High School Lites Preview: Championship weekend

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High School Lites Preview: Championship weekend

739 Illinois high school boys basketball teams had dreams of playing in Peoria in March. Only four of them get the right to call themselves state champs. Two schools have already been crowned. Two more will take home first place trophies on Saturday night. Who will get the honor? Will Hillcrest win their second title in three years? Can Simeon win their third state championship in a row? Will Proviso East finish off an undefeated season?

High School Lites will air on Comcast SportsNet Chicago on Saturday at 10:30 p.m. this week and will feature highlights from the 3A & 4A championship and third place games.

The following capsules will be for Fridays semifinal games, which can be seen on NBC Chicago Nonstop (Digital Channel 5.2, Comcast 341, RCN 50, WOW 130 and AT&T U-Verse 1742). Rankings reflect the CSN Top 20, sponsored by the Marines:

No. 7 North Chicago (24-6) vs. Springfield-Lanphier (28-3), 3A State Semifinal, 12:00 p.m.

The North Chicago Warhawks, who are making their second consecutive trip to Peoria, are putting up point totals that would make some college programs blush. N-C is averaging close to 80 points per game in the postseason. They put 91 on the board versus Marshall on Tuesday, 32 of which came from Illinois-state bound Aaron Simpson. The 5-10 senior guard can score from anywhere on the floor and is especially deadly from behind the arc. The key for Lanphier will be containing Simpson. Everett Clemons, who is the son of former Illinois guard Rennie Clemons, is their go-to guy, racking up close to 20 points per game. Larry Austin Jr. is also a threat. He is coming off a 24-point performance which helped his Lions defeat East St. Louis in the supersectional.

No. 5 Hillcrest (26-5) vs. Peoria (26-3), 3A State Semifinal, 2:00 p.m.

If Hillcrest is to advance to the state championship this weekend, they will have to focus on closing out the opposition. The Hawks, who are looking for their second state title in three years, let a 21 point lead slip away against DuSable in Tuesday's supersectional. But the Hawks survived, winning 47-44. Hillcrest does have balance and a few scorers who can create instant offense, namely Jayone Troutman, Jovan Mooring and Jalen Loving. But they could face matchup problems with Peoria High School. Four of their regular contributors are monsters. Seniors Shamar Hill (6-6), Trey Kellum (6-7), Kevin Jordan (6-10) and 6-5 junior Josh Augusta can overwhelm opponents. Kellum had 14 points and eight rebounds in the Lions' 77-59 supersectional victory over Rockford East on Tuesday.

No. 2 Proviso East (31-0) vs. Rockford-Auburn (31-2), 4A State Semifinal, 6:30 p.m.

Aside from a slim three-point victory over Glenbard North in the regional final, all of Proviso East's playoff victories have been by double-digit margins, including Tuesday's 62-51 triumph over West Aurora. Is Proviso East just that good or have they not been thoroughly tested yet? Whatever the case, they're going to face a major challenge against Rockford-Auburn. The Knights feature one of the top point guards in the state, Wichita State-bound Fred Van Vleet. He scored a game-high 27 points in Auburn's 49-43 supersectional win over Warren. That said, Proviso East is one of the deepest teams in the state and already own a victory over Auburn at the Proviso West Holiday tournament. First-year head coach Donnie Boyce, St. Louis-bound Keith Carter, Sterling Brown, Paris Burns, Paris Lee and Trashaun Carroll have had a dream season thus far. Carroll, though, will miss Fridays semifinal due to an ejection during the supersectional.

No. 1 Simeon (31-1) vs. No. 4 Bloom (28-3), 4A State Semifinal, 8:15 p.m.

A lot has been said about Simeon's offensive weapons this season --namely phenom Jabari Parker, who had another double-double to help his team take down Evanston in Tuesday's supersectional-- but their defense has been the proverbial x-factor in the playoffs. They held an upstart Evanston team to only 34 points in that victory and have defeated their playoff opponents by an average of 23 points. Their semifinal opponent, Bloom, has a lot of similar characteristics. They have scoring power with Donald Moore, but they also can put the clamps on the opposition. Blazing Trojans head coach Jasper Williams has said that this year's team has the best defense he's seen in his two decades-plus of coaching. But will it be enough to take down nationally-ranked Simeon?

High School Lites will also feature highlights from Saturdays semifinals of The Illinois State High School Hockey Championship, presented by Hinckley Springs." The boys championship will air on Comcast SportsNet at 6:30 p.m. on Friday March 23rd.

