High School Game of the Week - April 15 2014

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By Rob Valentin

GIRLS SOCCER — Nothing can slow down Trinity’s Kaitlyn Buss.

Not even two bum knees.

The junior midfielder has torn both the ACL and meniscus in each of her legs but she’s back and better than ever this spring, scoring the only goal in the Blazers’ 1-0 victory over Mother McAuley on Thursday evening in Melrose Park.

“I think she’s right back to where she was,” junior teammate Lauren McGuire said. “She really holds our center together. She’s also just a great friend and a great captain. She keeps us motivated.”

The game was scoreless for the first 62 minutes despite plenty of chances for Trinity.

Buss finally got the game’s first — and only — goal with 17:05 to play in the second half. She took a pass from Monica Gomez and went to the right upper side to get it past Mighty Macs’ goalie Erica Horn.

“I was anxious but I wanted to stay focused and calm,” Buss said about her temperament late in the scoreless game. “I didn't want to rush anything. We just needed to keep cool and play the game.”

Buss was truly the difference maker for Trinity. She was fantastic in the middle of the field, and in turn that led to more scoring chances for the Blazers.

Trinity goalie Kathryn Sugg didn’t have to do much in net but she still registered four saves to pick up her second shutout of the season. The Blazers improved to 4-2 overall with the win and are now 2-1 in conference.

“I’m really proud of my team and the way they played today,” Sugg said. “McAuley was a really big game and I think we all came together as a team and worked together. Kaitlyn Buss, who scored the goal, that was a big goal.”

Sugg had some nervous moments, especially after Trinity just couldn’t get a shot past Horn in the first half.

“When the time was going down I was getting more and more nervous,” she said. “The game was getting more physical but I think we kept up with them and played our game.”

The loss was difficult for McAuley, especially since Horn had such a fantastic game in net. She was under constant fire from Trinity’s forwards and managed to stop every shot but one.

“It’s disappointing we couldn’t get the ball out but I have a great team behind me,” Horn said. “We made an error but things happen. We’ll do better next time. We all have to work on something. We have to get better in practice and next time we see them, next year, it will be a different game.”

High School Game of the Week - April 8 2014

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OPRF gets some revenge on Fenwick

By Rob Valentin

GIRLS SOCCER — Oak Park-River Forest exacted some sweet payback on Fenwick on Wednesday as the Huskies steamrolled the Friars 4-0.

Fenwick had beaten OPRF each of the last three seasons and that was something the Huskies seniors did not forget.

“We haven’t been so successful the last couple years so everyone was hungry for revenge,” OPRF senior Tess Trinka said. “Everyone wanted to get a win today, especially the seniors.”

The Huskies were able to take control of the game from the get-go, scoring twice in the first 15 minutes.

Goals by Trinka and Tessa Saraceno allowed OPRF some breathing room. Both teams were extremely physical with each other and there was plenty of shoving throughout the match.

“We’re a pretty aggressive team to begin with but Fenwick is always a big rivalry, a fun game to play,” Trinka said. “Everyone comes out pretty pumped, ready to play.”

The Huskies continued to pour it on in the second half. Julia Weiss scored 9:46 into the second half and Meredith Blatner shut the door for good on a goal with 18:43 to play.

“It’s super exciting because we haven’t beaten them in the last three years,” Weiss said. “The seniors were super pumped winning today. It’s good to get.”

“We also play these girls in travel and even in travel it’s a big rivalry,” added Fenwick senior Caroline Murphy. “We’ve beaten them three years in a row. It kind of stinks to go out with a loss.”

OPRF (2-1-2) not only got revenge, but they dominated Fenwick (6-2), a team that had not given up a goal in its first seven games.

“We’ve been playing on the ground a lot lately and it really came through in this game,” Weiss said. “In our other games we’ve been in the air too much. We played at our full potential in this game.”

For Fenwick, the hope is that this loss was just a bump in the road. The Friars were without three of their top players, who were sidelined due to injury.

