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.

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.

DePaul Wins IHSA Third Place 64-44 over Manuel

The DePaul Prep Rams did what so few get to do—win their last game of the season. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the best way to do it but the Rams got to get a little of the bad taste our of their mouths that they would carry around until November. The DePaul Prep Rams, 26-10, wanted to win and played like it. The same cannot be said about their opponent, Peoria Manuel.

In yesterday’s semi-final Manuel gave eventual 3A champion East St. Louis all they could handle losing a fast-paced physical game, 57-48. Manuel seemed in no mood to play and it showed.

DePaul sophomore guard Tyler Johnson lead all scorers with 15 including two three-pointers. Senior guard Perry Cowen finished with 13 points in his final high school game before going on to play at Brown University next fall. Senior guard Raheem Anthony had 10 points.

The DePaul Prep Rams finished the school’s most successful season in 19 years, The Rams won the Catholic League Blue Division and finished third in the state in 3A.

The future is bright for the Rams. Ty Johnson, Lance Mosley and a host of Catholic League champion sophomores return.

Evanston Out Guns Rockford East 94-82

It didn’t seem that close. The Evanston Township High School Wildkits (31-4) came out firing on all cylinders against the Rockford East E-RABs. The Kits opened up a 25-15 first quarter lead and never looked back. Well, except they actually did in the third quarter when the E-RABS out scored them 29-20.

The game never seemed in doubt despite a valiant charge by Rockford East. Evanston’s Sr. forward Blake Peters went seven for eight shooting threes. That’s just spectacular. He lead all scorers with 27 points.

Be careful what you wish for. The Wildkits will face Belleville West who destroyed a 34-1 Curie team, 70-48, The Condors just came off an impressive comeback victory of Simeon and looked to be unstoppable. Belleville West’s two big men, E.J. Liddell and Keith Randolph dominated the paint and got Curie into foul trouble.

It should be a fascinating championship game of teams with contrasting styles. Evanston is quick, athletic and great shooters. Belleville West is big, athletic and good shooters. My money is on Evanston, but I thought Curie would win so what do I know,

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 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.

2018-2019 IHSA 3A & 4A Girls Championship

Went to Bloomington for the 2018-2019 IHSA 3A and 4A girls championships. The IHSA and Rebird Arena run a nice event. They made it easy to go some good work. The light in that room is as good as I have seen. No issues at all.

I took a lot of pictures and I decided to put them all together. They were originally published in the IL Preps Insider. I 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!

Loyola Throttles Maine South 17-0 in 8A Quarterfinal

It is better to finish strong than start strong. Despite three losses Chicago Catholic League Blue early in the season, the Ramblers looked as dominant on defense Saturday against Maine South as any team I have seen this season.

Make no mistake about it. Maine South is a very good football team. Maine South came back in the second half to beat a very good Mount Carmel team. The Hawks made a believer out of me. Nevertheless, the Ramblers played a flawless game on defense and a brilliantly conservative and physical game on offense to shut out Maine South at Maine South.

Lincoln-Way East will have to go to Wilmette to face the Ramblers. Lincoln-Way has played some tough teams, Crete-Monee, Naperville Central, Thornwood. But they don’t play in the Catholic League’s Blue Division and they did not face Mt. Carmel, Brother Rice and Montini.

I am looking forward to this game. The semi-final should be a very good game.

Which brings me to a second subject—the dominance of the Catholic Schools in the football playoffs this year. In 8A, three of the four surviving teams are Catholic Schools: Brother Rice, Marist and Loyola. 7A has Nazareth and Mt. Carmel. 6A has Notre Dame. 5A has Joliet Catholic and Montini. 4A has Immaculate Conception and Bishop McNamara. 2A has St. Teresa (Decatur, Illinois). That’s eleven of the thirty-two teams. That’s basically 1/3 of all eight classes and half of the biggest classes.

How did this happen? Don’t know. I don’t even want to speculate.

What’s gonna happen? There will be some talk, in the usual quarters, about kicking private schools out of the IHSA. Don’t want to go there either. I’m sure we have all heard quite enough of the multiplier talk.

Personally, I think it will swing back. The DuPage Valley restructured. It will be back. And who knows what is going to happen with the Catholic Super Conference next year.

I am struggling about what to do about the finals. The football finals are the same time as the start of the basketball season. What is a photographer to do?

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. 

Marian Catholic Wins IHSA 3A 3rd Place over North Chicago 58-48

Third Place games never very interesting. I didn't even watch the 4A third place game. I shot this game mostly because I was there. It was a well played game. North Chicago rebounded from its historically poor shooting performance in Friday's semi-final. Marian Catholic made a case for being the second best 3A team.