DePaul Prep Edges Latin 4-3 to Win 2A Regional

The DePaul Prep Rams survived a very good Latin Romans team 4-3 Saturday evening at Kerry Wood Field to win their second consecutive 2A Regional Championship.

Wonderful game played by both teams. Romans played flawless defense. Rams pitching got the better of the Romans.

Rams move on to face Lisle High School at Illinois Benediction on Wednesday evening. The Rams beat Lisle 10-6 at Lisle in March. They look to repeat that performance and advance to the Sectional Final on Saturday against the winner of Aurora Christian (or Westmont—game suspended with Aurora Christian winning 10-0 in the 4th) v. Holy Trinity.

As for the photos, despite a 50/50 chance of rain at game time, conditions were pretty good. It did not rain at all. It was overcast but still pretty bright. No harsh shadows.

I shot at 1/2000 shutter speed and about 1000-1250 ISO. The high shutter speed is necessary for baseball. Next time it is bright I will go higher. The ISO graininess showed up on the tight crops but the real tight crops weren’t usable anyway.

I mostly changed around positioning. I was out on the field away from the fence, which I would rather not do but I had to change things up.

Not too many more baseball games this season. We’ll have to carry on next year. Hopefully by then I will have a 300mm 2.8. Absolutely necessary lens for baseball.

St. Ignatius Defeats DePaul Prep 10-2

The DePaul Prep Rams hosted the St. Ignatius Wolfpack Saturday (April 13, 2019) afternoon at Kerry Wood Field. The Wolfpack hitters were crushing the baseball, scoring two runs each in the first three innings. As is their way, the Rams keep fighting but could not come back, ultimately falling to St. Ignatius—10-2.

This had to be the high school baseball game with more well hit baseballs than any other I have seen. The Wolfpack absolutely pasted the baseball. Triple to the gap after triple to the gap after triple to the gap. St. Ignatius catcher J. Loftus hit a ball that I thought might leave Kerry Wood Field. I have never even seen one come close to hitting the fence. I had to watch to see if would go out. It didn’t.

St. Ignatius student photographer, junior Luke Hales, made his way up to the 47th Ward’s Kerry Wood Field for the game. He got some bad info on the start time and arrived a little later for the 4:00 p.m., start time. It didn’t much matter. He got some great shots. Luke is a very talented photographer and he’s like 16 years old. He knows how to operate the camera. Great color on his photos. He is developing an eye for composition.

My photos are not my best work. I struggled a little with the late afternoon light and shadows. The manual ISO was a problem. I should have gone auto. Nevertheless, shooting the game was useful. The photos might be ordinary, or worse, but I learned something.

St. Rita Defeats DePaul Prep 12-0.

No other way to put this, the DePaul Prep Rams took a shellacking at the hands of the St. Rita Mustangs, 12-0, at Kerry Wood Field Saturday morning. I wasn’t there to write a story so I am a little short on details. The details wouldn’t be pretty anyway.

I was there to get some good daylight baseball photos. There was a low haze this late morning. A little overcast too. I set up the 5D with the 24-300mm 5.6 to get some behind the plate. I set the shutter speed at 1/2000. It worked. I got some good shots with a frozen baseball. I had to push the ISO to 400 but that doesn’t make much of a difference on a full frame 5D Mark IV. The photos from the 70-200mm 2.8 are noticeably sharper that the 24-300. I really need to get one of those 300mm 2.8 lenses.

I wanted to settle on the best positions for baseball as well. It seems that the first and third base sides just back the dugouts are the best place for the most shots. Behind the plate is only good for photos of the pitcher. One can’t get good shots of action in the field from there.

So here are the photos. I have a lot more work to do getting good photos of this year’s edition of Rams Baseball.

DePaul Prep v. Peoria Richwoods

These are not my best photos. I had not planned to shoot this game. I knew I could not stay. I was driving by, my camera was in the trunk, so I thought I would stop and take a few photos. I used the 24-300mm, f5.6. Not the right lens for night baseball but I thought I would give it a try. This pushed the ISO too high making the photos grain and not sharp.

