By Jason Maholy
McDermott, Katie Justin, Brooke Becker, Jessica Coyle, Becca Harkala and Edmiston each had one hit for the Astros.
By Jason Maholy
McDermott, Katie Justin, Brooke Becker, Jessica Coyle, Becca Harkala and Edmiston each had one hit for the Astros.
RedHawks senior earns The Regional-Reporter's player of year honor
By Jason Maholy
There was a moment prior to the start of the 2017-18 basketball season that Morgan Taylor said was “gut-check time” for him and his Marist teammates.
Gone from the team that won 27 games the previous season were graduates Justin Brown and Bobby Hawkinson, who had been the team's top two interior defenders; and reigning East Suburban Catholic League Player of the Year Maurice Commander and Chase Robinson, who transferred to Curie and Riverside-Brookfield, respectively. The RedHawks would also have to integrate into the starting lineup Jack Ellison, a senior transfer from Chicago Christian, who while talented would have to build chemistry with his new teammates.
Taylor, showing the maturity of a young man who had played on the varsity squad since his sophomore season, knew there was nothing he could do about what was lost.
“The only thing I could do, personally, was focus on the team we had here that would be playing this season,” Taylor said. “It was gut-check time as to how we wanted the season to go, and we said we wanted to have one of the best seasons (in Marist history).”
Taylor and his teammates worked to improve their games and chemistry during summer league contests and practices, and once the winter season began devoted themselves to early-morning workouts. Individually, Taylor worked on the holes in his game that limited him during his junior season, and improved on the things he already did do well.
“Free throws, jump shots, defense – it was just working on trying to be the best two way player I had to be for the team to win,” he said. “It was just a lot of effort put in, overall. A lot of long games at the gym over the summer... We knew how much work we'd have to put in to be successful.”
And the RedHawks went on to have one of the best seasons in school history, matching their 27 wins from the prior season and advancing to a Class 4A sectional final, where they came within a couple plays of pulling off what would have been an epic upset of a Simeon team stacked with Division I recruits.
For his contributions – which included standout play and embracing the role of team leader – Taylor is The Regional/Reporter 2018 Player of the Year. The senior guard averaged 21.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.3 steal per game, while shooting 53 percent of his shots from the field and 70 percent from the charity stripe. He earned ESCC co-player of the year honors, and finished his career as Marist's single-season record-holder in points (698) and sixth in career points (1,212).
But Taylor never focused on stuffing the stat box or on his individual accomplishments. His only goal was to help his team win.
“I try to focus on the team, and by doing that I had a lot of personal success, but my main goal was just focusing on the team and doing whatever the team needed,” he said.
The unity he and his teammates forged throughout the season, and the success to which that cohesion contributed, is something he will always cherish.
“Coming into the season we weren't talked about a lot, but we couldn't really focus on that, as a team we made the decision to focus on ourselves and just continued to get better throughout the season, and just have the confidence in each other and show what we could do.”
Taylor has been playing organized basketball since he was 5 years old, and in his earliest days on the hardcourt developed his game playing at the Blue Island Recreation Center. The game had always been his favorite sport, and upon entering high school he realized it was what he wanted to do and at what he wanted to excel.
He did just that, playing on varsity as a sophomore and gaining valuable experience that would pay dividends down the road.
“I had to take something from each year,” he said. “I realized you have to go into games with confidence, and that's something I tried to take with me into my senior year, not taking anything lightly, and knowing it can be done.”
Taylor will leave Marist with the core values instilled into him as a member of the RedHawks, including community, commitment, passion and unselfishness – all of which he has tried to incorporate into his life outside of basketball and will carry with him beyond high school, he said.
“Those are things you learn with a team and learn with other guys, and implement it in your life long after basketball,” he added.
His goal is to play basketball in college, though he does not yet know where he will attend or whether he will play. Montana and Chicago State are among the schools to which he has spoken.
“Basketball is something I really love doing and want to keep doing as much as possible,” he said.
performance in the Class 4A Thornton Sectional title game featured the vexing, tenacious defense they employed all season, only cranked up a notch. It featured an offense that, even as various Wolverines hung on East Suburban Catholic Player of the Year Morgan Taylor like a cape, got the job done so well that Marist held a 10-point lead aftera David Daniels' jam with 9:27 remaining in the game.
in the super-sectional title contest against defending champion Whitney Young, in a rematch of last year's Class 4A championship game? By never getting ruffled by Marist's passionate play. By playing with the quiet assurance and belief that their own brilliance would, at some point, make the difference.
