names."

Now they still have some showing to do.

33 Days to Kickoff: Westmont

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33 Days to Kickoff: Westmont

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: Westmont

Head coach: Dan Woulfe

Assistant Coaches:  Dan McCulloch, Mitch Balek, Joe Helton, Scott Helton, Ryan Cahill

How they fared in 2016: 1-8 (0-5 Interstate 8 Small Conference), missed the 2016 IHSA state playoff field

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

August 25th @ Lake View

September 1st vs Chicago Tech Academy Charter

September 8th @ Wilmington

September 15th vs Seneca

September 22nd @ Reed-Custer

September 29th vs Peotone

October 6th @ Lisle

October 13th @ Streator

October 20th vs Plano

Biggest storyline: Can the Sentinels improve upon it's 1-8 season a year ago?

Names to watch this season:  Senior OL/DL Dustin Samoulis Senior QB Brenton Baldwin

Biggest holes to fill: The Sentinels will look to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive lines this summer. 

EDGY's Early Take: Westmont first year head coach Dan Woulfe, who takes over for Hall of Fame head coach Otto Zeman this fall will look to get the Sentinels back on the winning track. Westmont welcomes back 9 starters (4 offense 5 defense) and the biggest key will be finding new linemen to step up this fall.

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Ryan Hartman likes how he feels approaching this season, his sophomore stint with the Blackhawks. Scoring 19 goals, earning the trust of the coaches and gaining a good deal of responsibility in your rookie season will do that for you.

“It’s feeling like I should be there,” he said on Friday. “Maybe sometimes when you first get called up, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m here,’ and you’re still thinking about that. Now it’s just feeling like hockey for me and how it’s always supposed to be.”

More confidence is there for Hartman, as well as a few other young Blackhawks players who cut their teeth last year. That’s good, because those guys, having shown what they can do, will likely get more responsibility this season.

That includes Nick Schmaltz, who will either get first crack at the second-line left wing vacancy or help the Blackhawks at center, which he says is his preference “but I’m fine with wing, too.” Schmaltz struggled to start last season but following a few games in Rockford, he returned a more confident player. He played well with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on the top line and filled in for Artem Anisimov later in the season.

“I was nervous coming in. I didn’t know if it was going to work and I gained confidence game by game and felt more comfortable,” he said. “I was making the plays I’m used to making.”

When Tanner Kero was recalled right before Christmas, it was because of Anisimov’s injury. But outside of a bye-week return to Rockford Kero turned that call-up into a full-time gig, giving the Blackhawks another bottom-six center option and earning himself a two-year contract. With Marcus Kruger and Dennis Rasmussen no longer here, Kero is expected to have that third- or fourth-line center role; thanks to experience gained last season, Kero’s more comfortable now.

“It was great,” he said. “Going in, you’re not sure. It’s day-to-day to start and you just want to prove yourself and get those opportunities, get trust and more ice time. As the season went on I got more confident, trusted my game more. Going into the season I’m going in with a lot more confidence.”

John Hayden felt fairly comfortable when he joined the Blackhawks last spring thanks to his senior season at Yale – “I needed that fourth year as a player and a person,” he said. Still, getting in some NHL games, getting a feel for the pro level and gaining familiarity with the Blackhawks will benefit him in September.

“It’s important considering it’s my first training camp and I’ll know a lot of the guys, which helps a ton. From an on-ice standpoint, I have that experience,” he said. “I’ve spent a ton of time addressing areas in need of improvement all in all I’m excited for training camp.”

But Hartman and others don’t see it as weight on their shoulders.

“I don’t think there’s pressure,” Hartman said. “When you look back you want to see improvements every year, you want to see yourself becoming a better hockey player. That’s something I want to do, I want to be able to look back and say I had a good career my first year but each year I got progressively better. That’s where my mindset is at.”

There’s more opportunity for the young players but Hayden says that’s true of everyone.

“I don’t really analyze opportunity. Regardless of the team, it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “Every summer you have to have a hard-working mindset and do what you can to show up in the fall in the best shape of your life.”

The Blackhawks’ young players have all set the bar at a certain level and will be expected to improve. It takes confidence to take that next step. Thanks to experience gained last season, they’re feeling good about taking it.