2015 Chicago Men’s – PLAYOFFS Sweet16 & Elite8 (August 3)

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Updated: August 6, 2015

There is something truly special about a “Win or Go Home” format.. There is a sense that anything is possible and no one can ever feel safe.. For four hours on Monday Night, Teams battled, and then battled some more in order to earn 1 of 4 final spots that remain in the Chicago Men’s League powered by Lawyer Stephen Le Brocq.  We started the night with 16 Teams and as the night wore on we got down to 8.. By night’s end we had 4 Championship hopefuls that will take the fields next week to try to earn the Crown.

Monday Night turned out to be a night of many firsts.. For the first time, Teams were allowed to pick the sport they wanted to compete in for the Playoffs (more like the sport their opponent did not want to compete in..) We also saw a version of the Elite8 that has never been seen in the Chicago Men’s League.. More on that to come.. We’re going to Game by Game in Chronological Order and then set-up next Monday Night’s conclusion. First, here’s the Weekly Highlight Video with extended Playoff action! OK Let’s Recap!

 

Sweet16 – Hoops/Hockey

4. Team Fallows (Bekin’s Lake County) v. 13. Team Palmer (Danley’s Garage World) – Hoops – 4. Team Fallows Advances

4. Team Fallows has impressed on the Hoops court all summer long and Monday Night’s Sweet16 was no different.. They got out to an early lead in the first half and never really looked back. 13. Team Palmer kept things close and were always one extended-run away from pulling even but could never get enough momentum to get Team Fallows reeling.. 4. Team Fallows would move on to the Elite8 where they’d take on the Winner of 5. Team Bemoras v. 12. Team Kornblatt later in the evening with a spot in the Final4 on the line.

For Team Palmer, they dip out of their first Playoff run a bit earlier than they would have liked but definitely have a strong base to now build from for future seasons. It’s extremely rare for Teams to come in and get Playoff Ws in their first season in the Chicago Men’s League.. They will have some much needed experience under their belts a year from now.  If they add one or two Hoopers they can hold the Crown in 2016. Thanks for playing!

 

5. Team Bemoras (popchips) v. 12. Team Kornblatt (Camp Ojibwa) – Hockey – 5. Team Bemoras Advances

5/12 Games often provide the best Game of the Round and these two sets of Rivals did not disappoint. Floor Hockey is what both Teams wanted here and it’s exactly what they got.. The lead changed more hands than anyone can count.. In the 3rd, 5. Team Bemoras at point led 8-5..  Then, after 5 unanswered… 12. Team Kornblatt led 10-8! It was a true sea-saw/momentum fueled contest.. Team Bemoras stormed back however scoring the Game’s next two Goals to tie it up at 10.  Captain Bemo and co. would not stop there and actually scored the Game-Winner with about 33 seconds remaining.. They’d tack one more on with an empty-net and escaped by the slimmest of margins.  This was an unbelievable battle that both Teams will certainly remember for years to come.. 5. Team Bemoras moves on to the Elite8 and will play 4. Team Fallows for a spot in the Final4.

For Team Kornblatt, (Editor’s Note: Full Disclosure — If I (Holden) were to play this would be the Team I play with).. It’s another Playoff heartbreaker to swallow.  You have to feel for these guys.. Year after year they lay everything they possibly can out on the floor/court/turf/diamond etc. and when it comes time to play in the Playoffs they just haven’t been able to get that signature W..  With the added Hockey dimension they are bound to get it soon.  If they can get a higher seed next season, they can likely get a better Hockey match-up.. They are an #Original12 squad and the League has been built on many Rivalries they have formed. They are a staple.  Thank you for playing.