(29-3) rallied to beat the RedHawks by outscoring Marist 26-11 in those last nine-and-a-half minutes. Simeon didn't commit a turnover during that decisive stretch. However resolute Marist had been, Simeon matched their effort – then raised it – proving themselves the top-ranked team in Illinois for at least one more night.
team that bonded in every cliched Hollywood cliche, only in reality.
nine points in his final highs school game. "The practices were fun times. Last year, we had all experienced players. This year, all the players were inexperienced, but the guys stepped in and played their role well. I appreciate these last two years a lot. We tried to set the foundation for the team coming in."
dded Daniels, who finished with 12 points and seven boards in his last game as a RedHawk. "It was pretty much from the start. Some of us didn't know each other, but first practice and right after, we were clicking."
of Taylor, Ellison and Daniels, Marist coach Gene Nolan will really miss. The group's chemistry, and the foundation of a help-out defense that leaned on a 3-2 zone that Simeon took the better part of three quarters to solve, will also be missed.
the Wolverines, paced by Iowa State-bound Talen Horton-Tucker's 17 points, took brief leads of one and then two points in the first half.
s tied at 23 at the intermission and Marist, on baskets by Taylor, Dorion Pendleton (nine points) and Ellison in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the third quarter, again ran out to a lead. The advantage reached 37-27 on the aforementioned Daniels dunk, for which the Marist faithful in Thornton's iconic gym went crazy.
n Simeon coach Robert Smith turned the vise and ordered a press. Between that, a trio of 3-pointers by Kejuan Clements (12 points) and a pair of timely baskets by Messiah Jones helped the Wolverines overcome the deficit and escape.
has faced this season has left the gym saying the same thing.
Marist 61, Homewood-Flossmoor 47
The RedHawks earned their date with Simeon by running over a very good Homewood-Flossmoor team in the sectional semifinals on Wednesday, March 7. Marist's 3-2 zone stymied the Vikings, who turned out to be the scheme's final victim of the 2017-18 season.
id teams this season have so much trouble solving Marist's, which contributed to H-F's 24 turnovers.
3-2," said Jack Ellison, one of the main cogs. "We move guys around, keep flying them around. That's what the coaches emphasize the most. That's what confuses teams a lot. It's just a different look."
and Morgan Taylor had 20, and H-F had no answer for the one-two punch. The Vikings (21-7) had Issac Stanback, who scored 23 points, but no one else hit double figures.
St. Laurence defeated Hyde Park, 56-51, to win the Class 3A Mount Carmel Regional championship.
The Vikings earned their place in the title game by edging the host Caravan, 60-57, in the tournament semifinals. St. Laurence played Morgan Park on Tuesday in a sectional semifinal game in its home gym. The Mustangs are the top-seeded team in the regional.
The Vikings entered Tuesday's contest 20-10 under first-year coach Jim Sexton, after finishing 14-15 a season ago. The 20 victories is the most for the program since the 2006-07 Vikings won 19, and this year's team joins the 2006-7 and 2015-16 teams as the only ones in the past 13 years to finish above .500.
St. Laurence Three-Point Showdown Advancers:St.Laurence junior guards Konrad Kozina Donovan Slater both advanced to the sectional round of the IHSA Three-Point Showdown
After finishing with a perfect record in conference play athe CCAC Tournament, Saint Xavier headlined the All-CCAC Women's Basketball Team with a league-high four honorees on the 2017-18 All-CCAC Team.
Topping the list was senior guard Kara Krolicki, who for the second straight season was named the CCAC's Player of the Year. Krolicki led the conference in scoring by averaging 20 points per game, and was the league leader in steals per game with 3.3.
The reigning NAIA Player of the Year, Krolicki becomes the first back-to-back CCAC Player of the Year since the Cougar's Morgan Stuut accomplished the feat in 2014 and 2015.
Joining Krolicki on the All-CCAC First Team is senior forward Brittany Collins. A second-team selection last season, Collins finished the regular season ranked second in rebounding with 11.4 per game and third in field goal percentage (.617). She was also the NAIA national leader in blocked shots (3.6).
Chanel Fanter and Maddie Welter, a pair of sophomores were namedAll-CCAC Honorable Mentions. Fanter and Welter both started all 31 games of the regular season, and averaged 13.9 and 13.4 points, respectively.
