St. Rita junior James Brown opened the year verbally committing to North Carolina. Photo by Jeff Vorva

St. Rita junior James Brown opened the year verbally committing to North Carolina. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Local Hoops Wrap: Scuffling St. Rita eyes big March

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

They have never had a nickname, such as the Fab Four.

But that title could have applied.

The foursome of James Brown, Morez Johnson, Josh Pickett and Jaedin Reyna came to St. Rita High with high expectations, with all four receiving scholarship offers from Northern Illinois before playing a single high school game.

In an environment where transfers are rampant at the high school level, some people believed it was a long shot the four players would graduate together; but it was a pretty good bet they were going to succeed no matter where they ended up.

Pickett was the first to leave and is starring at West Aurora. Reyna left the Mustangs toward the end of the 2021-22 season and is now playing a big role for Bishop Noll in Hammond, Indiana.

Brown and Johnson are still at St. Rita. Johnson committed to Illinois last season and the 6-foot-10 Brown opened the new year feeling good after making a verbal commitment to North Carolina on Jan. 2.

Tar Heels coach Hubert Davis was on hand to watch Brown play at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament at the end of December, but had also seen him play plenty of time during the travel season in the summer.

The two juniors are making noise along with Melvin Bell (offers from Illinois, Michigan and Missouri) and Lemont transfer Nojus Indrusaitis, who recently verbally committed to Iowa.

With all of that talent, there were huge expectations for the Mustangs, and they still figure to be dangerous when the postseason comes around and the state tournament is contested in March.

But for now, the team is trying to find itself. A preseason injury to Bell and a killer schedule found the Mustangs heading into this week’s action with a modest 8-6 record. That includes a three-game losing streak of heartbreaking games to Whitney Young (68-66), Proviso East (66-61 in overtime) and Chaminade of Missouri (60-57).

Bell returned in late December and the Mustangs are looking to turn things around and become the super power it was hoping for when the season started.

 

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Sandburg’s girls basketball team lifts freshman Zoe Trunk after an uplifting win over Lincoln-Way East. Sandburg High School photo

Sandburg/LWE II
Another game. Another classic.

Sandburg avenged a two-point loss to Lincoln-Way East in the championship of the 16-team Sandburg Classic on Dec. 28 with a 55-52 victory eight days later in a SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue contest in Orland Park.

Juliana Paddock led the Eagles with 18 points with Josie Canellis adding 13 and Claire Callaghan 10.

The two teams have one more regular-season game scheduled – Jan. 24 in Frankfort.

Could they meet a fourth time? Both teams are in the 17-team Class 4A Romeoville Sectional and, depending on how the seeds shake out, it’s a possibility.

 

A broken record in Oak Lawn
Oak Lawn junior Maeve Hassett nailed nine 3-pointers and a 73-14 victory over Eisenhower on Jan. 5 in Blue Island.

She broke the previous Spartans record of eight, set by current Moraine Valley standout Reagan Cameron. Hasset finished with a career-high 34 points, while sophomores Teagan Krzystof and Danielle Dempsey each hit double figures with 19 and 14 points, respectively.

 

Hoopsfest games finalized
The schedule for the 33rd Dick’s-Coach Kipp Hoopsfest, to be held Saturday and Monday at Montini, has been finalized.

On Jan. 14, Mother McAuley opens the 18-game showcase with a battle against Maine West. Marist faces Sandburg at 11 a.m. No area teams are playing on Jan. 16.

 

Versatile Austin wins again
St. Xavier University’s Claire Austin, a Marist graduate, was named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week for the second time this season.

She ended December with 18 points, 17 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in an 87-78 victory over Lawrence Tech to close the December portion of the schedule. She also became the first player in team history to score more than 1,000 career points, more than 500 rebounds, more than 200 steals and more than 200 blocks.

 

Friday night ‘Lights’
The Brother Rice-Mount Carmel game on Feb. 3 will be a battle of two strong teams in the Chicago Catholic League, but there is will also be a special Lights Night with a 5 p.m. pregame reception for all Lights alumni.

The Catholic League lightweight division — also known as the Lights — was formed in 1912. It lasted more than 60 years and was open to those 5-foot-9 or shorter.