“It was a hard game,” Murphy said. “We had some girls out, banged up from the previous week. We haven’t faced a (regulation) loss yet this year so it’s a learning game for us. We have to learn how to come back after we get down.

High School Game of the Week - March 31 2014

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Naperville Central topples OPRF for tourney title

By Rob Valentin @chicagolandprep

Naperville Central didn’t play its best volleyball in the first game of the Hoffman Estates title match against Oak Park-River Forest on Saturday.

The Redhawks dropped the first set to the Huskies, but quickly turned things around en route to a 22-25, 25-10, 25-11 victory to earn the tournament championship.

“We kind of strayed away from our ball control and made a lot of errors in the first game,” said Naperville Central junior outside hitter Jack Burton. “But the team reacted well right away and we turned it around and took care of business. We were able to play the ball off the serve better, could kick it out to wherever we wanted and got kills from all different hitting locations.”

Game 1 was very close early on. The two teams were tied at 9-9 and 13-13 before OPRF (3-2) finally took control. The Huskies would build a 24-19 lead but Naperville Central (6-0) rallied to pull within two points before a side-out gave the Huskies the win.

Game 2 would be a very different story. The tide quickly changed as the Redhawks jumped out to a 7-1 advantage, thanks to six consecutive service points from Michael Timmerberg. The fast start gave Naperville Central all the momentum and it would carry over to the final game.

Game 3 was all tied up at 5-5 but Naperville Central took complete control, scoring 20 of the next 26 points.

Burton was dominant in the match, recording 21 kills for the Redhawks. Jon Chiczewski added six kills for Naperville Central while setter Dan Trembacki had 30 assists.
OPRF was led by Andrew Wierdak (6 kills) as well as David Hancock and Owen Sorensen (3 kills apiece).

“They’re good and their speed of their team, their quick sets and their athleticism was just faster than our defense,” Huskies coach Don August said. “We knew they were a good team. We played really tough in the first game of the finals. Unfortunately, they picked their game up a level and we didn’t respond.”

Naperville Central will try to remain perfect when it travels to Lake Park today. The Huskies, meanwhile, travel to Glenbard West today.

High School Game of the Week - March 25 2014

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Northside, Brooks claim city track titles

By Rob Valentin

BOYS TRACK AND FIELD — Northside College Prep was crowned Kings of the City on Sunday as the Mustangs captured the Chicago Public Schools Indoor A Championship.

Northside finished with a total of 67 points to outscore Whitney Young (2nd, 61), Dunbar (3rd, 52) and nine other city teams.

There were several winners for the Mustangs but the two biggest came in the 800 and the 1,600-meter runs.

Sophomore Danny Rosen broke the school record in the indoor mile with an impressive time of 4:33.37 to beat out several seniors, including Young’s Michael Perez (4:36.9) and Mather’s Zade Kudich (2nd 4:46.45).

“I knew that the guy from Whitney was seeded at 4:35 and I talked to him before the race and he said he was going to try and hit 4:35,” said Rosen, who had a seed time of 4:40. “Michael Perez went out in 68 and I wanted to stick him the whole way. I stuck him the whole way and the last 400 was an all-out sprint for me.”

The most exciting race of the day was the 800-meter dash that Northside’s Malcolm Grba won by an eyelash. Grba’s time of 2:01.79 was just good enough to bring home first place as he edged out Mather’s Deivi Tahiraj by one-hundreth of a second.

“It’s always awesome to get the win,” Grba said. “I came in trying to qualify for indoor state. I would have had to break two (minutes) so I’m a little disappointed on the day. I tried a different strategy, which was go out in 56. It didn’t work quite as I wanted but I’m still glad I tried it out.”

Northside also captured city titles in the 1,600 relay with Rosen, Simon Kafka, Grba and Tom Frejowski (3:38.79) and the 3,200 relay with Rosen, Matthew Gomez, Kafka and Max McCoy (8:51.4).