Okay, excuses out of the way, I got lucky on a few. I will be back to get some good ones when I can plan it out better and use the proper equipment.

Stay tuned.

DePaul Prep Falls to Bogan 51-31 in 3A Semi

The DePaul Prep Rams lost to the Bogan Bengals 51-31 in the IHSA class 3A semi-final this afternoon (March 15, 2019) at Peoria’s Carver Arena. The Bengals, ranked #2 in Sun-Times Super 25, 29-3, topped the Rams in all phases. The Rams struggled out of the gate. They were getting good shots but they would not fall. Rams Sr. Guard and Brown recruit Perry Cowen was the games leading scorer with 14.

The Rams will face the Manuel, also the Rams, tomorrow in the 3A game at 11:00 a.m. Bogan advances to face East St. Louis in the 3A championship tomorrow afternoon.

DePaul Prep Defeats St. Viator 62-53 and Advances Directly to State Finals

The DePaul Prep Rams defeated the St. Viator Lions 62-53 Friday (March 8, 2019) winning Grayslake 3A Sectional and advance directly to State Finals in Peoria next weekend because of the disqualification of both North Lawndale and Farragut after a fight at the end of their game.

DePaul Prep v. St. Viator Preview

So here we are.

Today is the day of the sectional final between the St. Viator Lions and the DePaul Prep Rams. Many have been waiting for this day since before the IHSA announced the sectional assignments months ago. It was not a secret that the Lions and the Rams are the two best teams in the Grayslake Central Sectional and probably the two best 3A teams north of Madison Street.

Both teams started out gangbusters and hit a rough patch near the end of the season. St. Viator’s Treyvon Calvin broke a bone in his hand and missed several weeks. The Rams suffered a couple losses in their killer schedule and fell out of the rankings for a bit. Each team rallied, the Rams won the Chicago Catholic League Blue and took care of business in the playoffs and here we are.

Some may know that I have connections to both schools. I graduated from St. Viator in 1981. My brother Dan is a Viatorian priest and taught there for many years. My sister is on the Finance Committee. I have several cousins that are students there now.

And my children attended to Gordon Tech, which then became DePaul Prep. I probably have a dozen close friends and relatives that attended Gordon Tech. It’s a neighborhood school. Since my children started at Gordon, I have gotten to know the coaches, teachers and administrators at the school. I have been photographing Gordon Tech and DePaul Prep athletics for several years now.

I like to think of myself as a photographer, a photojournalist. On occasion, my photos are published so I try to work by journalistic standards. Frankly, my photos are much better when I am concentrating on taking pictures and not watching the game. But I am not really a photojournalist—at least not for today’s game. So I guess I could be rooting for a team.

Joe Henricksen in the Sun-Times makes predictions about which teams are going to win sectional finals. I am much too superstitious for that. My Irish heritage won’t allow such a thing. But I will however offer some thoughts.

The Rams and the Lions match up well against each other. Jeremiah Hernandez and Perry Cowen are similar players. Trey Calvin and Raheem Anthony are similar as well. Conor Kochera and Pavle Pantovic can both play and contribute mightily inside. The size of the players over all is pretty close. Both teams can play excellent defense, can run the floor and play a half court game.

The Lions have been ranked higher than the Rams most of the season. I generally agree with Michael O’Brien and Mike Clark’s rankings but at this point in sectional finals rankings don’t mean much. I guess they will just have to play the game. I am lucky that one of my teams will probably make it to Peoria. That will be tough for me to shoot the state finals and have one of my teams playing. There I will be a photojournalist and can’t have a rooting interest. I will have to find a way to deal with it.

And in the immortal words of Paul Chabura . . .

DePaul Prep Comes Back to Defeat Carmel 57-46 in Sectional Semi-final

The DePaul Prep Rams defeated the Carmel Corsairs 57-46 Tuesday evening (March 5, 2019) to advance in the Grayslake 3A Sectional. (More on that in the following post.)

