44 | February 16, 2017 | The Homer Horizon sports homerhorizon.com Hockey Providence sweeps St. Rita in Kennedy Cup semis Brittany Kapa, Assistant Editor St. Rita’s fan section came in strong, loud and like a scene from “Braveheart,” complete with blue face paint. The team’s fans would leave quieter and much more reserved than they entered. On Thursday, Feb. 9, No. 1-seeded Providence took on the No. 4-seeded St. Rita in the semifinal round of the Kennedy Cup series. St. Rita hosted Providence at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood for the second game of the series. Providence proved victorious by the end of the night with a 2-0 win and swept the series with back-to-back shutouts. Ryan Iaciancio kept his undefeated streak alive in the Chicago Catholic Hockey League with a 25-save performance en route to the team’s victory. “I knew it was an elimination game for them, so I knew that they were going to bring everything that they had,” Iaciancio said. “We prepared, we knew what they had coming in. Our defense played great and helped me get the shutout.” Iaciancio finished the game with a few memorable saves, one of which had him well out of the safety of the blue paint. Senior forward Josh Mooncotch scored the lone regular strength goal with 2:10 left in the second period. Mooncotch was fed a pass from Jake Vennetti that got St. Rita’s goalie moving and allowed enough space for Mooncotch to bury the puck in the net off of a quick wrist shot. Jake Rott picked up the secondary assist on that play. Mooncotch cited Iaciancio’s performance as one of the main reasons his team was so successful during the night. Providence’s Mike Massaro, a senior forward from Homer Glen, skates during his team’s 2-0 win over St. Rita in the semifinal of the Kennedy Cup Thursday, Feb. 9, at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood. Julie McMann/22nd Century Media “He stood on his head,” Mooncotch said. “He’s been playing great the last two games. He kept us in and had two shutouts.” Providence’s second goal came at the very end of the third period after St. Rita had pulled goalie Mike Iwaniec in an attempt to even up the score. Kevin Horan made sure that did not happen with a buzzer-beater goal into St. Rita’s empty net with less than a second to go. A common theme throughout the night for Providence was the team’s aggressiveness on the puck, along with the team’s willingness to make good plays. Defensively, Jake Lawler was able to keep Providence’s offensive zone time up with a series of good keeps at the blue line. “We try and be as aggressive as we can, and if you get beat, we’re at least going to make you make a great play to beat us,” coach Nick Iaciancio said. “Sometimes, we have a tendency to go too hard and lose our discipline in there.” The team’s aggressiveness did result in four penalties throughout the game. Despite being a man short, the team was always able to have control of the game and the situation. Mooncotch was called on a crosscheck violation during the second period, and Providence was able to keep St. Rita from even getting a shot on net. “Our fourth line dominated play for a good portion of the time, which was a huge leg [up] for us to give everyone else a break, especially when you’re killing penalties,” Nick said of the team’s multiple successful penalty kills. Nick said he does not generally like to assign numbers to his lines, but he cited that Cole Kaup, Cam Cutler and Shane Horan were all essential in the success of killing those penalties. The team celebrated their victory after the game but knows that their next challenge looms ahead. Providence is preparing to take on Fenwick in the Kennedy Cup finals, and no one wants to lose focus before then. “We know we’re playing Fenwick in the finals, and we know they’re going to bring everything they have,” Ryan said. “They haven’t beaten us this year. Our last game was pretty close; we know that this final, anything can happen, so we have to bring our ‘A’ game.” Lockport basketball player draws inspiration from father Elder Travis teaches son of history playing for the Porters Randy Whalen Freelance Reporter It was Dec. 19, and Chase Travis was talking to his dad about basketball. The current Lockport Township senior forward was getting pretty spirited in the conversation. “We were talking about the [Joliet Catholic Academy] game [a 51-47 overtime win Dec. 17 before an alumni night crowd at Lockport Central], and I told him that in his prime and my prime I could beat him,” Chase Travis said. “He said, ‘we’ll see,’ and he popped in a DVD of the game.” Travis’ dad is not any father, and the game he popped in on DVD was not any game. The elder Travis is Chuck Travis, who any old-time Lockport basketball backer will immediately know. That is because all the elder Travis did during his four years as a varsity player for the Porters between 1976- 1980 was help guide them to a record of 110-9 in that span. He was an All-State player as a senior. The game that the two watched was not just any game. It was a 64-47 victory Chase Travis puts up a shot during a game against Plainfield North earlier this season. 