Fanter blocked 71 shots, sixth most in Saint Xavier history, and recorded the program's fourth-ever triple-double when she totaled 17 points, 10 assists, and 10 blocks in a win at Roosevelt on Feb. 7.
Welter hit a team-high 108 3-pointers made, marking the sixth time a Cougar player has recorded over 100 treys in a single season. The sophomore joins Krolicki as the only two players in program history to reach triple digits in multiple seasons.
The honors for Saint Xavier don't end with the players, as Cougar head coach Bob Hallberg was named the CCAC Coach of the Year. It is the second time Hallberg has earned the award since the CCAC's move to a single NAIA division in 2012-13.
The Cougars kick off the postseason today, Thursday, March 8,against Tabor (Kansas) in the first round of the NAIA Division II Women's National Basketball Tournament. Saint Xavier finished the regular season 29-2, 20-0 in the CCAC, and entered their 16th consecutive trip to the national tournament as one of the field's four No. 1 seeds.
Every game in the first three rounds of the tournament will be streamed live online, through the NAIA Network. The national semifinals and championship game will air exclusively on ESPN3.
Area athletes star for SXU
Four are high school products are making an impact for the Saint Xaviermen's volleyball team, and helped the Cougars to a four-set win up the road last week at Illinois Tech.
The Cougars topped the Scarlet Hawks 25-15, 25-17, 23-25, 25-21 on Friday, March 2. Sophomore setter Aaron Kummer (Marist) tallied 39 assists, while libero Brandon McGinnis (Evergreen Park) picking up a match-high 16 assists.
Mike Burcl (Marist) was serving and recorded an ace during a three-serve series when the Cougars closed out the opening set, and Thomas Matonis (Stagg) recorded a key block during the second set.
Moraine Valley Community College’s intercollegiate sports program began in 1976. Forty-two years later, the most influential athletes, coaches and supporters in the school's history have been honored for their contributions as members of the first class of inductees into the Athletics Hall of Fame.
The inaugural inductees are Douglas C. Gehrke, Kay Schneegas, Rosie Geraci, LaVetta Mitchell and Ephraim Eaddy, who all attended the Feb. 15 ceremony with their friends and family.
Gehrke, who came to Moraine as an economics instructor in 1972, was the first athletic director and first men’s basketball coach. The 1972 Cyclones played its first game with players Gehrke found shooting hoops in the gym.
Schneegas was a physical education instructor who taught swimming, archery, cross country skiing, and golf. She came to Moraine in 1970, and when the athletics program started in 1976 became the women’s athletic coordinator. In that role she supervised and coached women’s sports including softball, volleyball and basketball.
Geraci was a standout player and head coach who played softball and volleyball for the Cyclones from 1982 to 1984. She was an All-NJCAA Region IV first team member and All-Conference team in volleyball, and an All-Conference first team selection in softball. She received the Female Athlete of the Year Award and the Douglas C. Gehrke Award for her service and dedication to athletics.
From 1994 to 2000, Geraci was head coach of Moraine Valley softball, leading the team to four conference championships including one undefeated season. Each of those years, she was named Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference Coach of the Year and led her team to the region final four.
Mitchell was on the women’s basketball team that won two straight conference championships and NJCAA Region IV championships in 1988 and 1989, and competed at the national tournament both seasons. She earned a number of honors during her career including an All-American honorable mention.
When Mitchell left Moraine Valley, she held the career scoring record (1,051 points) that was broken during the 2016-17 season. She also held the records for most blocks in a career (379) and game (nine), and still holds the Cyclone record for most career steals (271) is tied for most steals in a season (137). She is the No. 3 rebounder (712) in program history. In the early 2000s, she returned as assistant coach for the women’s basketball team.
Eaddy played on the men’s basketball team from 1996 to 1998 and helped the team to a conference championship and the NJCAA Region IV championship game in 1996. He earned NJCAA Division II All-American honorable mention and nods to the All-Conference, All-NJCAA Region IV first-team and All-Tournament team and was Skyway Conference Player of the Year. He was a two-time Moraine Valley MVP who left as the college’s all-time assist leader (578) and third in career scoring (1,074). Eaddy holds the single-game records for assists (18) and steals (12). He returned to Moraine Valley in the early 2000s as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team.