Latest news from The Southtown Star Online en-us Wed, 28 Jul 2010 14:10:16 PDT Southtown Star logo 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Two Southland athletic directors to leave lasting legacy ]]> Lead story image

As fellow athletic directors and best friends, Andrew’s Rich Piatchek and Stagg’s Bob Fabrizio have had their share of debates over the years. One thing they’ve never argued about, however, is who is the better golfer. “Mr. Piatchek is undefeated in any type of golf against me,” Fabrizio said. “I’m dangerous. There isn’t a course I can’t hit a ball out of it.” “Bob doesn’t keep score,” Piatchek said, laughing. “Therefore it’s easy. Winning isn’t important to him. He plays for the fun of it.” For a combined 78 years, they’ve done their jobs for the love of it. At … ]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:56:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Former Richards standout Brianna LeBeau making big impact for Northwestern softball ]]> Lead story image

When you’re talking the caliber of players and people who the three sisters are, to say Brianna LeBeau is the best of the bunch is really a relative statement. She, Amanda and Brittany LeBeau all left indelible, positive marks on Richards High School as both athletes and students. But I will say those whispers in the spring of 2008 that, “This last one, Brianna, when she comes in to play softball she’s going to take it to another level,” weren’t off the mark. Today, Brianna LeBeau is having an amazing spring as a sophomore at Northwestern. Through Thursday, she was … ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 02:12:51 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Bad weather for softball? Teams take it indoors ]]> Lead story image

Nostradamus hasn’t got anything on Julie Folliard. Almost a month ago, the Richards coach had a feeling that between the almost nonstop bone-chilling winter temperatures and the constant barrage of snow, the softball season was going to have a difficult time getting started. “We actually went out and shoveled our infield on a Saturday,” Folliard said. “There was still snow in the outfield and huge drifts in front of our dugouts. We couldn’t access our dugouts. “We got out and cleared it. At that point I started thinking, ‘OK, If it doesn’t snow anymore we might be able to get … ]]> Tue, 01 Apr 2014 02:11:42 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Closing the book on the 2013-14 girls basketball season ]]> Lead story image

Two weeks ago we saluted the state-worthy efforts of Marian Catholic and Joliet Catholic. Here are a few more final thoughts about a sometimes crazy, but competitive 2013-14 girls basketball season: The surprise team  that shouldn’t have been Really, what was I thinking for not ranking Oak Lawn in my preseason Top 10? The Spartans had plenty of returning talent, including one of the best guards in the state in LaTondra Brooks. I came around a lot quicker than most, who kept insisting an easy schedule was the real reason that they were 25-1 going into the state playoffs. Beating … ]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:42:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Super feeling for these three ]]> Lead story image

Marian Catholic will be trying to repeat the magic. Joliet Catholic, to make history. De La Salle, to pull off a miracle. There are no guarantees. That’s pretty much what your humble girls hoops observer sees when he looks at the prospects for our three Southland teams in their respective supersectionals on Monday. Marian Catholic (26-4) is making a return trip to Illinois Wesleyan, where a year ago it rolled to a 56-37 victory over Peoria Richwoods en route to the Class 4A state title. This time the opponent is Edwardsville, which has been nearly perfect in roaring to a … ]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:15:29 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: A Ray of sunshine after four knee surgeries ]]> Lead story image

Kaitlyn Ray is celebrating an anniversary Tuesday. On Feb. 25, 2013, the New Lenox native underwent knee surgery for the fourth time since she was a junior at Lincoln-Way West. Imagine having four anniversaries for something like that when you’re only 21 years of age. Ray doesn’t dwell on it. She’s too busy moving forward — something that has taken every bit of mettle she has in her 5-foot-8 frame. The best part of this story is that Ray is about to finish the basketball season on the court for the University of St. Francis. It’s the first time she’s … ]]> Tue, 25 Mar 2014 06:21:37 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: The hole story: Makalia Brown is Mother McAuley’s finest golfer ]]> Lead story image

The distance was 30 feet. The slope was steep. Her dad was holding the pin at the top of the hill. Makalia Brown wasn’t sure she could even get the ball close so that her dad could tap it in. “When I hit it,” she recalled, “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is too fast.’ ” But it wasn’t. The ball curved right into the cup. And dad’s reaction was priceless. “He couldn’t believe it,” she said, laughing. “He kept looking into the hole.” David Brown doesn’t doubt his daughter very often. He’s seen enough to know that she … ]]> Tue, 18 Mar 2014 06:17:21 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: With Shimko, seniors get their moments at Peace ]]> Lead story image

Queen of Peace was an 0-22 basketball team when I first talked with new head coach George Shimko. Believe it or not, he was upbeat. We spent quite a bit of time talking about how excited he was about some of the younger talented players he expects will serve as building blocks for a more successful program in the future. But we spent the most time talking about seven seniors who made him proud. Their names are Jelyn Chua, Samantha Serrano, Katie and Christine Manika, Maggie Bennett, Nicole Carli and Jackie Pullido. None of them had much varsity experience prior … ]]> Tue, 11 Mar 2014 06:19:50 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Katie Eberling accepts alternate role on U.S. women’s bobsled team for Sochi Games ]]> Lead story image

Palos Hills native Katie Eberling became an All-American in 2010 as a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Team. But the true measure of her being ALL American is being displayed internationally this week in Sochi, Russia, where she’s serving as an alternate on the U.S. women’s bobsled team during the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Stagg graduate and former volleyball star had her world turned upside down Jan. 19 when she was passed over for a spot as one of the U.S. team’s brakemen. It was a bitter twist to what had been a success-filled three-year ride in which … ]]> Thu, 06 Mar 2014 06:51:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Mount Assisi closing ‘heart-wrenching’ for former sports stars ]]> Lead story image