This week, we head to Glen Ellyn to feature our Muscle Milk Team of the Week, Chicagos Wheelchair Warriors state champion basketball team. The Warriors just won their fourth consecutive state championshippart of seven overall. Plus, well take a drive down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment, and well have in-depth coverage of the Simeon Wolverines, who will be featured in our Drive segment, sponsored by Greater Than. This week's segment will feature behind-the-scenes footage of their sectional win against Marist, and their supersectional victory over Evanston.

High School Lites streams live on CSNhicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: csnchicagowebsite@comcastsportsnet.com

Richard Lagow sets Hoosiers' passing record, also throws five picks in loss to Wake Forest

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Richard Lagow sets Hoosiers' passing record, also throws five picks in loss to Wake Forest

It was a day of highs and lows for Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow.

The explosiveness that was ever-present under Lagow's predecessor, Nate Sudfeld, came back in a big way Saturday, with Lagow throwing for a school-record 496 yards. But he also pitched a dreadful five interceptions in the Hoosiers' 33-28 loss to the visiting Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Bloomington.

Lagow's huge yardage total was accompanied by three touchdown tosses as the Hoosiers' broke the 600-yard mark on offense, finishing with 611 total yards. But those five interceptions compared to zero turnovers by the Deacons, who had a huge edge in time of possession, meant no positive result for the Hoosiers.

Indiana scored on the first play of the game, Lagow hitting Nick Westbrook for a 75-yard touchdown immediately after the opening kickoff. But Lagow threw an interception on the Hoosiers' next possession, which led to a Wake touchdown. In the second quarter, Lagow's second interception was returned for a touchdown, and he threw another on the ensuing possession, though that one didn't result in any Wake points. Indiana also missed a field goal in the second quarter, with Wake scoring on the next drive to make it 21-7 at the break.

Lagow's fourth interception turned into a Demon Deacons touchdown, but he hit Westbrook for their second scoring connection of the day to make it 24-14. Wake added a field goal before the teams traded touchdowns straddling the third and fourth quarters. Lagow threw one more interception and one more touchdown pass (that one a 49-yard strike to Donavan Hale in the final seconds), but the Hoosiers couldn't complete a comeback, running out of time.

Wake mustered just 352 total yards, but Lagow's trouble keeping the ball out of the Deacons' hands gave Wake a significant boost.

The loss was Indiana's first of the season, dropping its record to 2-1. The Hoosiers face off against Michigan State next weekend.

Michigan dominates on both sides of the ball in runaway win over Penn State

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Michigan dominates on both sides of the ball in runaway win over Penn State

Wisconsin might have scored Saturday's most impressive win, but Michigan made a statement of its own, setting up another colossal conference clash next weekend in Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines welcomed in the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday, albeit rudely, dominating on both sides of the ball in a blowout 49-10 win.

This one was over from the very start, Michigan clamping down on defense and putting on an offensive clinic with short fields.

Wilton Speight led touchdown drives on each of the Wolverines' first three offensive possessions, the first set up thanks to an eye-popping Jabrill Peppers punt return. Khalid Hill finished that one off with a short touchdown run, and after the Lions turned it over on downs, De'Veon Smith punched it in for a score. Speight made it 3-for-3 with a touchdown toss to Devin Asiasi for a seemingly insurmountable 21-0 lead in the second quarter.

Michigan kept their early punt-less streak intact by turning it over on downs on its next offensive possession but followed that up with a touchdown on the next, Karan Higdon rushing in for the score to make it 28-0 before halftime.

Penn State punted five times in the first half, turning it over on downs on another drive for an 0-for-6 mark over the first 30 minutes as the Michigan defense dominated. The Lions finally got on the board with a third-quarter field goal and added a touchdown in the fourth to send their point total into double digits. But the Wolverines added another three touchdowns of their own in the second half, Chris Evans rushing in for a score, Higdon getting his second touchdown scamper of the day, the second from 40 yards out, and Ty Isaac getting the final points of the game.

The Michigan defense had a monster day, holding Penn State to just 191 total yards, including only 70 on the ground and 2.5 yards per carry, and came away with a pair of takeaways.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines racked up 515 yards of offense, including 326 yards rushing. Five different players scored a rushing touchdown, with Higdon scoring two. Smith finished with 107 yards rushing, Higdon had 81 yards and Isaac had 74. Speight had a fine day, too, completing 21 of his 33 passing attempts for 189 yards and a touchdown.

The win sent Michigan to 4-0 on the season, and the Wolverines have that huge matchup with the Badgers next weekend.

Penn State, meanwhile, fell to 2-2 with the defeat and faces Minnesota next weekend.