Riverside-Brookfield Shootout Preview

Time to get back into basketball. The June 21-23, 17th Annual Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout field and schedule have been announced. The field is packed with top teams including a Chicago area appearance by two-time 4A state champ Belleville West.

The 64-team tournament includes: Belleville West; 4A runner-up Evanston; 4A third place Curie; 3A state champ East St. Louis; 3A runner-up Bogan; 3A third place DePaul Prep; 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel; 4A sectional champs Stevenson, Bolingbrook and Simeon, 3A Regional champs St. Viator; 2A regional champ Uplift.

A couple of first round games should prove interesting. The DePaul Prep Rams, (CCL Blue champs and 3A third-place), take on Belleville West, 4A state champ the last two-years, late Friday at 8:45 p.m. The Rams recently murderous schedule adds a doozy. The Rams graduated three starters among the best in school history, Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony and Pavle Pantovic. This game should prove quite a challenge for the Rams even though the Maroons will not have two time player of the year and Ohio State recruit E. J. Liddell. We should get a good preview of the Rams new look with the talented group of sophomores as well as juniors D.J. Shower and Brian Mathews.

Another interesting first round game is ESCC 2019 champ Marian Catholic against rival St. Viator, Saturday at 12:35 p.m. Pool M is curiously packed with Marian Catholic, St. Viator, defending 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel as well as Northern IL-Big 12 East conference champ DeKalb.

The Chicago Catholic League is well represented with 10 of its 16 teams in attendance. Conspicuous in its absence is CCL White Division champs St. Rita. Perhaps this has something to do with the recent dismissal of this coach Gary DeCesare.

The Chicago Public League also has top teams in attendance (in no particular order): Curie, Bogan, Simeon, Whitney Young, Uplift and Lincoln Park.

Frequent viewers of this channel know that I tend to concentrate on Chicago Catholic League and CPS games. I am looking to branch out some this year and take in more suburban games. I definitely have to see Max Christie at Rolling Meadows. The Mustangs take on Curie on Friday at 6:55 in R-B’s main gym.

I am also looking forward to seeing Notre Dame’s talented young team with juniors Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico. Marian Catholic better watch out for Notre Dame this season. The Dons are going to be good.

The thing about these preseason games is that they are not really like an in-season matchup. The games are quick, the lineups are fluid and don’t reflect the probable in-season starting line-up. There isn’t a whole lot of defense played. I wish I was a more seasoned analyst to tell one exactly what to look for. But I am neither a sportswriter nor a basketball expert. I am photographer and a fan.

As for the photography of this event, it doesn’t lend itself to great picture taking opportunities. Many of the games are in a field house and small gyms without the best light. I am also not as prepared as usual on which players to watch. I am not there to take photos as much as gain intelligence on the best teams to photograph in the upcoming season.

Nevertheless, I am jazzed about the start of the pre-season, at least for me. Hope to see you there—June 21-23 at Riverside-Brookfield High School. I see what I can do about getting some stories and photos up in IL Preps Insider as well.

IHSA Boys Playoff Weekend Recap

We are a week separated from the IHSA 3A and 4A Boys Playoffs now and I am now getting around to the recap. I spent last Friday and Saturday in Peoria photographing as many games as I could.

I found out one cannot photograph and process all the games in real time. Two games per day is about all I can do and get galleries and stories up on a timely fashion.

As for the games themselves, they did not disappoint. Well, except for the first game, where m y DePaul Prep lost to Bogan. The Rams had good shots early but they would not fall. Credit to Bogan. They put on a stellar defense effort basically shutting down everyone on DePaul except Perry Cowen. After that East St. Louis impressed against a tough and scrappy Peoria Manual team in a very entertaining battle.

4A was especially fun. I have seen Evanston five times this year and a couple times last year. Very good and entertaining team. Extremely well coached. Sr. guard Jaheim Holden has to be one of the most exciting players I have seen in the past few years. The Wildkits handles Rochford East who I had not seen. Evanston posses so many matchup problems. Rockford constantly lost track of sophomore Blake Peters and he made them pay. Peters was 7 for 8 from beyond the arc—just deadly.

Then the biggest game of the season so far, Curie v. Beilleville West. E.J. Liddell is better than advertised. Gonna be star at the next level. He has it all. Curie lost composure at the end. The Condors just ran out magic and one by one their best players fouled out.