Early in December, Cheryl Przychodni talked with groups of students at Mount Assisi Academy as part of a program called Roadmaps. A 2002 graduate of the Lemont school, Przychodni, a senior account manager at an advertising agency, spoke about communication, verbal and non-verbal, and interviewing skills. “We had some really good conversations with the kids going off to college about how they were going to present themselves to the outside world,” she said. It was a joyous, upbeat day. “The faculty, staff and students seemed very happy, very energized. It felt like family — just like it always did when … ]]> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 06:22:36 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: With King, Bloom eyes crowning glory ]]> Lead story image

Early in the season, Bloom girls basketball coach Ron Newquist presented a challenge to junior Danielle King to step up and take over a team that because of injuries, youth and the lack of a leader was spinning out of control. She accepted the role. Embraced it. Thursday, she demanded it. The Blazing Trojans point guard suddenly seized up during the third quarter of Bloom’s game against Rich East. It looked serious, according to Newquist. “Her knee locked up on her,” he said. “We had to call a timeout to get her off the floor. She barely walked off the … ]]> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 06:19:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Hillcrest’s Tanzania Sherrill rebounding into form ]]> Lead story image

The spring is back in her step. The pain-free smile is back on her face. It’s Christmas again for Hillcrest junior Tanzania Sherrill, although truth be told, the real thing probably didn’t feel like Christmas. The holiday season was nothing short of a struggle for the 5-foot-8 guard/forward, who saw what was supposed to be the beginning of her term as the next Hillcrest “it” girl get sidetracked by a lower back strain. A month later, after her best game of the season in Saturday’s 99-92 victory over Wheaton North, the Sherrill era is back on track. “I’m feeling better, … ]]> Sat, 22 Feb 2014 06:24:51 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Surprise story: At the half, it’s Rich Central ]]> Lead story image

With holiday tournaments in the rear view mirror and conference races about to heat up, some things that come to mind at the halfway mark of the girls basketball season ... Among the surprises team-wise, hands down the biggest has to be Rich Central, which under Craig Marek has risen from the ashes of a five-win season in 2012-13 to a 12-5 mark overall and 4-1 in the Southland Athletic Conference. Marek inherited quite a mess in the wake of the Bryan Craig sex-advice book fiasco, and spent much of last season sorting things out. The Olympians shocked everybody by … ]]> Fri, 14 Feb 2014 06:17:49 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Employing the fun-’n-gun ]]> Lead story image

Sami Wisniewski was huffing and puffing. The Lincoln-Way Central senior was a picture of exhaustion as she stood off to the side during a timeout at the Lincoln-Way East Medieval Classic. For the previous minute-plus, the 5-foot-8 guard had raced up and down the court four, maybe five times. She’d launched a couple of three-pointers and created some havoc on defense. She’d later say there’s no better way to have fun. And the exhaustion? She’ll just Grinnell and bear it. They play girls basketball at Central a little different than most these days. Many who watch leave a little confused … ]]> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 06:18:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Memory bank full of deposits from 2013 ]]> Lead story image

A few snippets from what yours truly saw, learned and wrote about on the high school sports scene in 2013. The courageous One of the first stories I wrote in 2013 was an amazing one involving Lincoln-Way East’s Claire McMahon. She not only beat the odds in earning a spot on the varsity girls basketball team as a freshman, but did so not long after undergoing brain surgery to alleviate a neurological disorder called Type I Chiari malformation. She’s a team leader as a sophomore. The most interesting young man I had the pleasure of writing this year involved Andrew … ]]> Mon, 03 Feb 2014 14:36:28 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Rich East junior Ashley Dennis coming into her own on the basketball court ]]> Lead story image

Whatever the present is that Rich East junior Ashley Dennis gives to her grandfather on Christmas morning, it will be hard to top the gift that she has been giving him for the past several weeks. Ronnie Dennis has been able to see his granddaughter become the kind of girls basketball player he always told her she could be. The 5-foot-10 forward has put up eye-popping numbers for the Rockets this season, averaging 26 points and 14 rebounds. She was a driving force during the Oak Lawn Varsity Girls Holiday Tournament, leading Rich East to the title game. Rich East … ]]> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 06:31:15 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: A long-overdue homecoming for Connor ]]> Lead story image

It was a special night Friday at Oak Forest High School, where boys and girls basketball stars from the past four decades were honored as “Legends.” The 1986-87 boys basketball team that competed on state finals weekend was also recognized. It was also an emotional night, especially when Ken Connor stood at center court for the first time in 26 years as an accepted and loved member of the Bengals basketball family. Friday night brought, if not vindication, at least some closure to an unfortunate chapter in Connor’s life, and the history of Bengals basketball. In 1986-87 Connor was in … ]]> Sat, 18 Jan 2014 06:33:34 -0500 <![CDATA[ Baranek: Tracy bringing a new attitude to Bremen girls basketball ]]> Lead story image

“Coach, look. I’ve got a new one.” It’s a phrase that new Bremen girls basketball coach Julie Tracy says she hears practically every day at practice. The bumps and bruises bring a smile to her face every time. “They are proud to show me their knees,” Tracy said, laughing. “There is one girl on my team who will run through a brick wall for a loose ball. “My point guard, Erin Schaffrath, her knees are purple. They all play very hard.” They’re being rewarded for it. The Braves entered play this week at 4-4. That might not seem like something … ]]> Fri, 10 Jan 2014 06:17:43 -0500