Winning formula

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Time off beneficial as Bulldogs top Titans

  Well-rested athletes didn’t arrest Richards’ on-court development.
  In fact, Bulldogs coach John Chappetto was glad his guys received some unexpected time off last Tuesday, when sub-zero temperatures and snow combined to force the closure of many south suburban schools. That wiped out a scheduled nonconference contest with highly regarded Marian Catholic and meant Richards had gone a full two weeks without a game when it finally resumed on-court activities Friday night against Tinley Park.
  All did not go perfectly for the Bulldogs in the South Suburban Conference crossover encounter, as was evidenced when the visiting Titans fought back from a 15-point third-quarter deficit and forged a tie midway through the final stanza.
  “We had five guys on the floor who had no trust in each other,” Chappetto said. “It didn’t look good.”
  Things looked better after Chappetto called a timeout to get his players on the same page. Richards responded with a 17-9 run over the last 3:40 and kept its league ledger spotless with an 83-72 triumph at D-Wade Court.
  “We needed the timeout when I called it, for sure,” Chappetto said. “[Tinley Park is] OK — they have some talent, but I have a three-year starting point guard and a Division I center. It comes down to the team that has better talent, so we’d better win [in that situation].
  “Tinley Park played on Jan. 3 and won, [so] I think the Marian Catholic postponement was good for us. I don’t think we were ready to play them, and if that [outcome] went south, Friday’s game would have been tough to get.”
  The Bulldogs won just once in three tries at the Kankakee Tournament between Christmas and New Year’s, and the last of those games — against Carver — was played without junior guard Dedrick Shannon, who injured his ankle. So not only did Richards have to sit for a while on a sizable loss, but Shannon’s availability in early January was iffy.
  “His last game was Dec. 27, and he didn’t do anything except try to get healthy until Jan. 9,” Chappetto said.
  Shannon didn’t make his presence felt very keenly against Tinley until the fourth period, when he notched 10 of the Bulldogs’ last 25 points. His drive to the hoop initiated Richards’ closing run and then, following a Titans turnover, Deon Alexander’s three-point play off a putback got the Bulldogs (10-3, 5-0) rolling in earnest.
  “We didn’t do anything different,” Chappetto said. “Our turnovers, our missed free throws and our bad defense had gotten us in trouble, and it snowballed. But all of a sudden we realized we were in a tie game and we needed to be a little bit more together.
  “We just had to stop getting upset with each other and focus on the next play. [It helped that] Tinley quit scoring as well.”
  Shannon finished with 18 points for Richards, second only to Chicago State University-bound center Josh Meier’s team-high total of 20. Other Bulldogs reaching double digits were Spencer Tears (17 points) and Thaer Othman (11).
  Richards survived a nightmarish exhibition at the charity stripe, where it misfired on half of its 38 attempts. By doing so, it maintained a two-game edge in the loss column over SSC Red pursuers Reavis and Shepard.
  Conference matchups versus Lemont and Oak Forest were on this week’s docket, as are two games in the Rockford Jefferson Tournament on Saturday. That event continues on Monday with two more contests, as the Bulldogs tangle with a pair of foes from Rockford and a couple others from Belvidere.
  “We play six games in six days,” Chappetto said. “This is going to be a tough stretch for us.”
  No official makeup date for the Marian game has yet been settled on, but Chappetto anticipates it taking place sometime in February.


Tinley Park 10 19 22 21 - 72
Richards 15 24 19 25 - 83

Richards Scoring: Meier 20, Shannon 18, Tears 17, T. Othman 11, Alexander 9, Catledge 6, White 2.

Reality check

  • Written by Ken Karrson

Chargers take a tumble against Porters

  Twelve wins in 16 tries should create a sense of satisfaction in everyone involved with the achievement.