8. Team Gross (Chicago Trolley & Double Decker) v. 9. Team Lehrman (Muchacha Salsa) – Hoops – 8. Team Gross Advances

These two tangled to a tight Hoops Game during the Regular Season and their resumes have been more or less even this season.. So we knew we were in-store for a hard-fought contest, that both Teams really felt they could come out on top of.. 8. Team Gross had the offense going early and spread their lead early in the second half.. After that run that made the lead go from 3-5 to double digits, that was all she wrote.. 8. Team Gross would advance to the Elite8 where they’d take on the Winner of 1. Team Sternberg and 16. Team Hakimian later in the night.

For Team Lehrman, many don’t know but most of the Guys on this squad are actually pulling double duty this Summer.. They are obviously the “young pups” in the Chicago Men’s League as they decided to get an early start (and to their win total) but they also are split between two Teams in the College/Prep League in Highland Park as well.. Both of those squads advanced to the Elite8 and are among the favorites for that Crown.. This group is the real deal and while they came up short on a Playoff W this season they are going to be ones to be reckoned with for years to come.. Thanks for playing.

6. Team Watts (VIP Express Limo) v. 11. Team Cruse (Sandusky Cabinets) – Hoops – 6. Team Watts Advances

The Defending Champs 6. Team Watts begin their march back to the Crown in Hoops where they are as comfortable as any.. 11. Team Cruse really got the short end of the stick here in terms of matchups.. While the Defending Champs are seeded #6 .. It’s just not who you want to see in Hoops during the Opening Rounds of the Playoffs.. The Champs couldn’t miss early and before you knew it they had put it away..

For Team Cruse, they had a great debut run in 2015.  They are one of the younger squads in the League and for the most part entirely comprised of Rookies. At one point they were Ranked in the Top 2 of the League and really made a name for themselves. They are a big part of a very bright future for the Chicago Men’s League. See you guys next Summer and thanks for playing!

2. Team Zimmerman (AMPY) v. 15. Team Apuli (Biaggi’s) – Hockey – 2. Team Zimmerman Advances

These Teams know each other all too well and it was a match-up that both were really looking forward to.. 2. Team Zimmerman selected Hockey which they earned the right to do coming off their fantastic Regular Season.. As the Game rolled on, it was clear why.. While it may be under the radar, Team Zimmerman has one of the best (if not THE) best Hockey Teams in the Chicago Men’s League and they sprinted out to an early lead.. There was no coming back from that from 15. Team Apuli.  2. Team Zimmerman would face the Winner of 7. Team Hadelman v. 10. Team Maione in the Elite8 later in the night.

For Team Apuli, an All Sports Series mainstay.. They had as tough of a draw as there was in the Sweet16.. Team Zimmerman seems like they are as determined as ever to finally grasp that Crown.. Team Apuli had a stellar Regular Season that was highlighted by a W-streak early in the Season.. This is a crew talented enough to finish near the top of the Standings and with a few more breaks they could have.. A higher seed would have made all the difference for them.. They’ll be back and with the right addition or two, can be playing in the League’s final night a year from now.. Thanks for playing!

3. Team Shlofrock (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. 14. Team Cohen (Manny’s Deli) – Hoops – 3. Team Shlofrock Advances

In terms of Rematches, this was the one most were looking forward to.. These 2 squads battled to the buzzer earlier in the season.. Jason Domash gave 3. Team Shlofrock the last-second W and was a giant reason they were allowed to make the choice of Hoops for this Sweet16 contest with 14. Team Cohen. The two Teams went back and forth in the first half before the depth of Team Shlofrock shined on through in the second.. They built a double digit lead and rode it to the Elite8 where they’d face Defending Champs 6. Team Watts who had won earlier in the night..

For Team Cohen, they have been around as long as the Chicago Men’s League has.. They are a core Team that has helped build this League into what it is.. Once again, they fall victim in the Opening Rounds of the Playoffs to one of the League’s best in Playoff Hoops.. Here’s where they are different though.. This Team.. The 2015 version could have really done it.. The Game got away from them on Monday Night but they could have won.. They showed that in the Regular Season.. Then who knows what happens.. Hopefully Captain Andy can make another addition or two (and we know he will).. This Group has a Final4 run in them.. 100% percent. Thanks for playing!

