Dunbar Cruises After Lane Tech Grabs Early Lead

Dunbar (4-3) visited Lane Tech (2-4) in Chicago Public League action on Friday, in what started off as a stalemate after the first quarter. Both teams were trying to figure each other out when Lane Tech scored in the second quarter on a run by running back Victor Gonzalez. Dunbar matched the Gonzalez TD with a score of their own and a 2-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead. After a 3-and-out by the Indians… Dunbar coughed the ball up on a 4th down punt to give the Indians great field position late in the 2nd quarter. Lane Tech would eventually score on a QB keeper down near the goal line by Indians QB Jack McLaughlin to take a 14-8 lead. After that score, the Dunbar defense stepped it up after making several encroachment penalties… and held the Indians scoreless the rest of the way, as their offense got red hot.

Dunbar QB Darvell Harris, WR/DB Jayton Dorsey and WR/DB Travon Harris put on a 3-man wrecking crew the rest of the way. Connecting on several long passes and even a defensive fumble recovery for a touchdown was all that the Lane Tech Indians could handle, as the score got out of hand in a hurry. After the 3rd quarter ended with a 36-14 lead, the Mighty Men of Dunbar added 20 more points in the 4th quarter which saw an acrobatic one-handed grab for a touchdown by senior Travon Harris to put an exclamation point on the victory. The final was 56-14. Photos taken by Jason Davis of the Welles Park Bulldog.



By John Montgomery
Harlan(25-7) shattered Simeon’s dreams of winning the Public League baseball title for the seventh time in school history with a 7-6 win on Monday at US Cellular Field.
“I am very disappointed,” stated Simeon head coach Leroy Franklin who won his 700th high school contest with a semifinal victory over Von Steuben at UIC. “We could have won the game. It’s ashame. We should have won the game. It comes down to the simple fact they wanted it more than us.”
Simeon(25-4) was beaten by Harlan for the second time this season. The Wolverines also fell to Brooks and St Rita.
Harlan won the title despite letting a 6-2 lead slip away.
“Every time we get together it’s a big game,” Harlan head coach Ken Fullman said after the victory. “There is no underdog or top dog when we playing each other. We are twelve blocks away from each other. Most of the kids play on the same little league team, It’s big for the schools because everybody can’t go to the same school. We are the two schools in our community that the kids choose to go (to for high school). It’s a big rivalry.”
The players on both squads have played with and against each other since their days in the Jackie Robinson Little League program on the South side. A win over your rival always seems sweeter. Just ask the Green Bay Packers who beat the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship at Soldier Field enroute to winning the Super Bowl against the Steelers.
The Falcons scored the eventual game-winning run in the top of seventh inning on a bases loaded walk by Harlan’s Canance King.
The seventh inning was filled with drama in both final at-bats. After Harlan went ahead, Simeon ended the game with two runners in scoring position. Jabari Roberts sealed the city title by striking out Robert Fletcher.
Another key play occurred when Harlan caught Rhakeem Thomas in a rundown after a grounder back to the pitcher.
“Harlan has some good players,” added Franklin after the loss. “You just can’t make mistakes.”
This game wasn’t excatly a pitchers’ duel as both teams combined for 13 runs and 19 hits. Harlan had ten hits while Simeon had nine hits in a losing cause.
King also made two nice catches in outfield in the sixth inning.
Simeon’s Blake Hickman, who is considered to be the top player in the Public League this season, went 0-for-4.
The Falcons jumped out toa 6-2 lead by scoring five runs in the third inning off starter Darius Day.
The Wolverines tallied to tie the game by scoring four runs in the bottom of the third inning. The biggest play was an error by Harlan’s Kyle Johnson that allowed the tying run to score.
Simeon’s Elbert Dunnigan took over for Day and allowed two runs on six hits while Harlan took advantage of six walks.
Harlan’s Jabari Roberts was the winner after allowing nine hits and six runs.
“After we lost the first game(to Simeon), we came back and won the second game.,” Fullman said on the two regular season matchups with Simeon. In their minds, they knew they could lose to us. In our minds, we knew we could beat them. That second win was big for us(in terms of confidence).”
Now, after this emotional game it’s on to the state playoffs for both teams.
Lane(22-13) won the softball title last Friday at UIC with a 5-0 win over section rival Taft(16-16). Junior Kaleigh Ambrose led the Indians to their fifth straight Public League championship by tossing a two-hitter against Taft.

Simeon looks like the team to beat in 2012

The biggest question after the basketball season is how many titles will Simeon star Jabari Parker win in four years with the Wolverines.