Young’s Sam Wischnewsky had a fantastic race in the 3,200 to bring home first in a time of 9:54.05.

“I figured that I would try and go out in the back of the chase pack and try to roll up on [Mather’s Zade Kudich] in that second mile,” Wischnewsky said. “I knew that he would fall apart in that second mile after he went so hard.”


Brooks easily took the title on the girls side, scoring 85 points to blow past Westinghouse (2nd, 55) and Northside (3rd, 47.5).

The Eagles completely dominated the short and long distance events. Sariaya Phillips took home victories in the 55 hurdles (9.17) and the 800 (2:40), a very unique double.

“I’m trying to run the heptathlon in college,” Phillips said. “I just started running [the 55 hurdles] this year so I’m fairly new at it. But I’ve been practicing it every day and the technique got better. I just put my all in to it and ran my heart out.”

Teammate Ebony McClendon captured title in three events, 55 (6.98), 200 (25.8) and 400 (1:01).

North Lawndale had two winners on Sunday. Nida Miller took first in high jump (5-2) while Briyahna Derosiers won long jump (17-3).

Northside’s Madison Weatherly went home with a pair of city championships.

Weatherly cruised to first place in the 1,600 with a time of 5:25.4, easily outdistancing Mather’s Yarely Robledo (5:44.6).

“I just really wanted to push myself and I knew it was a good track and I felt good,” Weatherly said. “I was trying to go really fast, under 2:40 for my 800 split and I think I did that. I’m really excited because I dropped a ton of time off my PR.”

Weatherly was also part of the 3,200 relay team that took first place with a time of 10:24.64. Also on the relay were Elizabeth O’Conor, Caroline Owens and Sarah Parks.

High School Game of the Week - March 17 2014

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Loyola grabs first sectional crown since 2006 with win over Maine South

By Rob Valentin

BOYS BASKETBALL — Loyola’s James Clarke, Jack Morrissey and Kevin Kucera have been playing together on varsity since their sophomore season at the Wilmette school.

On Friday night, everything came together for the three seniors as they helped propel the Ramblers to a 42-37 victory over Maine South to win the Maine South Sectional title. It was Loyola’s first sectional crown since 2006.

“It’s a big win, playing a great team like Maine South, in their gym,” said Morrissey, who had a game-high 17 points. “We had a great game plan going. Our coaching staff really preached to us and we played together.”

A packed gym saw Loyola come out of the gate on fire. Morrissey knocked down a pair of three-pointers and before you knew it, the Ramblers had a 13-2 lead late in the first quarter.

“It’s a different type of defense really,” Morrissey said. “They pack it in a little more in the paint and make us dish it out. We tried to move the ball as fast as we could and dish it out.”

Maine South was down 13-4 after the first quarter but the Hawks scored the first six points of the second quarter, all coming from close-in shots by 6-foot-7 junior George Sargeant.

Loyola led 22-18 at halftime and 34-26 heading into the final quarter of play. Kucera knocked down a three-pointer to start the fourth to give the Ramblers an 11-point lead.

With such a big lead, Loyola went into a stall offense. The Ramblers wouldn’t score a field goal the rest of the game and the tactic nearly came back to bite them as Maine South roared back.

Sargeant had a monster fourth quarter, scoring seven of his game-high 17 points in the final quarter. His three-point play with 1:33 left cut the deficit to 39-37. Clarke (11 points) would be fouled with 34.4 seconds to play and converted both tries.

Maine South failed to score on the ensuing possession and Clarke was fouled again with just 13.6 seconds remaining. He hit the first and missed the second. The Hawks would not score again.

“As a senior, I knew I had to step up and make those,” Clarke said. “When the first one went in, it gave me a little relief and calmed me down a little bit and the other ones went in too.”

Loyola improved to 25-5 on the season while Maine South finished its season with a record of 25-7.

