The rise of analytics in high school basketball

By Eric Burgher Wearing a gold jersey and gold shorts, Nojel Eastern stood out at a recent Evanston High School basketball practice. And not just because the senior and future Purdue Boilermaker is an ESPN Top 100 recruit. While the rest of the team was dressed in the Wildkits’ black and orange practice uniforms, Eastern […]

The path least taken


By Karl Bullock As a scrawny 15-year-old freshman in 2013, Rafael Cruz Jr. sauntered up to Von Steuben basketball coach Marvin Williams with confidence. “I told him I was going to play varsity, and he just laughed at me,” Cruz said as he stretched his arms out on his living room couch with a slight […]

Northwestern’s dance with basketball history

Northwestern men's basketball practice

By Mark Singer Standing in the same arena of his final high school game some 25 years ago,  Chris Collins can’t help but smile when he considers the success of his current team. The rollicking atmosphere at Welsh-Ryan Arena these days, unthinkable until a few months ago, brings the Northwestern coach back to 1992 when […]

Long wait, slow start: Senn falls short in return trip to playoffs

After eight years of anticipation for this moment, the boys’ basketball team’s first playoff game in nearly a decade, the Senn Bulldogs had to wait another 40 minutes. Marine Academy arrived at Senn at 5 p.m. for a 4:30 tip. Ultimately, though, it was the home team that was slow to show up. Senn trailed early in the first half and never recovered, falling 82-69 Wednesday evening in the first of three playoff games in the Blue North conference. First-year Senn coach Terrell Walsh worried in Tuesday’s practice the players wouldn’t be ready at game time, and his fears were realized when Marine (10-11) went up by 13 midway through the second quarter. “They’ve never made the playoffs, so this is what they do,” Walsh said of his players after the loss. “All season we’ve this been telling them the same thing over and over and they just don’t realize it, so is what happens.” Slow starts have plagued Senn (10-4) throughout the season. Starting point guard Noah Chapman said the team was ready to play, but the group just couldn’t recover after falling behind. “We weren’t nervous,” Chapman said. “We just came out slow, which we always do.” His coach says otherwise. “Yeah, I think they were nervous,” Walsh said. “It is what it is.” Nervous or not, Senn was rattled by the hot hand of Marine’s KeyAndre Spann. The shooting guard scored 18 of his team’s first 22 points and finished with a game-high 27. “We started off slow, and [Spann] hit a couple of shots. He killed us,” Senn assistant coach Marcus Riley said. Riley said the team shouldn’t have been nervous since they were playing at Senn, but it hardly felt like a home game at times. A small group of Marine supporters regularly drowned out any noise by the approximately 60 Senn fans that attended the game. Even though he had a full roster to work with, Walsh stuck to a six-man rotation for the duration of the game. Senn beat Marine less than a month ago with a similar strategy, but Marine Academy simply buried the Bulldogs with 13 made three-pointers. The Bulldogs have two more chances left in pool play to prove they belong in the playoffs. Despite the rough start, Walsh sees his team making it out of pool play, which takes point differential into account. “We have to a blow team out to get back in it,” he said. “I believe it’s going to work in our favor. … We still got two more games. It’s the playoffs. Anything can happen.”

By Mark Singer After eight years of anticipation for this moment, the boys’ basketball team’s first playoff game in nearly a decade, the Senn Bulldogs had to wait another 40 minutes. Marine Academy arrived at Senn at 5 p.m. for a 4:30 tip. Ultimately, though, it was the home team that was slow to show […]

War on the Shore showcases basketball, epilepsy awareness

By Eric Burgher Six of the top high school basketball teams in the Chicago area competed this weekend, but the focus of the day was off the floor as the Danny Did Foundation raised just over $3,300 for epilepsy awareness. The 7th Annual “War on the Shore” at Evanston High School was the foundation’s most […]

Junior college transfer finding success at Loyola

Aundre Jackson warms up before a game against Bradley

By Elan Kane Shawn Trochim, the McLennan (Tex.) Community College athletic director, called men’s basketball coach Kevin Gill one day to talk about the actions of forward Aundre Jackson. But Jackson was not in trouble. Far from it. Trochim had just received a call about how Jackson and a few of his teammates had helped […]

Steep learning curve but high ceiling for young New Trier star

By Eric Burgher Word had gotten around about a 12-year-old hockey player from Glencoe, who at 6-foot-5, was growing out of his pads. Ciaran Brayboy, who had been skating since he was four and playing hockey since kindergarten, grew up on the ice. But as he approached his teenage years, Brayboy started to see signs […]

Captain Clutch: Evans bringing confidence to Ramblers

Loyola Academy 2

By Andres Waters Just seconds after the crowd erupted, Loyola Academy’s gym instantly fell silent as senior captain Ramar Evans stepped to the free-throw line to shoot a 1-and-1. Down by two with four seconds left in the fourth quarter, it was all up to him. Evans had struggled to find his rhythm all night, […]

The man who found a new way to look at high school basketball rankings

By Eric Burgher For Charlie Essig, it has always been about the numbers. After working 42 years as an engineer, he transferred his mathematical expertise to his passion project, the Essig Report, a computer program he devised measuring the comparative strength of high school teams in Illinois based on game performances versus strength of schedule. […]

Doyle, Jackson lead Loyola past Missouri State

Loyola sophomore guard Clayton Custer plays defense against a Missouri State player

By Elan Kane Loyola coach Porter Moser did not even realize it had happened until he was asked about it after the game. “That was a six-point play?” Moser said during his postgame press conference. “Yeah, let’s just call that a big segment right there.”