Simeon (30-2) bounced from back-to-back losses to Young (20-11) and Benet (29-1) to win back-to-back state basketball championships.

Parker, who is only a sophomore, has emerged as one of the top players in the country. Parker raised his scoring average from nine points a game to 15 points per contest this past season. Parker scored 12 points as Simeon beat Warren (31-4) 48-39 for the Class 4A championship.

“He’s the best player in Illinois,” Simeon head coach Robert Smith said after winning the school’s fifth state title.

Speaking of legacy, Smith is building an impressive resume that could lead to a college coaching job. Smith, who played at Simeon under Bob Hambric, has now won four state titles in seven seasons while winning 197 games.

Simeon figures to be the preseason favorite next year with nine players including Parker returning for a run at a three-peat.

The best thing that Smith does is to get his team to play disciplined and under control on offense while playing solid team defense.

My choice for Player-of-the Year in the Chicago area is East Aurora guard Ryan Boatright, who will attend Connecticut. Boatright led the Tomcats to a 24-6 mark averaging 31 points per game before losing to Glenbard East (28-4) in the East Aurora sectional championship.

Glenbard East coach Scott Miller is my choice for Coach-of-the-Year. The Rams beat East Aurora in the sectional championship as Miller guided the school to a third place finish in Class 4A. Most high school teams don’t recover from emotional wins. Just ask Young and East Aurora who lost its next game after a huge upset.

Gordon’s Dave Andrews is a player to watch next season, but my choice for best player in our area is St. Benedict’s Krys Gago.

St. Ben's Gago, earlier this year against Crane. Photo credit: Jack Lydon

Gago is solid on and off the court with a 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of 22. Gago would score even with opposing teams knew he was going to shoot the basketball for the Bengals. Gago will play at the college level in 2012.

My choice for Coach-of-the-Year in this area is Mather’s Glen Heffernan. Heffernan brought new life into the Rangers’ basketball program the past two seasons.

Basketball in this area was down besides Mather as none of the neighborhood teams advanced past the first week of the state playoffs. Gordon and St. Benedict lost regional championship games while Mather lost to Simeon in the Public League quarterfinals before losing to Glenbrook North in the state playoffs.

Gordon appears to have the brightest future for next season with four starters returning including Andrews who was named All-Catholic League.

The game of the year in my mind was Bolingbrook’s(28-2) 50-49 overtime win over Public League champ Young in the Girls’ Class 4A semifinals. Not only was it the best game I saw this past season, but the state playoff game is one of the best I have ever seen in 33 years of covering hoops in Illinois.

My fab five from this past season are Boatright, Parker, Morgan Park’s Wayne Blackshear, Rock Island guard Chasson Randle, and Perspectives star Anthony Davis who will play at Kentucky.

Keep an eye next season on Mundelein’s Robert Knar who will be a junior.

Finally, I believe the Public League made a mistake giving up its automatic bid in all sports. The only sport that city teams do well in basketball. The Public League can compete in basketball so they only should have dropped the automatic bid for hoops.

It’s highly unlikely that city athletes in baseball, volleyball, softball, and soccer will advance downstate on a regular basis. City teams have had isolated success in a soccer, volleyball, and wrestling. In most cases, teams in those various sports don’t advance past the first week or first  game of the state playoffs.

In football, only one city team has advanced to the state championship game. Just a thought.


Unique Eye: Simeon Wolverines advance to finals.

For a link to the game write up please click  below:




Unique Eye- Photos for Simeon Wolverines-v- Warren Blue Devils

Saturday Peoria’s Carver arena rocked and rolled with the sound of Illinois high school basketball. Friday’s brackets had lead to the final match ups and it was time to decide champions.    This years Gold Medal round featured Simeon of the Chicago Public League and Warren of Gurnee, here are the photos of the game.


Brooks wins 3rd place game

Peoria, IL— The basketball team at Brooks was hoping to finish the season by winning the city and state championship. The Eagles (29-4) concluded the season by taking third place in the Class 3A tournament with a 66-52 win over North Chicago on Saturday afternoon at Carver Arena.

“I don’t have the words to describe what we have done and how I feel about these guys,” said first year Brooks head coach Bobby Locke. “To win the city in Chicago is huge. To get down here after winning city is a huge accomplishment.”

“We all came in together as freshman with one common goal and that was to win a state championship,” four-year starter George Marshall said after the win. “Unfortunately, we came up short. We came up short on one goal (of winning state) and accomplished the other one (of winning the Public League).”

