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.

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.

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 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!”

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.

Day One Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic

I saw three games of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic. I planned to stay there all day. But I can’t seem to ever stay for a whole day of games.

I arrived in time for the second game, Marian Catholic Spartans v. Glenbrook North Spartans. The Glenbrook North Spartans played a spirited first quarter staying with the Marian Catholic on the strength of outside shooting. But it did not take long for the other Spartans to pull away. Marian Catholic excelled in all phases; they shot well, scored off the fast break and played outstanding defense. Final: Marian Catholic 67, Glenbrook North 47.

I didn’t photograph the third game, St. Charles East v. Stevenson. I caught up on preparing for the DePaul (9-1) Prep v. Urban Prep Englewood (0-9) game next.

The DePaul Prep Rams came out a little flat but Perry Cowen added seven in the second quarter and the Rams never looked back. Granted this was not the most serious test for the Rams but this team of seniors just seems to take care of business.

St. Charles East should prove a tougher test for the Rams on Thursday. Assuming they survive this Kane County test, the Rams are likely to face one of their toughest games so far. Marian Catholic is as good as the Rams have faced with the possible exception of Leo.

And then after Marian Catholic, either Lincoln Park, H-F or Oswego East. The Hinsdale Central tournament is tough.

DePaul Prep Defeats Taft 60-15 in Battle of the Bridge

The DePaul Prep Rams played angry. The Rams defeated the Taft High School Eagles 60-15 in the season opener last night in the Tom Wienicki Gym. The game wasn’t as close as the score suggests. 24-2 at the end of the first and 34-5 at the half. Taft played hard; they just ran into talented team that wanted to play hard.

It did not seem to matter who the Rams were playing. They were focused. Not a lot of cheering or congratulations on the lopsided score—just focused, serious business.

Perry Cowen looks like he has added muscle. Sophomore Ty Johnson started the game at point guard and looks a foot taller that the last time I saw him in March. The Rams starting line-up of Cowen, Pantovic, Anthony, Mosley and Johnson is going to give a lot of teams trouble. Shower and Matthews off the bench can keep up the pressure. This team is poised to win a lot of games and make a deep run in 3A.

Based upon the Rams Super 25 rank at #21, Sun-Times Reporter Michael O’Brien sees the Rams obvious talent but doesn’t appear to believe at they have the mental toughness to be a top tier team. City Suburban Hoops Report’s Joe Henricksen does and puts the Rams in that top tier of his rankings at #10. I know it was Taft but last night at least, it looks like the Rams have what it takes.

The season has just begun 30 or so games to play. It will go quick. Stay tuned.

DePaul Prep's Season . . . So Far

With DePaul Prep’s regular season in the home stretch, indulge us in a brief recap and look ahead. With five games to go, the Rams have a 18-4 overall record with quality wins over Notre Dame, Leo, Benet, St. Rita, St. Joseph and Evanston. The four loses have all come at the hands of ranked, or previously ranked, teams, Niles North, St. Rita, Lincoln Park and Loyola.

The Rams dominated opponents in the first part of the season except for the game against highly regarded Niles North. Lance Mosley’s last second three pointer sealed the road victory over Benet Academy. Another very nice road win in the Chicago Catholic League Blue division against the ranked Leo Lions impressed fans and critics alike.

Next came the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic where the Rams scored wins over Crete-Monee and Stevenson. In what had to be the Rams worst game of the year, DePaul did not look good at all against St. Rita—a painful loss to eventual tournament champion. Next was a close loss to a hot Lincoln Park team in the consolation game (which pretty much does not count because it was a tournament consolation game).

The third phase of the season was the Martin Luther King Day tournament with some non-conference games sprinkled in. The Rams won the MLK Tournament with wins over St. Francis (Wheaton), Lindbloom, Riverside-Brookfield and Loyola.

The Rams scored a big CCL rematch win at St. Rita and took care of a very good St. Ignatius team next. The head scratch game of the year was Loyola. Just could not get a shot to drop against a red-hot Loyola team. Another head-scratcher at St. Joseph with only 10 points in the second half saved by a long gaming three-pointer from Raheem Anthony and brought home a key CCL Blue game.

An invitation to Joe Henrickson’s “When Sides Collide” Shootout brought a match-up with Evanston. The Rams scored another season defining 59-52 win over the Wildkits. Perry Cowen putting two 20 plus point totals up in two games.

Looking ahead a little, the Rams have games left against Fenwick, Brother Rice and DeLaSalle in the CCL Blue plus a CCL White crossover game against Montini. Fenwick can take the CCL Blue with two road wins against DePaul and Loyola. Fenwick travels to DePaul this coming Friday and Loyola on February 26th. If Fenwick falls to one of those teams, we may be looking a three way tie between Fenwick, DePaul and Loyola in the Blue.

Don’t hold your breath, Fenwick is ranked 7th and has looked good against the area’s top teams despite suffering some losses. The DePaul/Fenwick is Friday at DePaul. It will be a special night at DePaul’s Tom Winiecki Gym because DePaul is retiring current head coach, former Gordon Tech star and former DePaul University All American Tom Kleinschmidt’s #34. Coach Kleinschmidt enters the game with a 108-59 win/loss record at Gordon Tech/DePaul over the last six seasons.

I know it is bad luck but let’s look ahead to the IHSA playoffs. DePaul Prep elected to move up to 3A where they have been assigned to North Chicago Sectional in the Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional. The Rams avoided the Joliet Central Super-Sectional with the other ranked teams in 3A. There are no Sun-Times Super 25 ranked teams in Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional. Other than DePaul, the best team is probably Carmel, a lesser light in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. DePaul also has the advantage of hosting a regional again this year.

There are some good teams in 3A has ranked teams. Morgan Park, North Lawndale, Hillcrest, Marian Catholic are all ranked. Previously, ranked teams include St. Laurence, St. Rita.

In terms of downstate 3A teams, MaxPreps has Champaign Central, Springfield Southeast and Centralia all ranked ahead of DePaul Prep. But none of those teams are in the Hoffman Estates Super-sectional. In fact, the highest MaxPreps ranked team in the Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional is Carmel ranked #18 in 3A and #78 in the state.

So, here is what’s left to do: take care of Fenwick, win the Catholic League Blue, win the home regional, win the North Chicago Sectional, win the Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional at the Sears Centre, go to Peoria, beat Marian Catholic, Morgan Park and/or Champaign Central and collect state championship trophy. See how easy that is?

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