DePaul Prep refocused and came out wanting to end the season with a win in the 3A Third Place game on Saturday morning. They did just that, soundly defeating a Peoria Manuel team that did not want to be there.

Frankly, I was busy working on photos of the DePaul v. Manuel game and I didn’t see much of the 4A Third Place game. As I recall, Curie won but what I remember is that they didn’t want to be there eight.

Then the premier Evanston v. Belleville West 4A Championship on Saturday night. What a game! It was tough for the Maroons to matchup against Evanston early. The Wildkits came out running and opened a seven point half time lead. As good as the Wildkits looked, Belleville West was playing Evanston’s game and stayed right with the Kits. One just got the feeling at the half that the Maroons would overcome.

That they did. No three pointers for Blake Peters. E.J. Liddell got the ball inside and either scored or dished it off for an easy backdoor bucket. The Maroons overcame and pulled away. It was quite a show.

And then, all the sudden, it was over. Time to go back to Chicago. It just left me wanting more.

Thanks to all for another wonderful high school basketball season. The R-B summer tournament will be here soon. Then the Thanksgiving tournaments. See you then.

As for the photos, these are a few good ones I got over both days. I hope you like them.

CPS Quarterfinals: Simeon 66, Lane 59

Whitney Young Handles Lane 78-69

The Lane Tech Indians (13-7, 4-4) traveled to #5 Whitney Young Dolphins (17-6, 6-1) Wednesday evening (Jan. 23, 2019) for the final CPS Red-West North conference game. Despite the Whitney Young looking every bit the part of their #5 ranking, Lane Tech hung around all evening on the strength of an impressive press break and excellent three point shooting. The Indians got within six points late in the fourth quarter but the late charge failed with the Indians falling 78-69.

The Whitney Young gym presents some challenges to photographing games. First, there is very little room between the baseline and the wall. I couldn’t risk sitting down because I would not get out of the way if a player come flying off the court. Second is the matter of the cheerleaders. Two rows of cheerleaders on either side of the lane—maybe 20 or 24. Not enough room for cheerleaders and photographers.

On the bright side, Whitney Young improved the lights since last year. They installed some new fluorescent lights which are a vast improvement.

I hope you like the photos.

Lane Falls to Orr 72-53

Last night (Jan. 18, 2019), the Lane Tech Indians fell to the Orr Spartans 72-53 at Lane. Lane played their hearts out but Orr was just too good.

I wish I could write more about the game. But last night, more than usual, I wasn’t paying much attention to the game. I was concentrating on the getting good shots, on being in the right position to get good shots and on anticipating the action.

As it turns out, I did okay. Not my best work, but respectable work on short notice without an opportunity to prepare. A good day. The day of my first photo credit in the Chicago Sun-Times.

I hope you like the photos.

Notre Dame Defeats Lake View 47-35

Dons survive a challenge from the Wildcats at the DePaul Prep/Lane Battle of the Bridge Thanksgiving Tournament 47-35.

Evanston Takes Down Lane Tech 9-7 in 4A Sectional Semi

Evanston played Lane Tech last Thursday (May 31, 2018) at Loyola's Munz athletic fields campus. It was a great game. Evanston jumped out to a two run lead. Lane rebounded with seven runs a couple innings later. Then Evanston put up seven runs of its own an inning later and took a 9 - 7 lead. The Indians were unable to make up the difference. Evanston won 9-7 and advanced to play Loyola on Saturday. 

The  photos were high shutter speed and high ISO. The Loyola announcer was gracious enough to let me shoot photos from the mobile press box which helped me get some great shots. 

Simeon Wins CPS City Championship

I photographed the Simeon v. Orr CPS championship game today (Feb. 18, 2018) at Chicago State's Convocation Center. Great game. Great venue. Great light. 

The Sun-Times' Michael O'Brien wrote a very good account of the game which I won't try to best here. I have seen Orr many times over the past three years and, of course, I read Rick Telander's wonderful series last year about the team. So I was kind of hoping they could continue the Cinderella story by knocking off powerhouse Simeon. Ya, that didn't happen. Simeon is good. Really good. Workmanlike. Never-in-doubt kind of really good. Great even. 

Here are my photos. Of two state championship teams.