The Rams started slow. I mean really slow. As slow as I have ever seen them start. They took a lot of shots in the first quarter. good makable shots. The shots would not fall. The Rams were behind 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.

But they rallied going on a 11-0 to start the second quarter. I felt a lot better. I confess at the end of the first, I was a little concerned that we might be a quarter of the way into another evening like the one in North Chicago last March.

It all worked out. Tom Kleinschmidt and his Rams dialed up the pressure and made shots. They gathered a sizable lead late into the fourth quarter. It got a little too close in the closing minutes but Raheem Anthony sealed the victory after a tough first three quarters for him with 6 for sure, but maybe 8, free throws to close out the game. That was clutch. (I am a little sketchy on the details at times because I am taking photos, not notes, during the game.)

My photos aren’t very good because I was watching the game too much. And the light in the gym sucked. Consequently, I had the ISO up too high. The photos are really grainy. Hope you like them.

DePaul Prep Defeats Ridgewood 56-32 to win 3A Regional

The DePaul Prep Rams took care of business against the host Ridgewood Rebels 56-32 on Friday (March 1, 2019) to win their fifth IHSA Regional Playoff Championship in a row.

This is the last phase of the season—the IHSA 3A Playoffs. Been through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Shootouts, CCL games, now the playoffs. Another Regional championship in the books now its only good teams in front of the DePaul Prep Rams. Carmel, St. Viator, Farragut, Morgan Park and Springfield Southeast. That’s all. No problem.

The Rams have played the schedule for it. They played everyone tough. Took Morgan Park to the end. They can play. They know what to expect. Dribble, shoot, play defense, make layups and most importantly—make free throws. Do those things, get a little luck and who knows.  

Go Rams!

DePaul Prep Senior Night v. Mather, Rams 70, Panthers 25

The DePaul Prep Rams capped off a historic season Chicago Catholic League Championship regular season last night (Feb. 21, 2019) with an oversized 70-25 win over Mather. The Rams finish the regular season 20-9 overall and 12-3 in the Catholic League.

Seniors Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony, Pavle Pantovic and Jack O’Brien played their last game in the Tom Winiecki Gym and it was a fun one. Thank you gentlemen for your Ram pride and dedication to your team and your school.

See you in Peoria!

DePaul Prep Defeats De La Salle 63-44 to Win Catholic League Blue Outright

Below are my photos from the DePaul Prep v. De La Salle game last night (Feb. 19, 2019) at DePaul Prep. By virtue of the 63-44 victory over the Meteors, the Rams’ stand alone atop the Chicago Catholic League’s Blue Division. For the first time since 2000, the Catholic League basketball championship resides at Addison and California.

It was an emotional night for the Rams and their supporters, including this one, after a disappointing loss at St. Rita on Sunday. The Rams improve their overall record to 19-9 and 12-3 in the Chicago Catholic League. One more regular season game remains for the Rams. On Thursday night (Feb. 21, 2019), Mather High School comes to the Tom Winiecki Gym for a 6:00 p.m., senior night finale.

I would like to offer a special word of thanks to Tom Kleinschmidt and Ken Gryzwa for their offer to let me cut down a piece of the net and for giving me a piece after I had to refuse. It has been my honor and privilege to photograph the Gordon Tech/DePaul Prep games for several years now. I have gradually gotten better as a photographer as a result. I could never have done it without so many gracious subjects. I am overjoyed to see the Rams enjoying so much success. I am equally pleased to see that DePaul Prep remains a great school with a rich tradition of and vibrant future for Catholic education in Chicago.

Congratulations and continued success to my friends at DePaul Prep. In the immortal words of Paul Chabura, “And as always, Go Rams!”

DePaul Prep Defeats St. Ignatius 51-38

DePaul Prep Rams clinch a Chicago Catholic League Blue title with victory over Wolfpack.

Brother Rice Defeats DePaul Prep 67-54

On occasion I write, mostly in jest, that the light in the gym is the most important part of high school basketball. Well tonight I was down in the 19th Ward at Brother Rice. Please understand that I write this only from a place of Christian charity and as a loyal Chicago Catholic Leaguer, the light in the Brother Rice gym is . . . well . . . horrible.