1. Team Sternberg (Kelly Parker HC) v. 16. Team Hakimian (Dr. Jacob D.D.S.) – Hockey – 1. Team Sternberg Advances

Last Week, in the Playoff Preview this Sweet16 Game was billed as a potential changing of the guard.. 1. Team Sternberg has run through the Regular Season and basically torn apart any Team who stood in their way.. All of that, in this, their first run in the Chicago Men’s League.  Then, 16. Team Hakimian, a group who possesses more All Sports Series hardware than any other Franchise..  They haven’t had their typical Regular Season, but many figured they’d make their run when the bright lights of the Playoffs shined down.. Something had to give here…

Earlier in the week, 1. Team Sternberg utilized their right to choose Floor Hockey as the arena for this Sweet16 Game. Something they earned through winning the Regular Season.. They knew full-well about Team Hakimian’s numerous Hoops accomplishments and wisely elected to go another route..

Team Sternberg did what they have done repeatedly this Season.. They went on the offensive early.. Made the other Team retreat to the Defensive end and started pouring it on.. Before you knew it, Team Sternberg had a big lead and all the momentum in the world.. It was over.. Team Hakimian being the past Champs that they are made a run in the 2nd period but it never got close enough to genuinely worry the #1 seed.. 1. Team Sternberg got past a gigantic first hurdle in what could end with them holding the Crown.. They move on to face 8. Team Gross in the Elite8 Round..

For Team Hakimian, the Back2Back Chicago Hoops League Champs and the 2010/2012 All Sports Series Summer League Champs, a bit of a roster re-haul is soon on the horizon.. Jobs have stolen away key members from these Championship squads to other cities and leaves the rest of the core needing a few more running mates.  Here’s the thing.. They’ve retooled in the past and if history is any indication, their moves will be smart and their acquisitions impressive.. Team Hakimian is the Spurs ladies and mostly gentlemen.. They don’t “rebuild”, they replenish.. Get some rest.. The quest for 3 straight Chicago Hoops Leagues and the first 3peat in All Sports Series history starts in October.. Thanks for playing!

7. Team Hadelman (Theory) v. 10. Team Maione (SportsLock) – Hoops – 7. Team Hadelman Advances

Once the Bracket was unveiled last week.. This was THE matchup of the Sweet16… These Teams have had numerous encounters in the past 24 months.. Each seemingly is better and more intense than the last.. Both Teams got “jumped” a bit in the League’s final week due to short runs in the VBall Tourney and fate brought them together in the 7/10 Game with a spot against 2. Team Zimmerman in the Elite8 on the line.  7. Team Hadelman jumped out to an early lead putting 10. Team Maione in a situation they don’t often find themselves.. Needing a 2nd half comeback…

As the Game ticked down to the final moments, all other Sweet16 Games had wrapped up and all eyes were on this final Sweet16 Game on the front court..  Team Hadelman still held a small lead but Team Maione can pour in points in a hurry.. That’s exactly what happened..  With about 30 seconds to go and down just 1, Team Maione had the ball and swung the ball to Chris Wroblewski on the wing who drove in and drew a foul with a bout 16 seconds remaining.. Chris sunk a huge Free Throw as he has often done over the years and gave Team Maione their first lead since the early stages.. Team Hadelman hurried down the court and found Alex Fillin open for 3 on the wing.. Splash! Team Hadelman back up 2 with about 6 seconds to go.. The in-bounds pass for Team Maione was an excellent outlet that found a trying Chris Wroblewski once again.. Only he had tweaked his ankle and on the reception there was little he could do and the Team Hadelman swarmed him as the buzzer sounded.  Team Hadelman would advance to their 3rd straight Elite8 in 3 summers!