Marshall ended his career by scoring 19 points while senior Mike Powell led the Eagles with 20 points as Brooks made 24-of-59 shots after scoring only 13 baskets on Friday.

What a difference a day made for Brooks. The Eagles missed their first eight shots in the semifinal loss to eventual state champion Rock Island (30-3).

“The ball went into the hole,” Locke said on his team’s offense that averaged 72 points per game. “I think it went into the hole today because we were relaxed.”

Saturday was a different story with a better ending. Brooks began the third place game by scoring on its opening possession as senior Powell started the day with a jump shot. The Eagles led 15-14 after the opening quarter and 33-28 before pulling away in the second half.

Powell scored eight points in the fourth quarter as Brooks outscored the Warhawks 11-4 to build a 13-point lead with 2:37 left.

“The only thing I’ve really got to say is I am very proud of them,” said North Chicago head coach Gerald Coleman. “They created history for our school. I really have no comment on the game.”

Aaron Simpson, who will attend Marquette, led North Chicago with 20 points.

North Chicago was also making its first appearance ever downstate.

The question now is where can Locke take Brooks in the future? Can he build the school into a city contender on a regular basis. It’s not easy to compete against Simeon, Young, Marshall, Farragut, and Curie.

Some city schools reload with talent while others rebuild. Locke loses nine players and that is the bad news. The good news is Brooks has been solid the last four years so they might be able to attract potential basketball players who are good student athletes.

Can the Eagles soar in the future? For now, they are the defending Public League basketball champions.

Brooks loses in state semifinal

Kevin Gray (brother of Keith Gray in story) defends against Rock Island in IHSA semi-final play Friday.

The Chicago Public League champions fell behind 12-1 and never recovered as the Eagles shot only 13-of-50 for the game in the school’s first visit ever to the state finals.

In a nutshell, obviously the first quarter killed us,”admitted Brooks first-year head coach Bobby Locke. “We couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Defensively we made some mistakes here and there. Scoring wise we didn’t give up a lot of points.”

I think it starts with our defensive effort,”Rock Island head coach Thom Sigel said after the win that put his team in the championship game for the first time since 1910. “I’m sure their guys feel like they missed some looks that they make most of the year, and I’m sure that’s probably true. I think we had a lot to do with that.”

Rock Island will try to win the school’s first state basketball championship against Centralia (30-4) on Saturday afternoon.

Brooks will now play for third place against North Chicago.

Keith Gray led Brooks with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Denzel McCauley led Rock Island with 14 points while Chasson Randle who will attend Stanford added 12 points as the winners made 21-of-47 shots.

Rock Island advanced to the title game with a dominating effort on defense. The Rocks held George Marshall, who is considered one of the state’s best players, to only one three-point basket at the end of the game. Marshall has been a star for four years and was averaging 17 points per game after leading the Eagles to the Public League championship. Marshall will attend Wisconsin and play for Bo Ryan next season.

Marshall finished with five points and missed 11-of-12 shots. Marshall had 24 points to lead Brooks past Young(20-11) in the city title game at Chicago State.

Marshall told reporters after the loss that he just couldn’t make any shots. He missed 11 straight attempts before ending the contest with a three-pointer.

I’ve had off games– but as far as the entire game– not like that (where I was missing every shot),” said Marshall who played in just 15 games due to injuries.

Sometimes you have to give the other team some credit. Rock Island played solid man-to-man team defense as the Eagles were 3-of-21 in the first half and trailed 23-11 at halftime.

Brooks played better in the second half, but they couldn’t overcome that poor start.

Brooks players face the press after losing the match. "We just didn't shoot well," Bobby Locke (in white shirt) told the press.


We just didn’t shoot well,” Locke said. “For whatever reason, the ball just wouldn’t go in the hole for us and it had an effect on how we played defensively. We had a lot of open looks.”

Now, Locke has less than 24 hours to prepare for the third place game.

It’s obviously difficult when you have a bunch of seniors,” said Locke who played for third place while coaching at Evanston. “I’ve been in this situation before. The only positive thing is I’ve had the experience of coaching in the third place game.”

I’m proud of what these guys have done,” Locke said. “Nobody in their wildest dreams could say other than us that we could get to state. No one else said that.”

The key for the Eagles is where will they go after being one of the best teams in the Public League the last four years with Marshall.

Another team with great basketball tradition is Centralia. The Orphans are seeking their fourth state basketball title and the school’s first championship since 1942 after beating North Chicago (17-14) 59-55 as RJ Kwiatkowski scored 23 points.

Here is the link to the gallery of images for the game.