There, I wrote it. Brother Rice has the nicest high school football stadium outside of Texas but very disappointing light in the gym. Such light as there is in the gym, which is not much, is yellow. All you Crusader fans and especially members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, please do not hate me. It’s not personal; it’s photography.

I write this only to try and explain what I had to do to get some usable photos. I am still struggling to be a passable photographer. Much of what I have done this year is experimentation on the use of ISO. My current theory is not to go above 3200 ISO and try to bring back the exposure in Lightroom. This goes against my instinct to get the exposure right in the camera. When I shoot ISO above 3200, I find that my photos were noticeably grainy. (For example, look at my photos from the Orr v. Lane game, especially the photo that ended up in the Sun-Times.)

Today’s photos are competent enough but not good. The autofocus was dancing around on me. None of the photos are sharp. I have either reached the limit of my cameras’ capabilities or I don’t know how to make the most of the cameras—probably a little of both. I have got to get better at this.

As for the game, I think I will dial back that sort of commentary for a while. I talked to a friend this week who is a actual sportswriter. He said he enjoyed the blog but I found myself apologizing and explaining that I don’t pretend to be a sportswriter. That being said, the game was marred by fouls. I thought the referees did a terrible job on calls against both teams. Marquise Kennedy is very impressive. His foul shooting won the game. He can carry his team and did this afternoon.

Hope you like the photos.

End of the Regular Season

Early in this basketball season I wrote about the high school basketball season coming in phases: Thankgiving tournament, CCL crossover games, Christmas tournament, assorted shootouts. Now we are upon the second to last phase, the Chicago Catholic League Blue final games and await the IHSA playoffs.

I have told anyone foolhardy enough to listen that winning the Catholic League was what I wanted to see the DePaul Prep Rams do. Getting to Peoria would be nice but winning the 100 plus year old Chicago Catholic League is an accomplishment that means something, at least to me.

Well here we are. 8-1 in the Catholic League Blue with a one game lead on St. Laurence. Win out, and the DePaul Prep Rams and their coach, Tom Kleinschmidt will have won the Chicago Catholic League—the Catholic League Blue. But that is a subject for another day. Winning out means beating De La Salle, Fenwick (at Fenwick), Brother Rice (at Brother Rice), Loyola , St. Ignatius and then a chance to cap it off with a win against CCL White leader St. Rita.

There it is. Six CCL games in twelve days. All against historic rivals and good teams. If you do that, you’ve done something.

Even with this formidable task ahead and despite my frequent refrain against looking ahead, last night’s sixth Superbowl victory by Tom Brady and Bill Belicheck has me thinking. I could not stop myself from looking at the 3A IHSA playoffs and playing out the Sectional matchups.

Unlike most years, DePaul is not hosting either a regional or sectional. The IHSA 3A sectional assignments are out and DePaul has landed in the Grayslake Sectional. There are nineteen teams assigned to that sectional, including the formerly highly ranked and still extremely talented St. Viator Lions.

There are four regionals hosted by St. Patrick, Ridgewood, St. Viator and Carmel. It’s my understanding that teams are supposed to be assigned to geographically close regionals and not purely by seeded by the best teams. In practice, I am not sure how that all works. So I improvised. Basically, I just guessed. Looking at geography and over all records, this is what I came up with:

St. Patrick Regional: St. Patrick , Steinmetz, DePaul Prep, Noble/ITW Speer, Marine Leadership Academy.

Ridgewood Regional: Ridgewood, Sullivan, Noble/Pritzker, CICS/Northtown, Alcott.

St. Viator Regional: St. Viator, Northside, Elmwood Park, Amundsen and Intrinsic Charter.

