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The Mokena Messenger 041218

44 | April 12, 2018 |

44 | April 12, 2018 | The Mokena Messenger sports BASEBALL Lockport Sectional loaded with area teams JEFF VORVA Contributing Editor Providence Catholic’s unprecedented baseball title reign ended last year when Sandburg knocked the Celtics off at the Class 4A Homewood-Flossmoor Sectional. The Celtics had a postseason 23-game winning streak snapped. They had won three consecutive state titles, which had never been done before in the history of the Illinois High School Association. If the Celtics want to win another state title in 2018, they have a rough road, which includes many area teams standing in the way. The IHSA announced its assignments and the Celtics plus six other 22nd Century Media teams will duke it out in the 21-team Lockport Sectional. Lockport, Lincoln-Way East,Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way West, Sandburg and Andrew are also in the mix. Providence is the only area team that will lost a regional. Other teams in the sectional are Eisenhower, Marist, Bloom, Marian, Crete-Monee, Homewood- Flossmoor, Thornton, Joliet Central, Joliet West, Thornton Fractional South, Shepard, Stagg, Romeoville and Thornwood. In the April 2 edition of the Prep Baseball Report state rankings, six teams from the Lockport Sectional are in the top 25. Lincoln-Way East was ranked sixth, Andrew 13th, Lockport 14th, Sandburg 17th, Providence 22nd and Marist 25th. That means at least two of those teams will not win one of the four regional titles. In Class 3A, Tinley Park is in the 10-team sub-sectional of the Ottawa Sectional. The Titans are joined by Thornton Fractional North, Chicago Agricultural Science, Morgan Park, Hillcrest, Evergreen Park, Illiana Christian, Lemont, Bremen and Oak Forest. Seeds will be announced on May 8. The regionals begin May 21 and the state finals are June 8-9. RIGHT: Lincoln-Way East was ranked sixth in the April 2 edition of the Prep Baseball Report state rankings. 22nd Century Media file photo SOFTBALL Local squads aiming for postseason success JEFF VORVA, Contributing Editor Lincoln-Way East’s softball team dominated regional and sectional action en route to a second-place finish in Illinois High School Association Class 4A state tournament in 2017. East outscored Thornton Fractional South, Minooka, Joliet West and Lockport by a combined score of 26-3. Will the Griffins be able to breeze in the early part of the postseason again? The other teams in the 19- team Joliet West Sectional will have something to say about that. The Griffins will join 22nd Century Media-area teams Lockport, Lincoln- Way Central, Lincoln-Way West and Andrew in that sectional. Others in the tournament are Bolingbrook, Bloom, Crete-Monee, Homewood- Flossmoor, Thornton, Joliet Central, Joliet West, Thornton Fractional South, Minooka, Plainfield Central, Plainfield East, Plainfield South, Romeoville and Thornwood. Sandburg is heading to a 19-team sectional that does not have a host yet. Other teams in that sectional are Morton, Eisenhower, Reavis, Curie, Kelly, Kennedy, Marist, Mother McAuley, Hinsdale South, Proviso West, Hinsdale Central, Lyons, Oak Lawn, Richards, Shepard, Stagg, Riverside- Brookfield and Argo. In Class 3A, Providence Catholic and Tinley Park are in a sub-sectional at the 20- team Ottawa Sectional. Other teams in the subsectional are Coal City, Hillcrest, Joliet Catholic Academy, LaSalle-Peru, Morris, Ottawa, Plano and Sandwich. Seeds will be announced on May 8. The regionals begin May 21 and the state finals are June 8-9. RIGHT: Lincoln-Way Central will face some tough opponents in the 19-team Joliet West Sectional, including cross-town rivals Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West. 22nd Century Media file photo sports the Mokena Messenger | April 12, 2018 | 45 Outside hitters lead way for Knights over Titans RANDY WHALEN Freelance Reporter Already a varsity veteran of three years for the Lincoln-Way Central boys volleyball team, junior outside hitter Jack Yurkanin usually lets his play do the talking. Yurkanin did that as he teamed up with senior outside hitter Garrett McCrea to combine for 21 kills and three aces last week as Central closed a short stretch of matches with a 25-21, 25- 21 victory over Glenbrook South on April 4 in New Lenox. Senior setter Aidan Mc- Guire (23 assists) and junior libero Sebastian Olmos (5 digs) also pitched in for the Knights (8-5), who rebounded from a three-set loss the day before. “We’re a rowdy bunch who really wants to win,” Yurkanin said. “There’s a lot of energy on this team.” While off the court, Yurkanin is pretty laid back. But on the court, watch out. “He’s our most passive kid,” Central coach Mary Brown said of Yurkanin. “Until he goes up to put the ball down.” In the opener, Yurkanin had a half dozen of his 10 kills, including the set winner. That helped the Knights to never trail in the first set. The score was tied just once, at 3-3. Then McCrea (11 kills, ace) and senior middle hitter Joe Claffy put down back-to-back kills