For Team Maione, their Playoff journey is shorter lived than in past seasons.  As the 2013 Champs, they have been marked-men for years and certainly get everyone’s best week in and week out.  They have been in the class of the League forever and follow it up in each Chicago Hoops League as well.. These guys have so much hardware that one Playoff L is not going to do much to shake them. A year from now, people will be crossing their fingers to not see their name across from Team Maione’s in the Bracket.  They are the favorites to Win the Chicago Summer Hoops League taking place right now as well. On to the next one for this group. Thanks for playing!

 

Elite8 – Hoops/Hockey 

A brief note, for the first time in Chicago Men’s League history all Top 8 Seeds won in the Sweet16 and advanced to the Elite8 Round.  Much has been made about the format shake-up and involving hockey.. The purpose was to give added importance to seeds and the Regular Season in general.. Well, it’s certainly created an interesting result for Year 1.  OK on to the Elite8 we go..

1. Team Sternberg selected Hoops v. 8. Team Gross

2. Team Zimmerman selected Hockey v. 7. Team Hadelman

*With that Selection, the other Games would be Hoops..

 

1. Team Sternberg (Kelly Parker HC) v. 8. Team Gross (Chicago Trolley) – Hoops – 1. Team Sternberg Advances

No surprise that 1. Team Sternberg went back to the hardwood where they truly feel at home.. This Elite8 matchup is between two first time squads.. Which assures one Team from the “new breed” that we’ve been touting in the past few weeks will be part of the League’s final night.. and have a real shot at the Crown!  These two crews met all the way back in June and the Sternberg squad took that one pretty handedly.. 8. Team Gross knew they’d need to slow this Game way down to get a W.. Team Sternberg neared 90 points in their last Game and the fast pace really plays to their strength.. Team Gross did manage to slow the Game down.. They kept Team Sternberg under 70, which was by far their lowest total of the Season.. Unfortunately, for them.. they were held under 60 and 1. Team Sternberg marches on to the Final4 next week where they’ll play the Winner of 4. Team Fallows v. 5. Team Bemoras for the right to play in the Championship!

For Team Gross, making it to the Elite8 down here in their first Chicago League is such an impressive feat.. Only 8 Teams get Playoff Ws.. 8 of 20.. That’s something to be proud of and something to really build upon for Year 2.. They have all the tools and plenty of depth.. Another Hoops scorer can only help.. Another W or two in the Regular Season will allow them to dictate their Playoff journey a bit more too.. Everyone will know them next Summer and for good reason.. The future is bright. Thanks for the playing!

2. Team Zimmerman (AMPY) v. 7. Team Hadelman (Theory) – Hockey – 2. Team Zimmerman Advances

With 1. Team Sternberg selecting Hoops, 2. Team Zimmerman was left with the choice of Hockey or Hoops for this Elite8 battle.. They opted for Hockey, which may have surprised some but Captain Jack seems to always have a plan.. They surely did feel confident after their earlier Hockey W and that could have been weighing on the decision..  This Game took place just minutes after Team Hadelman’s Game Winner over 10. Team Maione in the Sweet16 round.. No time to celebrate however..  Anyways, this is a match-up of two Final4 Teams from a year ago.. This year, only one could get back there…

Team Zimmerman netted the first goal and then the second.. After that the they kept tacking them on and the trip back to the Final4 was theirs.. They move on to the League’s final night for the second consecutive Summer and hope that this year they leave with the prize.. They await the Winner of 3. Team Shlofrock and 6. Team Watts..

As for Team Hadelman, it’s a tough pill to swallow.. They experienced such a high in their first Game.. Not to mention they knocked out one of the League’s finest.. No question, it will take them a bit of time to get over this Hockey Loss.. Timing is everything and that’s no different in All Sports Series.. Team Hadelman was without a couple of the best Hockey players in the League.. Which will leave them wondering “what if?”..  They are among the favorites in any League they are apart of.. Many of them will lace up for the Chicago Hoops and Chicago Hockey Leagues that are coming in the Fall and Spring respectively.. They are going to win one of these Summer Leagues soon. When not if.  Thanks for playing!