Carmel Regional: Carmel, Antioch, North Grand and Grayslake Central

It’s not going to be exactly this but I would think not too far off. So we are probably looking at the regional champions being, DePaul Prep, Ridgewood (maybe Sullivan), St. Viator and Carmel with St. Viator squaring off against DePaul Prep in the Sectional final. Even with a Trey Calvin being out with a broken hand, St. Viator with Jeremiah Hernandez is very, very good. This is probably the best St. Viator basketball team in the school’s fifty-eight year history. I have been around that school since I started there are a freshman in 1977. This year’s team is the best I can remember and I am old, really old.

DePaul Prep and St. Viator in a sectional final shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. The Rams and Lions have been the only two ranked teams in the Grayslake Sectional. Each team has scheduled top competition and dominated their conferences.

As for the Super-sectional, the IHSA website hasn’t released which Super-sectionals will play each others. But if last year is a guide, the two northern most Super-sectionals played each other, Sears Center and NIU. If that holds true this year, the DePaul Prep Rams would not face the leading 3A powerhouses, Morgan Park and Bogan until Peoria.

So, there you have it. Win six Catholic Blue games and beat St. Viator. All for the chance to face Morgan Park, Bogan and or Springfield Southeast. This makes that stretch of games in the shootouts look like a walk in the park. Let’s get to work.

DePaul Prep’s Raheem Anthony with an over the head pass to Perry Cowen for the easy layup against Morgan Park.

DePaul Prep’s Raheem Anthony with an over the head pass to Perry Cowen for the easy layup against Morgan Park.

DePaul Prep Falls to Quincy in OT, 64-52

I made the trip out to the Quincy Shootout. I wish I could say I did it simply because of my love of basketball but it worked out where I could drop off my wife at her parents and then I went on to Quincy. Everyone was happy.

My first visit to Quincy. Lots of basketball history. Fancy Hall of Fame room. They put on a nice event at Quincy Senior High School with first rate facilities, good food and very clean light in the gym!

I shot two games. Marian Catholic v. Rock Ridge from Columbia, Missouri. Marian slowly and methodically dismantled Rock Ridge. Every time I see Marian they impress me more and more. They are just calm and steady. No weaknesses. Ahron Uliss had 23 points. The Spartans have one of the toughest roads to Peoria as they could get. They will have to get past Brother Rice, Simeon, St. Rita and Bloom in the 4A Eisenhower Sectional and then either Curie or Whitney Young in the Northwestern Super-Sectional. Ouch!

The DePaul v. Quincy game was a whole other animal. Rams shot poorly in the first quarter. In the second quarter, they settled down, went on a run and took a 29-24 lead into the locker room.

I don’t want to say there was poor officiating. I am no judge of officials but they called 24 fouls on DePaul and 12 fouls on Quincy. I have seen a great many DePaul Prep/Gordon Tech games since Tom Klienschmidt took over. I don’t remember seeing any player foul out. Seriously. I mean like never.

Three starters fouled out tonight at Quincy.

Nevertheless, I have to hand it to Quincy. The Rams had chances and did not take advantage. The Blue Devils made all their free throws at the end of regulation, all except the one which opened the door for Perry Cowen to tie the game at the end sending the game to overtime. As I wrote above, I don’t like to blame a loss on bad officiating so I won’t. But this I learned: beware of the officials when visiting a downstate home team in a big game.

The game got a little chippy at the end. The teams exchanged some choice words as they walked out of the gym. I could not hear what was said so I hesitate to assign blame. I will see what I can find out and report.

As for the photos, there is very nice light in the Quincy gym. After a little testing before the first game, I decided to shoot both cameras at 3200 ISO and 1/800. My plan was to bring back the exposure in Lightroom.

You be the judge.

#5 Morgan Park Defeats #12 DePaul Prep 62-56

Coach Nick Irvin and his #5 ranked Morgan Park Mustangs came to the DePaul Prep this evening (Jan. 12, 2019) for a shootout with the #12 ranked DePaul Prep Rams. In a high energy game, the Mustangs held off the Rams throughout the whole game despite good shooting by the Rams. Although the Rams drew within 3 points late in the fourth quarter, Morgan Park prevailed in the potential state championship preview by the score of 62-56.

More on the game and the rest of the inaugural Steve Pappas Shootout later. Let get right to the photos.