Sports wrap

  • Written by Anthony Nasella

Despite losing a large group of seniors to graduation last spring, Shepard’s boys’ track team is showing signs of promise in the early weeks of the 2014 season, as evidenced by a pair of first-place finishes in its two most recent meets.

On March 6, the Astros were the top team at the Argo Invitational, which featured Richards and Oak Lawn in addition to Shepard and the host school. Last Friday, the Astros also set the pace at the Morton West Invitational, a meet that included six squads in all. Besides the home team and Shepard, the field contained Addison Trail, Fenwick, Ridgewood and Riverside-Brookfield.
“We competed in three meets before Argo, [including a 28-team meet at Illinois Wesleyan University], but the kids really competed well in the past two,” Astros coach Scott Wilkins said. “We graduated a lot of talented kids [from] last year, but we’re a very deep team this year and will be strong in our area.
“We cover all the events really well, and we have a lot of kids who are very versatile. With that said, we don’t have many really big-time studs, [but] there definitely is some potential for some of the kids to qualify for the [upcoming] indoor Top Times meet.”

Class 4A Shepard Regional

  • Written by Ken Karson

Area teams knocked out of playoffs

Stagg pushes Simeon to limit, Richards’ Chappetto coaches last game

Four-time defending state champions aren’t easily frightened.
Even when the program is populated by a large number of younger members, tradition and reputation trump all else. That’s what Simeon coaches were loudly reminding their players of during a late timeout in Friday night’s Class 4A Shepard Regional final.
But the Wolverines definitely had sufficient reason to be worried. Stagg, an opponent thought by most to be overmatched heading into the championship contest, had instead nipped at Simeon’s heels all evening.
And after the Chargers’ Nick Sims buried a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, only one point separated the two clubs. That’s when Stagg boss John Daniels heard his coaching counterparts exhorting their athletes, and in the remaining time the Wolverines showed some mettle by blocking a shot attempt by Chargers standout Max Strus.
Simeon also had a bit of good fortune on its side, as 3-balls from Strus and Jeff Goral were off the mark. When the latter’s shot failed to settle into the cylinder, the Wolverines were able to escape with a 47-45 victory that netted them a 12th consecutive regional title.

Class 4A Eisenhower Regional

  • Written by Ken Karson

In familiar territory

Eagles’ rally too late to save them

Sandburg went down this same road one too many times.
After the regular season concluded with five straight narrow losses, Eagles coach Todd Allen thought maybe circumstances had at long last improved for his team. Last Monday’s conquest of Eisenhower in the Cardinals’ own Class 4A regional certainly seemed to offer promise - Sandburg’s defense pitched a shutout for over five minutes of the fourth quarter, which paved the way for a 77-64 triumph in Blue Island.
“I don’t know what their low [point total] for the year is, but to hold that team scoreless for [almost] six minutes [means our] guys really did a great job,” Allen said. “Once we adjusted to the quick subbing and their shooting 3s from 3 feet behind the line, we kind of got our legs under us.”

Class 3A Plano Regional

  • Written by Ken Karson

Knights say good night

JCA tops Christian in postseason opener

A good Knights work went unrewarded last Monday night.
That’s been an ongoing occurrence for Chicago Christian during the 2013-14 basketball campaign. According to coach Kevin Pittman, the Knights “improved immensely since the start of the season,” but that had relatively little positive impact on the win-loss numbers.
But a 50-44 setback to Joliet Catholic Academy carried a little more weight than usual. Seeing as how it came in the Class 3A Plano Regional, it officially marked the end of the road for Christian until next fall.

Class 4A King Regional

  • Written by Ken Karson

King(s) for the day

Jaguars usher RedHawks out of playoffs

Once upon a time, King was the scourge of the Chicago Public League.
Those halcyon days of basketball dominance are long gone, but the Jaguars proved last Tuesday in their own Class 4A regional that some fight remains within them. While 7-footers such as Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton no longer roam the court attired in King’s colors, it didn’t matter when it came to subduing Marist.
The RedHawks, as expected, used another strong defensive performance to keep the Jaguars somewhat in check, but their own offense didn’t click with the kind of efficiency coach Gene Nolan would have preferred. Forty-one percent shooting, eight missed free throws — including the front end of four 1-and-1s — and 21 turnovers all loomed large in Marist’s eventual demise, which occurred by a gut-wrenching 47-46 final score.