in a 4-0 run that put Central ahead for good. Leading 8-7, the Knights had a 7-2 spurt to take charge. An ace by Mc- Crea gave them a 24-17 lead. Glenbrook South (0-2) saved four set points. But Yurkanin yelped a kill to end the opener. “We’re still figuring out some stuff, but I think we have a good road ahead of us,” Yurkanin said. “I thought that we played pretty well, and I think we’re getting better this year. I want to see us play the top-tier teams as best as we can. We lost several seniors from last year, but we have a lot of players who are coming back and are filling in the spots.” The Titans, who played only their second match of the season, raced out to a 5-0 lead in the second set. But Central responded with five straight points of its own to tie it and only trailed one more time (6-5) after that. The score was tied 13-13 when junior middle hitter Brendan McCarthy and junior outside hitter Aidan Heniff got kills to end a 3-point burst that gave the Knights the lead for good. The Titans never got closer than two points the Lincoln-Way Central’s libero Sebastian Olmos sets one for his teammates April 4 against Glenbrook South. Photos by Julie McMann/22nd Century Media rest of the way. A Yurkanin kill made it 24-20 and, after a side out, McCarthy mashed a kill to end it. Junior outside hitter Stephen Daus (4 kills) and junior middle hitter Jack Shampine (3 kills, block) led theTitans. A year ago Central finished 28-10 and won its third regional title in four years and ninth since 2004. But eight players graduated from that team, meaning the Knights had to reload for this season. “I’m really proud of our team since we have a lot of young kids who are coming up who were sophomores last year,” McCrea said. “’We were nervous coming into the season, so we didn’t start out that strong, but we’re getting better and better in each [match]. “Even though we have a really hard sectional at Brother Rice, I think as we go through the season that we’ll be able to fix all of our errors. We’re a really hardworking bunch, and we really bust our butts in practice day in and day out. We have lots of fire and have a chip on our shoulders.” The lineup changes have worked though. “Last year, I had to take the libero and make him the setter, and I had to do that again this year,” said Brown of Mc- Guire stepping into that role. “He was good enough and said he wanted to try it and played club as a setter, and he’s coming around. It’s just a little scary since we have to run a fast offense, and the timing has to be perfect. “The key is obviously our two outside hitters [Yurkanin and McCrea], who are The Knights Jack Yurkanin gets up for a serve. Yurkanin finished with 10 kills, including the set winner in the first set. our spark plugs. I was pleasantly surprised as to how the guys progressed this year. The thing that I’m still working on is putting the puzzle together, since we still really don’t have a set lineup. We play really well and then lack the focus and tend to get a lot of unforced errors in a row. I knew that it was going to be a work in progress. I just hope that we can figure it out soon because once the season starts, it goes fast.” BASKETBALL From Page 47 in a game, which was a new school record, too. “It’s always a goal to do the best I could,” Waleski said of the records. “When I was close to the steals record [for a game], coach [assistant coach and former North head coach Jim] Nair told me I was two away from the record. I didn’t set out to get that, it was more of a being in the moment goal. I also had the records for steals at North. I believe that was nine in a game and 123 in a season.” In this recently completed campaign, East (28-5) set a school record for most wins in a season. The Griffins also advanced to the sectional title game for the third time in their 17-year history. But they fell to host Mother McAuley in the title game. “Carolyn was the catalyst for this year’s team,” Martin said. “She led the way to a school-record 28 wins and set school records with 11 steals in a game and 132 in a season. She is one of the best athletes we have had here at East. Her quickness and anticipation of where the ball is going makes her an extra special player.” Waleski, who has a 4.916 GPA and scored a 1270 on her SAT test, will attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a preferred walk-on in the basketball program and major in engineering. “I had a lot of other programs offer me, but there was no program that could beat Illinois in engineering,” Waleski said. “So going there is for academics. But I certainly believe I can play with those girls. I knew I wanted to go there the first time I went to visit there. I had other opportunities, but my heart pushed me there.” Her heart will also never forget her time at Lincoln- Way North and East. “Just all the relationships and friendships I’ve made,” Waleski said of what she would remember from high school. “We got to play in front of some huge crowds in the sectional. I was super happy to be part of [setting the record for most wins in a season]. I’ll miss everyone.”