“They’re just a really good team,” Sargeant said. “They hit their first four three’s coming out the gate and they got a really hot start. They have some of the best shooters in Illinois so we knew that’s what they wanted to do.”

The Ramblers advance to face Whitney Young at the Chicago State Super-Sectional on Tuesday night. The Dolphins are ranked No.1 by the Chicago Sun-Times and feature 6-foot-10 Duke bound Jahlil Okafor.

“As a team, we need to close the game out better,” Clarke said. “We let them come back in the game. And just the little things, loose balls and everything that counts, rebounds. The offense will come. We just need to get stops on defense.”

High School Game of the Week - March 10 2014

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Lake Park stuns OPRF in regional semis

By Rob Valentin

BOYS BASKETBALL — Lake Park came into last Tuesday’s Class 4A Leyden Regional semifinals as a heavy underdog.

The Lancers were the No. 14 seed in the Bartlett Sectional and they were squaring off with No. 3-seeded Oak Park-River Forest, which came into the playoffs winners of six straight.

That number wouldn’t get to seven as Lake Park pulled off a stunning 51-48 upset of the Huskies.

“This is our first big win [this season] but we’ve been in those kind of close games before,” said Lancers’ senior Sean Moore, who led his team with 12 points. “I thought we were well prepared for a close game tonight and it was all about believing.”

It was a game that OPRF (20-7) should have put away much earlier. Lake Park (16-15) was down by 10 points at halftime and was the beneficiary of some very poor free-throw shooting by the Huskies.

The Lancers competed early and actually held a 20-19 lead with 4:40 to play in the second quarter after a field goal by Melvin Kimbrough. However, a three-pointer by OPRF’s Erick Locke (20 points) started an 11-0 run for the Huskies as they took a 30-20 lead into halftime.

Lake Park chipped away and by the end of the third quarter it had pulled within 34-31 as OPRF went 2-for-8 from the floor in the quarter. Huskies’ coach Matt Maloney knew the third quarter was an opportunity wasted.

“I thought really the turning point was in the first three minutes of the second half where we were up 10 and allowed them to get some easy ones right away,” Maloney said. “Then we really tightened up.”

The Lancers were down 43-42 when Cameron Van Aswegen buried a three-pointer with 1:34 to play. Lake Park would never trail after that.

“All we did was set up one of our plays,” Van Aswegen said. “We kept swinging the ball and cutting through. They got me the ball and I made a three-pointer.”

OPRF pulled within 48-47 after two free throws by Locke with 33.1 seconds left. Locke got a quick steal and was fouled with 27.9 ticks to play but he missed both attempts.

Moore was quickly fouled and knocked down two tries to push the lead to 50-47 with 23.2 to play. Locke was fouled again but once again missed both tries. Luckily, Jawaan Jackson grabbed the rebound for the Huskies and was fouled going back up. He split his two tries to pull OPRF within 50-48 with just 12 seconds left.

Another quick foul sent Lake Park’s Stefan Meccia to the line with 10.9 seconds to play. He made just one of two giving OPRF a chance, down 51-48.

The Huskies got the ball down court and Locke shot a three-pointer. Inexplicably, he was fouled by a Lake Park defender. Locke, who has been clutch from the line all season, continued to struggle missing his first two attempts with 4.9 seconds remaining. Needing the ball back, he missed the third free throw on purpose but a lane violation was called on him.

Meccia was fouled with 4.5 seconds to play and he didn’t have any better luck at the line, missing two tries. That gave OPRF one final chance but Dallis Flowers’ last second three-pointer wasn’t close and Lake Park scored the upset win.

“It feels unreal because they were ranked No. 3 in the sectional,” Van Aswegen said. “We just beat them off of that so it was pretty cool.”

The two teams combined to shoot 4-for-14 from the free-throw line in the final 30 seconds. Lake Park’s Cinderella story would come to an end Friday night with a 48-44 loss to Glenbard North.