Lyons sophomore Erin O’Brien, who scored 13 points, guards Argo senior Abby Gamboa during the Lions’ 73-46 victory. Photo by Steve Metsch

Lyons sophomore Erin O’Brien, who scored 13 points, guards Argo senior Abby Gamboa during the Lions’ 73-46 victory. Photo by Steve Metsch

Lyons too much for Argo in regional championship game

By Steve Metsch

Going into the Class 4A Proviso East Regional title game, Lyons knew it had to keep close tabs on Argo sharpshooter Apple Guerrero.

The 5-foot-10 junior is Argo’s top threat and for the second consecutive season finished runner-up in the voting for South Suburban Conference Player of the Year.

Despite the Lions’ attention on Guerrero, she still managed to pour in 25 points to lead all scorers. Unfortunately that total accounted for more than half of the Argonauts’ points in a 73-46 Lyons’ victory on Feb. 18.

“They’re a very aggressive team, (and) tall,” Guerrero said. “I had to figure out how I could get to the basket without getting blocked.”

The Lions did what they do best: Run and gun while hitting open players with passes.

Four Lyons players scored in double digits as the well-balanced Lions (27-3) proved simply too much for Argo. They led 24-12 after one quarter and never looked back.

“There’s a reason why they’re the No. 1 seed,” McCarthy said. “They’re deep, (have) some great 3-point shooters. We had a hard time on both ends.”

The Lions will play Mother McAuley at 6 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Lyons Sectional semifinals.

Argo (13-14) tried to slow down Lyons by using their “Tiger Three” offense. Players dribble from sideline to sideline, passing to each other until someone has an open shot.

Unfortunately for the Argonauts, those shots didn’t fall as often as they needed to. Lyons responded to many of the misses with rebounds and subsequent fast breaks.

“The key for us was to hang around as long as we could because this is a team that can roll it up in a hurry,” McCarthy said of the Lions.

Lyons coach Meghan Hutchens said the team’s balance “has been a strength all year.”

“They have each other’s support and their backs,” she said. “It’s fun to watch when they can all do damage.”

For most of the game, the Lions were without starting senior guard Hailey Markworth, who limped off the court with an injured ankle with 4:50 left in the first quarter. Hutchens erred on the side of caution and is hopeful Harkworth can return for the regional semifinal.

Lyons led 48-26 lead at halftime.

“Everybody on the floor can score, (that) makes it real hard to guard us,” said Lions guard Izzy Lee. “We always have people ready to step up. That’s the best part about this team.”

Lyons junior guard Ally Cesarini scored 12 of her team-high 17 points in the first half.

“We did not take [Argo] for granted at all,” Cesarini said. “You don’t know what can happen.”

Lyons sophomore guard Elin O’Brien scored 13 points with three 3-pointers. Junior guard Ella Ormsby chipped in 10.

If the Lions win Tuesday night, they will play in the sectional championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24 against either Kenwood or Whitney Young.


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46th Junior PGA Championships begin Tuesday at Cog Hill

Two of golf’s major junior championships return this week when the 46th Junior PGA Championships tee off Tuesday at Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Palos Park.

The championships run until Friday. This is the first time both the boys and girls championships are at the same venue since 2017.

Sandburg’s Jillian Cosler, of Orland Park, is among the field of 156 top female junior golfers competing for the Patty Berg Trophy. The girls division features six of the top 10 junior players according to the Rolex AJGA Rankings highlighted by No. 3 Leigh Chien, No. 5 Jasmine Koo and No. 6 Bailey Shoemaker.

In the field of 156 top male junior golfers competing for the Jack Nicklaus Trophy will be three of the top 15 junior players: No. 4 Nicholas Gross, No. 12 Byungho Lee and No. 13 Henry Guan.

Included in the two fields are 100 golfers committed to play at the collegiate level, as well as 26 Illinois natives.

The Junior PGA Championships are where the best in the world get their start. Among the previous winners are Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk, Inbee Park, Dottie Pepper, Yuka Saso, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Lexi Thompson and Tiger Woods.

The 2021 Boys Junior PGA Championship saw champion Caleb Surratt post a third-round record 62 on his way to the title. Anna Davis’ seven-shot lead earned her the 2021 Girls Junior PGA Championship. Surratt is headed to the University of Tennessee this fall. Davis, who is the No. 2 in the latest Rolex AJGA Rankings, will miss the 2022 championship to take part in the AIG Women’s British Open.