22nd Century Media File Photo over an Isiah Thomas-led St. Joseph team that capped an undefeated Class AA state championship season. Chuck Travis was a starting guard as a sophomore on that team. “I tried to show it to him when he was younger,” Chuck Travis said of the state championship game. “But he didn’t have the focus then. [Now], I think he was impressed.” The younger Travis was, but he also saw how the game was different nearly 40 years ago. “[Chuck] talked about what they went through back then and how they developed the chemistry they had,” Chase said. “But I also watched how they moved. I never understood how a team could go playing a 1-3-1 defense all season, but they did. “But I also watched how they used each other, and they were tough on each other. He’d also tell me about there practices back then and how they were tough.” Before this season, the father and son duo often talked basketball. One thing that has brought them closer this season, however, is that Chase is now playing for the same school his dad did at Lockport. Before this season, he was at Hinsdale South, where he was a varsity player as a sophomore and junior. “His older brother, Eric, was a four-year varsity player at Hinsdale South,” Chuck said. “Chase was there, too, but things change, and he came here. I’m real proud of him, and his grades are good.” The youngest Travis is happy to be at Lockport, Please see travis, 43
homerhorizon.com sports the Homer Horizon | February 16, 2017 | 45 Homer Glen man bowls perfect 900 series in Lockport Becomes only second bowler in Illinois, 32nd in country to achieve mark Erin Redmond, Assistant Editor Strike and Spare II was packed with bowlers Feb. 3, yet it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop — 10 of them, actually. The silence was deafening for 26-year-old Sam Esposito as he stepped up the lane for his 36th and final frame. With two perfect games under his belt already — and the series of “Xs” lighting up the monitor overhead — he took a deep breath, reeled back and, to his horror, watched his ball veer slightly right. But the bowling gods smiled upon him, and his ball curved back to hit dead on for the strike, causing him to fall to the ground in celebration and relief. That final strike made Espinosa just the second person in Illinois and the 32nd in the country to bowl three consecutive perfect games for a 900 series, according to the United Stated Bowling Congress. “You know all those eyes are looking at you, and you’re just trying not to mess up,” the Homer Glen resident said. “The 36th one for 900 was ... one that I was really worried about because I got it a little right off my hand, and I was lucky enough that it came back, and it struck, and it carried.” With the ever-changing lane conditions, Strike and Spare II General Manager Mike Gorman said it takes talent — and a dash of luck — to achieve what Esposito did. He said he was thrilled to have a historic event occur in his bowling alley and that Esposito was the one to do it. “It’s a rare occurance, and we’ll probably never see it again in this bowling alley,” Gorman said. “It’s unbelievable, really. You’ve got guys that are shooting 800 series and that’s rare air, but to shoot a Homer Glen resident Sam Esposito poses for a picture after bowling a perfect 900 series Feb. 3 at Strike and Spare II in Lockport. Photo submitted 900, that’s amazing. It happened to a great kid; it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” But Esposito’s perfect night almost did not happen at all. After being swamped at work that Friday, he did not think he would make it to the alley on time for the start of his Friday night league. He caught a lucky break, however, and was even able to squeeze in a few practice shots before kicking off what he thought would be a routine night of bowling. Esposito, who has been bowling since he was 12, already held two sanctioned 300 games prior to his 900 series, but he had struggled to repeat perfection in recent years. So when he was closing in on his first 300 game of the night, he had to tell himself to keep calm. “Probably about the eighth or ninth frame of the first game, I looked up and I had all strikes; it was like, ‘Don’t screw up again on 300,’” Esposito recalled. “After the first one, I just started bowling the second game and started to chit chat. I looked up again, and it was eighth or ninth frame again, and I was like, ‘Am I going to do this twice in the same night?’ “After I got the second one, I was like, ‘Let’s just get the first couple and just shake some of the nerves.’ From there, every time I threw the ball and it struck, I just took a deep breathe and just said, ‘Thank God.’” While bowling a 900 series was always a goal for Esposito, he never believed it would happen. In fact, he and his buddy once joked they would retire from the sport if it ever happened, but Esposito said he is not ready to hang up his bowling shoes just yet. Esposito is not expecting to bowl a 900 series again anytime soon, but he was hoping to tally at least 600 pins at his next league game, but he might need someone to pinch him first. “I can’t believe it,” Esposito said. “I never thought it would happen. I’m still actually waiting to wake up from a dream. I’m still on cloud nine.” Girls basketball Lockport plays with heart, energy in final regular season game Seven seniors thanked, applauded prior to loss against Griffins Randy Whalen, Freelance Reporter As far as a game goes, last week’s matchup between Lincoln-Way East and Lockport Township will not be put in a time capsule. In the last regular season game for both teams, East emerged victorious with a 38-28 win over the Porters in a SouthWest Suburban Blue matchup before a senior night crowd Feb. 7 at LTHS’s Central Campus. While the Griffins (18-10, 7-3) missed too many shots and Lockport (16-12, 4-6) turned the ball over too many times, both teams took something out of the game. East reached the 18-win mark for the 10th straight season and hopes to reach 20 victories for the ninth time in that span with another regional title as the Class 4A playoffs open this week. “A win is a win,” East senior guard Sam Nair said. “We all have off nights. We have time off [until the regional], and we just have to keep practicing and work hard. We have to tighten things up.” East shot 16-of-51 (31 percent) from the field and 3-of-8 (38 percent) from the line in the game. Griffins coach Jim Martin chalked it up to “one of those nights”. “It was just one of those things,” Martin said of his team’s shooting. “We didn’t shoot well in our last two games [including a 56-37 loss to Marist Feb. 4]. We’ve got to get better and put the ball in the hole.” Junior guard Carolyn Waleski (11 points), Nair (10 points) and senior forward Anna Power (9 points) led East, which jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter and led the entire way. Ahead 8-5 after the first quarter, Waleski scored six points in the second quarter, and the Griffins led 20-11 at halftime. Nair scored five points in the third quarter, including a layup for a 31-17 lead with 3:20 left. The Griffins led 31-21 after three. Lockport committed 30 of its 37 turnovers in the first three quarters. Power scored on a layup with 6:09 to play for a 38-23 lead. But East, which committed eight of its 17 turnovers in the fourth quarter, did not score again. Lockport lost to the Griffins 52- 51 Jan. 17 in the teams’ first meeting this season. The Porters are guaranteed to finish with at least their most wins since going 16-11 in the 2010-2011 season. But they also wanted to advance to a regional title game for the first time in a decade this week. “I was proud of how everyone played and showed how much they care about each other,” Lockport coach Dan Kelly said. “That’s one of our core values, and it was great to see everyone sacrifice for each other. “I don’t care what the scoreboard said [last week against East]. We were winners.” Before the game, the Porters honored their seven seniors: Melissa Calvo, Kayla Janssen, Madalyn Kennedy, Laurel Kucharski, Hailey Ledbetter, Kaleigh Schmutzler and Elena Woulfe. But even after the seniors were honored, the team made a special presentation to Kucharski, who was on the varsity all four years. “Laurel sacrificed a starting position, and they wanted to thank her for everything,” said Kelly, who started an all-senior lineup. “I was proud of the energy we brought.” Kucharski, who has committed to play next season at the University of Mary in North Dakota and missed a month this season with strained ligaments in her right thumb, was surprised at the gesture. “They gave me some flowers, and I didn’t expect that,” Kucharski said. “That was really nice. We all wanted the seniors to get in, and coach [Kelly] said how we wanted everyone to play.” Five of the Porter seniors started and played most of the first quarter. Five of them ended up scoring, including Schmutzler, Janssen, Kennedy and Ledbetter in the fourth quarter. Kucharski (8 points, 7 rebounds) led the Porters. “Dan does a great job, and it was a special night for their seniors,” Martin said. “[Kelly] has turned it around here.” Lockport is the No. 10 seed in the Aurora East Sectional. The Porters played host to No. 7-seeded Plainfield East Tuesday, Feb. 14. If Lockport won that contest, it would likely play No. 2-seeded Oswego East Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. for the regional title.