Local News

Richards won its own regional on Feb.4 behind the efforts of Katie Barr (from left), Natalie Stahulak, Mia Montes, Ulyssa Garcia, Laurin Jacobs, Kylie Schaefer, Andrea Abarca, Yasmine Maali, seen here with head coach Ed Fink and assistant coach Brian Waight. The Bulldogs advanced to the Oswego East Sectional. Photo by Mike Walsh

Girls Bowling | Richards wins regional; Shepard’s Kahlen Ranson rolls to individual title

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Spread the loveBy Mike Walsh Correspondent Screaming and cheering parents and friends expressing their staunch support for their bowlers. Teammates fervently hoping for an opportunity to advance to sectional competition next weekend. For good measure, not one but two gender-reveal parties getting ready to begin a few lanes away. Quite a vibrant atmosphere for a…

Sandburg's competitive cheerleaders perform Saturday in the IHSA finals in Bloomington. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Cheerleading State Finals: Sandburg takes fourth behind conference rivals

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Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer BLOOMINGTON — Sandburg’s competitive cheerleaders finished fourth in a state finals competition that looked a lot like a SouthWest Suburban Conference meet. At least it did for the Large Team division competition, in which the top five finishers hail from the SWSC. The 2023 state finals were held…

Nazareth's quest for a state championship starts on Tuesday. Nazareth photo

Area Sports Roundup | Nazareth girls clinch conference crown with win over Carmel

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Spread the loveBy Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Nazareth’s girls basketball team is eyeing a Class 3A state championship after finishing second to Carmel a season ago. The Roadrunners whipped the Corsairs, 48-24, Feb. 4 to win the East Suburban Catholic Conference for the second straight year. It marked coach Ed Stritzel’s 400th career victory. Nazareth…

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Girls Bowling | Reavis wins second straight regional crown; Argo’s Sara Flynn take indie title

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Spread the loveBy Mike Walsh Correspondent Two years, two consecutive regional championships for Reavis’ girls bowling team. The Rams made it back-to-back titles in an impressive manner, topping the 13-team field at the Reavis Regional with a pinfall total of 4847, topping second-place Argo (4684) by 163 pins at Palos Lanes in Palos Hills Reavis…

Promoter Katie Goggin discusses the Countryside Summer Concert series. She has to book acts well in advance. (Photo by Steve Metsch)

Countryside plans summer concert series, bluegrass festival

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Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch It might be winter, but it’s never too soon to talk about summertime music. Such was the case Jan. 11 when the Countryside City Council’s Special Events Committee heard from promoter Katie Goggin regarding the city’s annual Summer Concert Series. The committee also heard about the second annual Bluegrass and Brews Festival…

Newly elected Judge Nick Kantas gives the oath of office to Senator Mike Porfirio. (Supplied photos)

Porfirio resigns township post to take Senate seat

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Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch Mike Porfirio is now a state senator and the Township of Lyons Board of Trustees has a vacancy. Porfirio submitted his resignation as a trustee, which was accepted by the board at its Jan. 10 meeting. Porfirio was elected to the Illinois Senate in November, and was sworn in as…

Deputy Police Chief David DeLeshe (left) and McCook Mayor Terrance Carr said the new drone will help investigate crimes. It can also be used to find hot spots in fires. (Photos by Steve Metsch)

Drone takes McCook crime fighting to new level

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Spread the loveBy Steve Metsch The McCook Police Department has a new weapon to fight crime. A new drone equipped with an infrared camera and the ability to zoom in 200 times was at the village’s latest board meeting on Jan. 17. The village used part of a $50,000 grant from the Secretary of State’s…

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Super Hero fun at Our Lady of the Snows

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Spread the love Catholic Schools Week was plenty of fun this year at Our Lady of the Snows School, as students were encouraged to dress as a super hero. Parents interested in checking out the school, 4810 S. Leamington, for 2023-24 are encouraged to call (773) 735-4810. – Supplied photo

Ray Hanania

System is rigged against regular folks

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Spread the love. By Ray Hanania Consumers are reeling over massive increases in Nicor Gas costs, and they can’t get answers because the system is rigged against them. Nicor Gas is owned by a massive conglomerate called Southern Gas, which has four gas subsidiaries serving 4.2 million customers. Nicor is the largest serving 2.2 million…

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Tri-State lane closures start Monday as area ramps prepare to reopen

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Spread the loveOvernight lane closures are scheduled next week to shift traffic on Interstate 55 and on the northbound Tri-State Tollway (Interstate 294) between Willow Springs Road and Plainfield Road and reopen the ramp connecting northbound I-294 to southbound I-55 and Wolf Road. On Monday, February 6, beginning at 9 p.m. and continuing until 5…

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Push for state child tax credit begins, could face uphill battle

Push for state child tax credit begins, could face uphill battle

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CAPITOL RECAP: Supreme Court ruling strengthens internet privacy law

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Pritzker announces $40 million grant program to promote development-ready ‘megasites’

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Illinois’ biometric privacy law strengthened by latest high court ruling

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Pritzker seeks more info on AP African American Studies course

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Report pushes for greater focus on teacher recruitment and retention amid shortages

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Illinois’ COVID-19 disaster proclamation to end in May

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CAPITOL RECAP: Gun lawsuit restraining order remains in place

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Appellate court upholds restraining order on assault weapons ban

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