Spartans hoop to keep the good times rolling

By Randy Whalen

The recent string of success for the Oak Lawn boys basketball team is something that hasn’t been seen at the school in 50 years.

Now, with the edition of Xavier Sulaiman, who scored 38 points in an 86-85 travel team loss in mid-July, the Spartans have the potential to be even better.

“Xavier is a senior guard who can move the ball very quickly,” said Rhodes of Sulaiman, who played at Marist last season. “He can shoot the three, handle the ball and does a great job attacking the basket. He’s a good kid.”

Sulaiman made the 2022 East Suburban Catholic All-Conference Team and was named on the Honorable Mention list of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 4A All-State team.

Last season, the Spartans went 25-7 overall and captured the South Suburban Conference Red for their first conference championship since 1983.

“We’ve been gunning for that for a long time,” Rhodes said of the conference title. “It’s special to finally check that box of conference champions, since that’s been a program goal of ours since I started here (in the 2011-12 season).”

Last season’s 25 victories marked the most wins by the Spartans since the 1970-71 team finished 30-3. That squad was the state runner-up to Quinn Buckner-led Thornridge in the final season of the single-class system.

The 2022-23 Spartans will attempt reach 20-plus wins for the third time in four years. The preparation for that all starts in the summer, and Oak Lawn had an excellent summer. The Spartans won the nine-team South(West) Suburban Summer League on June 29 with a 69-67 victory over Stagg in the final.

Nine players from last year’s team graduated but there is plenty of talent coming back.

“We have a good group of guys,” Rhodes said. “Ayham Salah was all-conference last year. He’s quick and crafty and is the quarterback on the football team. Robert Wagner is a senior who placed eighth in the state (Class 3A) in the high jump.

“We are guard-heavy, but Henry Martinez is a junior who is 6-foot-6. Eduardo Chiquito is a senior forward and Corey Lee is a junior point guard who is going to be special for us.”

Last season, Oak Lawn lost to Kenwood, 55-26, in the Oak Lawn Regional title game. Kenwood won the subsequent sectional crown.

“That was just a tough matchup,” Rhodes said of playing Kenwood. “Our sectional was so tough, and to win one of those you have to be really, really good.”

With Sulaiman and other talented players in the fold, will the Spartans be good enough to win a regional this coming season? They broke through with the conference championship this past campaign and they haven’t won a regional since the 1987-88 season, a span of 35 years.

“To win a regional is the next thing we can check off,” Rhodes said. “But I no longer set those goals. I just want to go out and control what we can on the court and the rest will be a byproduct of that.

“I just want us to be the best team we can be.”

Area Sports Roundup: Costa and Busker named top athletes at Trinity; St. Rita’s Talty to kick for Tide

By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

Former Richards volleyball standout Alex Costa led the NAIA with 508 kills and 613.5 points last season.

Not a bad season for the Trinity Christian College sophomore.

It gets even better.

Last week, Costa was named TCC’s Male Athlete of the Year.

The Oak Lawn native also had top numbers with 4.70 kills per set, 71 aces and a hitting percentage of .316. In just two years, he racked up 738 kills.

Runner Alyssa Busker was named the Palos Heights school’s Female Athlete of the Year. The junior-to-be from Plainfield was an All-American in the 100 meters in the NAIA national meet in Orange Beach Alabama.

Conor Talty, an Oak Lawn resident and St. Rita senior, verbally committed to Alabama. Photo courtesy of Chris Sailer

Alabama bound

St. Rita kicker Conor Talty gave a verbal commitment to football powerhouse Alabama in July.

In a tweet, Talty, an Oak Lawn resident, thanked God and his parents.

“I couldn’t have asked for better support in this journey,” he wrote.

According to the Touchdown Alabama magazine website, the senior was contacted by the Crimson Tide in late June.

“With an Alabama degree, you can do anything you want,” Talty told the magazine. “It can set you up for life after football. I love that.

“For the football aspect, it is Alabama. It is as big as it gets.”


MVCC Academic All-Americans

The National Junior College Athletic Association named 22 student-athletes from Moraine Valley Community College to its academic All-American teams.

From the area, first team members (4.0 grade points average) were golfer Jack McDonald (Reavis), soccer player Sarah Hughes (Evergreen Park); and tennis players Ali Amer (Reavis) and Martin Gawron (Sandburg).