  So why is Stagg coach John Daniels not a happy man at the moment? The Chargers’ fourth loss offered the reason.
  That defeat, which was handed down by Lockport last Thursday night, featured Stagg in a less-than-flattering light. While the Porters have been a stalwart within the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue for a number of seasons, the 2013-14 campaign hasn’t been their best.
  The 51-41 win over the Chargers lifted Lockport just above the .500 plateau, but Daniels had no difficulty declaring the Porters the better team in this latest meeting between the schools.
  “We have a saying — play hard, play smart, play together — but we didn’t represent the image we want as a program,” he said. “I was very disappointed in our effort.
  “For years, I’ve talked about trying to build a good reputation and getting respect [for Stagg]. We’re there, but along with that comes the responsibility of playing up to everybody’s best effort.
  “Right now, we’re a very marked team and [Lockport] came in jacked up — they played harder than us and took it to us. It’s almost like the roles were switched [from past years].”
  As an illustration of that, Daniels pointed to the Porters’ 12 offensive rebounds in the contest. Eight of their 28 first-half points were generated on second chances, and Lockport’s physicality helped stake it to an 11-point lead by intermission.
  The Chargers (12-4, 2-2) didn’t fade away after that, but Porters boss Lawrence Thompson was in no hurry to give Stagg any sort of emotional boost.
  “Lockport tried taking the air out of the ball and working the clock,” Daniels said. “It was a good game plan he had.”
  That didn’t prevent the Chargers from eventually narrowing the gap to three points, but they were unable to complete a comeback. Contributing to that failed attempt were 12 missed free throws, including the front end of three 1-and-1s.
  While the hosts went 10-of-22 at the line for the game, the Porters buried 12-of-16 charity tosses.
  “We had opportunities to score, but we were flat,” said Daniels, whose club was also guilty of 14 miscues and shot just 39 percent from the field. He lamented, too, the fact none of his players dished out more than two assists.
  Jeff Goral totaled 15 points and four rebounds to lead Stagg, while Max Strus had 13 points and five boards. Daniels also praised Anthony Gardner, who did not score but demonstrated the greatest amount of hustle among Chargers players.
  “It’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t feel like a 12-4 season,” Daniels said. “We’ve got some issues to deal with and work through. Our practice on Wednesday was awful — there was no intensity.
  “We’ve had 177 wins over the past 9½ seasons, and [other athletes] had success being blue-collar players. They’re good kids [now], but I’ve got to find a way to get them hungry again. We’ve got to get it back — fast.”
  Stagg, which had to reschedule last Tuesday’s slated contest against Oak Lawn for Feb. 1 due to bad weather, meets up with SWSC Blue and District 230 rival Sandburg Saturday at the United Center. The Eagles got tagged with a 77-73 overtime loss by Joliet West in their most recent encounter.
  “Sandburg’s going to be hungry for us,” Daniels said. “We can’t have an off-night in our league.”


Lockport 16 12 10 13 - 51
Stagg 11 6 10 14 - 41

Stagg Scoring: Goral 15, Strus 13, White 9, Sims 4. Rebounds: Strus 5.

Diving into wild college career

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park’s Barrett’s Holy Cross hockey team struggling but making some history 

  Orland Park’s Mike Barrett started his college hockey career on a team with a sub-par 4-13-2 record.

  But Barrett and Holy Cross haven’t been at a loss for excitement at the Worcester, Mass campus.

  The former Marist High School student and his teammates have enjoyed a wild ride so far this season. That included:
  • A 5-4 victory over Boston College, which was ranked seventh in the nation at the time, on Nov. 29 in Boston. Barrett had two goals and an assist in that game.
  It was the first time Holy Cross ever beat BC and it’s the first time Boston College ever lost to an Atlantic Hockey team.
  “It was unbelievable,” Barrett told reporters after the game. “Everyone in hockey knows the talent and prestige of the BC hockey team so it makes the win that much better.
  “I can’t give enough credit to Matt Vidal, Castan Sommer, and Joe McNamara for the goals. Joe set up the first one and my linemates (Vidal and Sommer) made the second one possible; all the credit goes to them.”

No pushovers

  • Written by Anthony Nasella

EP feeling better after winning last 3 of 4

  Evergreen Park’s boys basketball team opened the season 0-5 but won three out of four games in the Immaculate Conception/Westmont Tournament for a second-place finish.
  That gave the Mustangs a shot in the arm heading into Friday’s showdown against Oak Forest.
  “We’re not going to get pushed over, I’ll tell you that,’’ Mustangs coach Pat Flannigan said. “Against Oak Forest, we’re going to rise to occasion and play like we’re capable of. No matter our record, our opponent is going to be in for fight. They won’t be able to mark as a win against Evergreen Park, I’ll tell you that.”
  The title game in Elmhurst didn’t go well, however.

Stagg and Sandburg to reunite at United Center Jan. 18

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

  Michael Jordan, Derrick Rose, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are on a long list of people who have played there.

  Add the names Max Strus, Kevin White, Niko Cahue and Niko Kogionis to that list.
  While Strus and White from Stagg and the two Nikos from Sandburg are not household names across the country, they will join their teammates in getting a chance to say they have played on a historic basketball court that those NBA legends and others have played for when the two area District 230 rivals hook up at 2 p.m. Jan. 18 in a Southwest Suburban Conference Blue battle at the United Center.