Prep beat

MIKE NIETO: Another interesting prep season comes to an end

2014-06-19T20:00:00Z 2014-06-23T21:29:15Z MIKE NIETO: Another interesting prep season comes to an endMike Nieto Prep Beat
June 19, 2014 8:00 pm  • 

It's time to take a break, bring out the fishing poles, relax and reminisce about the 2013-14 prep season.

Four schools won team titles and five individuals in four sports won state titles as well. A couple of others came close.

There were some ugly moments and we found out not all basketball games are played or fought on the court.

The Washington boys soccer team won a Class 2A state title as it brought pride to the Chicago's East Side and Hegewisch communities. Coach Alvaro Perez was beaming with pride as he and the Minutemen brought the state title trophy to 114th and Avenue O.

There was Mount Carmel's football team, which may be the program's best ever, which is saying a lot. The Caravan won the program's 12th state title and coach Frank Lenti's 11th. This year, Mount Carmel won the Class 7A title and became the first school to win state titles in four different classes. The Caravan won the Class 8A title in 2012. I am not sure if the school gets credit for 19.8 state titles if you were to throw in the Illinois High School Association's 1.65 multiplier enrollment rule for non-boundaried schools.

The T.F. South badminton team has its own dynasty as it won its second straight state title and the doubles team of Cassie Breshock and Jenna Pasko won the doubles state title. That team was a lot of fun to cover and coach Bob Tengstrand and his staff are totally committed to the sport. Badminton is the only school's only sport to win two state titles.

Illinois Lutheran's baseball team closed out the prep season with a great run, taking the Class 1A state title with a 12-2, six-inning win over Webber in Peoria. Coach Mark Kjenstand, wife Jessica and son Ryen left the next day for the Philippines to adopt their newest addition — daughter Reah.

The story which played outside the athletic venue was the Homewood-Flossmoor girls basketball team. Lawsuits and the IHSA barring the team from the state tournament for offseason open-gym violations, as well as suspending coach Tony Smith made for a messy situation. Smith was fired in April, then hired back when the IHSA lifted his suspension. The boys team was almost suspended, but was saved at the last minute and went on to win a regional title. Later, coach Jim McLaughlin stepped down. I will miss Mac. He is a class guy.

Another ugly incident occurred in December when a Seton Academy boys basketball player punched a Leo basketball player in the closing seconds of a close game.

Let's not forget the individual feats of Mount Carmel wrestler Bryce Brill, Thornwood wrestler Kris Williams and Marian diver Joey Cifelli.

Brill went undefeated and did not give up a single offensive point in winning the Class 3A 152-pound title. It was his second straight and third in four years for the Northwestern recruit. Williams, who transferred from Thornton, won his third straight 3A title as he won the 120-pound title and went 20-0. Cifelli won the state diving title.

The Illiana Christian boys cross country team took second in Class 2A. We also had some great track performances, including the Illiana 3,200-meter relay team breaking the Class 2A record with a time of 7 minutes, 46.38 seconds.

And let's not forget Kentucky basketball recruit in Marian Catholic's Tyler Ulis, who was The Times Player of the Year for the second straight year. The McDonald's All-American and the Spartans put on a great show.

This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at

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