Second Team members (3.8-3.99 GPA) were basketball players Mary Chronopoulou (Reavis), Maggie Manthey (Sandburg), and Taanisa Muhammad (Catalyst Maria), soccer player Alyssa Froylan (Reavis), tennis players Matt Bednar (Reavis) and Lucas Skowyra (Stagg) and volleyball player Julia Stefanon (Sandburg).

Third Team members (3.6-3.7.9) were soccer player Aoife Finn (Stagg) and tennis players James Coan (Reavis), Nada Hinnawi (Richards) and Hannah Markiewicz (Mother McAuley).

The men’s tennis team earned the Academic Team of the Year award for having a cumulative 3.43 GPA. It was among 1,061 teams across the country that had a 3.0 GPA or higher for the academic year.


Esports coming to SXU

Lemar Daniels has been named the head coach of the new coed esports program for Saint Xavier University that will begin competition in the fall. for the 2022-23 season. Daniels was the esports coordinator at Lourdes University (Ohio) for the last three seasons.

While under Daniels’ leadership, the Gray Wolves won the Great Lakes Esports Conference Fall 2020 Championship in League of Legends. LU won both the GLEC Spring 2021 and Wolverine Hoosier Athletic Conference titles while playing Overwatch. In 2022, Lourdes advanced to the 2022 Overwatch Collegiate Championship Sweet 16.

He served on the National Association of Collegiate Esports Competition Council from January 2021 to July of 2022 and was named the NACE National Overwatch Coach of the Year in 2021.

“I am beyond excited to lead Saint Xavier in their first steps into the collegiate esports scene,” Daniels said in a news release. “This is a historic institution and I’m honored to be able to bring my experience to the table as the Cougars enter a new space.”

Pro Soccer Report: San Diego rookie Shaw, 17, scores lone goal in 1-0 win over Red Stars

By Jeff Vorva
Staff writer

The pregame attention went to 32-year-old Alyssa Mautz.

The postgame attention – and surely a lot more attention to come – went to 17-year-old Jaedyn Shaw.

Mautz announced that last Saturday’s game against the San Diego Wave would be her final last for the Chicago Red Stars. She has accepted an assistant coach’s position on the Texas A&M women’s soccer staff.

The Red Stars held a ceremony for Mautz before their Soldier Field showdown with the Wave.

In a match that featured some of the world’s best soccer players, it was Shaw — signed by the Wave on July 18 — who in her first NWSL game and scored the game’s only goal in the 1-0 victory over the Red Stars in front of an announced crowd of 23,951. The match was the nightcap of a doubleheader after the Chicago Fire drew 0-0 against Atlanta.

“I saw her play when she was 10-years-old,” Red Stars coach Chris Petrucelli said of Shaw. “She was like this then. She was scoring goals and playing against 12- and 13-year-old players. She was dangerous.

“I wasn’t surprised by it by any means. She’s a great talent. I’m sure she’s going to do great things.”

San Diego’s Jaedyn Shaw (right) made her NWSL debut July 30 against the Red Stars. The 17-year-old scored the game’s lone goal. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Mautz joined the Red Stars in 2012 during the club’s time in the Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite. In 2013, when the NWSL was formed, the midfielder was allocated to the Red Stars via the NWSL Supplemental Draft and proceeded to play in 18 matches, starting in eight, and scoring four goals. Since then, the St. Louis native has been a reliable presence for the club.

Mautz has played 143 regular-season matches, starting 85 while scoring 16 goals and racking up eight assists.

“It was a pretty fast decision,” Mautz said. “It came out of the blue. I wasn’t searching for anything. It was the right time, I guess. I never thought I would retire in the middle of the season. That killed me a little bit, but nothing is ever perfect.

“I definitely made the right decision, but I hate to leave my teammates. They will keep working hard and keep fighting and showing that grit out there.”

Another veteran on the Red Stars, Vanessa DiBernardo, had a hard time composing herself when she talked about Mautz’s retirement.

“She’s come back from two ACL [surgeries] and her mother passing away,” DiBernardo said. “And she still comes here and shows up. And she’s a great person outside of soccer.”

“She’s a complete pro,” Petrucelli added. “She plays with passion and intensity. I said before the game we weren’t playing for Mautz; we wanted to play like Mautz.”

Mautz will end her career as one of six players who have been rostered with the same NWSL team for all 10 seasons and one of the few players to play 100 regular-season matches with the same club.