3. Team Shlofrock (Crystal Lake CDJ) v. 6. Team Watts (VIP Express Limo) – Hoops – 6. Team Watts Advances

When the Bracket came out last week this was a potential Elite8 match-up that everyone (aside from their Sweet16 opponents) wanted to see.. These two groups haven’t gotten together in their best forms and for quite sometime.. However, many are extremely familiar with each other, having grown up in Deerfield. The Defending Champs 6. Team Watts had an insane road to the Crown last Summer and their journey back should be the same way.. Enter 3. Team Shlofrock who are looking to get to their first Final4 in the Chicago Men’s League.. It was a match-up of 2 of the X Hoops Teams in the League as well.. Depth and Fatigue would certainly play a factor as both Teams had just played an exhausting Sweet16 Hoops Game as well…

When the Game opened it, there was a feeling out process.. Neither Team took a firm lead and we went into the Half all tied up.. They went back and forth early in the second half.. Both Teams still looking for a signature moment to provide momentum and propel them to the W.  With about 10 minutes to go All Sports Series Vet, and new to Team Watts in 2015, Robbie Georgevich took the ball through the lane and hammered down a dunk that could be heard on the Hockey court.  The place erupted and it was the exact spark the Defending Champs needed go on a run.. Their run resulted in them getting up by double digits and never looking back.  Back to the Final4 once again for the Defending Champs where their foes from the 2014 Championship Game will be waiting.. 2. Team Zimmerman and this time it will be softball!

For Team Shlofrock, they took another step forward this Summer.. They keep improving and not just in their Roster. They are a better “Team” with each passing Summer. Captain Jake will make a couple adjustments in the off-season and you can expect an even better version of this group in 2016.. Which is a scary thought. This is another group that has enough to win the whole thing.. It’s not even a matter of them getting a break or two.. They don’t need it. They are as talented as any.. They’ve solidified themselves a permanent fixture in the top tier of the Chicago Men’s Leagues after finishing with a top seed these past 2 seasons.. Now they just need to go on a run in August and grab their Crown.. Thanks for playing!

4. Team Fallows (Bekin’s Lake County) v. 5. Team Bemoras (popchips) – Hoops – 4. Team Fallows Advances

Just the one spot left in the Final4 and it was up for grabs in this Elite8 battle..  Would have been a fun pairing to see duke it out in Hockey, but that was chosen already, and to the Hoops court they headed! These two squads haven’t met in the past (at least in their current forms) so there was a natural feeling out process taking place early on.. 4. Team Fallows had been the better Hoops Team during the Regular Season and that instilled confidence likely helped them early in this one.. 5. Team Bemoras was simply gassed after their epic last second Hockey W earlier in the Night.. They just couldn’t get anything to fall.. No legs.. Team Fallows took advantage of Team Bemoras’ struggle on offense and built up an insurmountable lead.. It’s the farthest the Fallows/Glass/Kozin group has gotten in the Summer Leagues since 2011 (the first season in Chicago). They are now knocking on the door of their first Championship Game appearance!  They’ll take on 1. Team Sternberg next week in the Final4!

For Team Bemoras, many counted these guys out early in the season, as the core of the group is one that transferred over from the Co-Ed League.. Most assumed that the competition would just be too much.. Most were wrong.. These guys got off to a great start early on this Summer and kept it going all the way to the #5 seed when the Playoffs began.. They have a memorable Playoff W against Team Kornblatt and the true building blocks of a group that can get even further a year from now.. Their roster is one of the most underrated of any in the League and with another season of playing together they should only improve.. Thanks for playing!

 

Final4 and Championship next week!

 

That’s it for us.. What a Monday.. Thanks again for everyone who wrapped up this past week. Have a great weekend!

– Holden