She is among the all-time league leaders in goals with 16 in 143 regular-season matches. In 2013, Mautz scored a goal in 40 seconds against Western New York Flash, one of the fastest goals scored in league history.

“Mautz is the definition of Chicago Red Stars soccer,” said Michelle Lomnicki, the Red Stars’ associate general manager and a former teammate of Mautz. “The culture and mindset she helped create at this club is one of the reasons for its continued success. There are not enough words to describe what she means to this club and to me personally.”

The Red Stars fell to 5-3-5 and have lost two in a row. San Diego moved back into first place with a 7-3-4 mark. The Wave was a player down for 32 minutes after Abby Dahlkemper picked up her second yellow card, but the Red Stars could not score. Chicago outshot San Diego 20-9.

Before the game, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined Red Stars players during the coin flip.

The Red Stars return to SeatGeek Stadium on Sunday for a 5 p.m. battle with Gotham. The Red Stars beat Gotham on the road, 3-0, on July 2. Ella Stevens, DiBernardo and Sarah Luebbert each had goals for Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot checks out the crowd after she participated in the coin flip before the Red Stars game with San Diego Saturday at Soldier field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Help in the net

The Red Stars signed goalkeeper Kelsey Dossey to a replacement goalkeeper contract on Saturday. Dossey will fill in for Emily Boyd, who sustained an injury last week.

Dossey, from Plainfield, Indiana, played college soccer at Missouri, where she ended her career as one of the most decorated goalkeepers in Tigers’ history. Dossey had 203 saves at Mizzou, 11 career shutouts and 24 victories — both good for fourth in program history.


Fire ties unique record

The red-hot Chicago Fire opened the doubleheader with a scoreless draw against Atlanta to halt its winning streak at three games, but kept alive its unbeaten streak at four.

The Fire (7-10-6) tied a Major League Soccer record for most home shutouts in a 15-game span as they racked up 11 clean sheets.

The home fans celebrated what looked like a second-half goal from Xherdan Shaqiri, but he was ruled offside after the officials reviewed the play and the goal was taken off the board.


Third game at the Geek?

The Fire has two games scheduled for SeatGeek Stadium this season because of Soldier Field conflicts with the Bears. There are rumblings there could be a third if the Fire decides for a change in venue for its Aug. 21 game against New York.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing a concert at Soldier Field on Aug. 19 and Bad Bunny will play there on Aug. 20. Fire officials are concerned about what shape the field will be in on the 21st.


Fire II ties Rochester

The Fire II tied Rochester 1-1 Saturday on the road and earned a second point with a 5-4 penalty kick shootout in an MLS NEXT Pro game.

Missael Rodriguez came off the bench to tie the game for the Fire (4-8-5, 19 points).

Red Stars standout Mallory Pugh shows frustration after being fouled on a breakaway in a 1-0 loss to San Diego Saturday at Soldier Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Bobby Frasor steps down as coach at Brother Rice

By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

The wins.

The mosh pits.

The jokes.

These are just a few of the things that will be missed by Bobby Frasor, who stepped down last week as the basketball coach at Brother Rice and is leaving the world of hoops.

Frasor was a star player for the Crusaders who returned to his alma mater to lead the basketball program for the past seven seasons.

He has been around basketball just about all of his life. He picked up a love for the game from his father, Bob, a longtime coach at Eisenhower. After a successful career at North Carolina, Bobby coached on the college level and left basketball in 2014 to work in the business world before returning to Rice at its coach in 2015.

He was not specific on what his future plans are, but said he is leaving for a job in the corporate world.

“A couple of connections I made over the years presented an opportunity and I just had to make this move,” he said.

The Catholic League figures to be a powerhouse in 2022-23. St. Rita has stacked its roster with transfers, Leo is an elite Class 2A team and Mount Carmel is returning strong talent from last year’s squad.

Brother Rice figures to be right in the middle of that mix.

Ahmad Henderson, who played on varsity his sophomore and junior seasons, is picking up Division I interest. Junior Cale Cosme has been getting attention for his play this summer for his 3-point shooting and defense, and Jimmy Navarrete was called a “super duper college sleeper” by scout Scott Burgess.

“It would have probably been the most talented team I have coached at Brother Rice,” Frasor said. “But this is something that has been brewing inside me and what’s best long-term.”

Frasor replaced Rick Harrigan, who led the Crusaders for two years after replacing coaching legend Pat Richardson after the 2012 season. Frasor started his tenure in 2015 and within his first three seasons collected a pair of regional titles, the first for the program since 2007-2008. He also netted two Catholic League titles.

He finished his tenure with a 143-56 record and many memories.

“My favorite memories over the years will be our big wins, whether it’s beating Marist, winning a regional championship or beating a Catholic League rival,” he said. “We would have mosh-pit celebrations in the locker room and jumping up and down with the guys and celebrating. It’s hard to replicate some of that camaraderie or passion after victories.

“I’ll miss the practices and the jokes. I’ve gotten a lot of texts from former players about certain things I said that I don’t even remember what I said. They still remember it to this day. It could be a funny line. All of that stuff is probably what I’ll miss the most.”

Earlier in the year, the outgoing coach was inducted into the Chicago Catholic League Hall of Fame.

During his playing days, he spent three years on the Crusaders varsity and was named CCL Player of the Year for 2004-2005. McDonald’s and EA Sports named him to their All-American teams.

He spent his college years at North Carolina, played in two Final Fours and won the NCAA Championship in 2009.

Lyons grad Izzy Lee headed to Illini

By Randy Whalen

Izzy Lee grew into her role as a two-sport standout at Lyons.

Now she’s taking that growth to college at Illinois, where she will play goalie for the women’s soccer team.

A couple years ago, Lee experienced a growth spurt. Being taller and stronger predictably supplemented her soccer and hoops skills.

“I was about 5-foot-4 to 5-foot-5,” Lee said. “But the summer of COVID (2020) I grew over 6 inches. I’m 5-foot-11 now, so over that summer I just kept growing. My mom (Misty) was 4-foot-11 but then grew to be 5-foot-8 in college.

“Everyone was shocked when I came back. I had knee pains for a little bit, but [the size] helped a lot. As a goalie in soccer I knew the footwork before, but now I had the extra length.

“In basketball I was a guard, but by senior season I had switched to being a post player.”

COVID canceled the spring soccer season in 2020, and Lee stepped into the starting goalie role as a junior in 2021. She earned Second Team All-State honors while helping the Lions (20-1) to a runner-up finish in the Class 3A State Finals. Her season included a 15-game shutout streak, and she allowed just four goals, finished with 17 shutouts and had 103 saves.

During her senior season she allowed five goals, made 72 saves, and had 14 clean sheets as the Lions registered a 20-2 record before falling to Glenbard West (15-7-1) in a shootout (2-1, including 4-3 in the shootout) in a sectional final match.

“It was tough,” Lee said of losing the sectional title game. “We beat them in the regular season (2-1 on May 10) so we were expecting to win. But a highlight of the season was when we beat Loyola (1-0 on April 13 in the Group C Final of the Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Classic) and spending time with my teammates my senior year.”

Lyons girls basketball coach Meghan Hutchens coached Lee for three years.

“I watched her grow into an outstanding individual who excels in both academics and athletics,” Hutchens said. “As Isabella’s basketball coach, I witnessed her extraordinary drive, passion for excellence, and competitive edge in everything she does.”

Lee averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game while shooting 55.5 percent from the field last season. She was named to the Third Team of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association All-State team and also to the West Suburban All-Conference squad. She helped the Lions to a 28-4 record, their best mark since going 30-5 in 1999, before losing to Whitney Young in the sectional final.

“She is a relentless competitor with endless energy, which impacts all facets of the game,” Hutchens said. “Isabella’s intensity and commitment to winning lift the best out of her teammates, everyone plays harder when she is on the floor. Her work ethic allowed her to lead the team in two main statistical categories, points and rebounds.

Lee was twice named a tournament MVP, earned All-Conference and All-Conference Academic recognition, and was selected by teammates and coaches as a varsity captain.

Lee has been playing soccer and basketball since she was 7 or 8 years old. She doesn’t prefer one over the other, she says. But when Illinois offered her an opportunity to play goalie, the choice was easy.

“It’s great to be here,” said Lee, who was in Champaign for the first official team meeting the second weekend of July. “I’ve always had Illinois at the top of my list, so once I got an offer it was a no-brainer. Both my mom and dad (Jason) went here, and three of my cousins are here now, too.”

Did she consider doing both basketball and soccer there?

“I was thinking about it,” Lee said. “But since I’m majoring in engineering a lot of my time will be taken up with school. It’s a great school both academically and athletically, and I’m super excited for the next four years.”

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