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Bulldogs basketball runners up at national tournament following Jones injury – other local scores

LANSING, Ill. (April 6, 2024) – A national runner-up finish and 34 wins made for another historic season for South Suburban men’s basketball, but coach John Pigatti couldn’t help but think, “What if?”

Jemel Jones, the Bulldogs sophomore who led all divisions in college basketball in scoring by a wide margin, suffered a separated shoulder with two minutes left in the NJCAA Division II national semifinal win against Ellsworth (Kan.).

“At shootaround at 12:30 (p.m.) on game day, he couldn’t move his arm above his shoulder,” Pigatti said.

But after working with training staff, Jones was able to play that night against National Park (Ariz.). He started slowly with seven points in the first half but scored 18 in the final 20 minutes to finish with a game-high 25 in an 84-79 loss.

“If we have him at full strength, I think we’re the national champs,” Pigatti said.

Even so, second in NJCAA Division II is “a pretty good accomplishment for our school,” he said.

Ditto for Jones’ achievements. He had more than 1,300 points this season and in two junior-college seasons at Olive-Harvey (2022-23) and SSC he finished with 1,998.

Jones’ efficiency — he averaged around 22 shots per game — made his scoring numbers even more impressive.

Next up for Pigatti is recruiting — both in helping his current players move on to four-year schools and putting together his own roster for next season.

Jones has plenty of interest from the likes of Florida State, Seton Hall, and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Another Bulldog, Quentin Heady, already has signed with Central Michigan.

“I’m at the Final Four, talking to coaches,” Pigatti said. “(And) we’re going to try to reload, sign a new team (for next season).”


The Bulldogs moved to 13-18 with an 18-0 shutout of Kennedy-King on March 30.

Top hitters for South Suburban included Anthony Martinez (4-for-4, 4 runs, RBI), Nathaniel MacNamara (1-for-3, 3 runs, 2 RBI), Christian Holmes (3-for-5, 3 runs, RBI), TF North grad David Holmes (3-for-4, 3 runs, 2 RBI), Ryan Galbraith (2-for-5, 2 runs, 2 RBI), Illiana Christian grad Adam Walters (2-for-5, RBI), and Jayden Cummings (3-for-4, run, 4 RBI).

TF South


South blanked Argo 15-0 on Thursday.

Earning singles wins were Glory Ike (No. 1), Annika Biegel (No. 2), Emily Dominiak (No. 3), Samantha Vazquez (No. 4), Azzuri Akbar (No. 5), Deisy Salto (No. 6), Nathalia Castellanos (No. 7), Rereloluwa Sonoiki (No. 8), Hannah Fowler (No. 9), and Giana Murabito (No. 10).

Picking up doubles wins were Biegel and Dominiak at No. 1, Vazquez and Ike at No. 2, Salto and Akbar at No. 3, Murabito and Jessica Campusano at No. 4, and Sonoiki and Kaylyn Imala at No. 5.


The Red Wolves are 3-7 after going 1-4 on their trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., over spring break.

South lost 6-4 to Knox Central (Ky.) and beat Raceland (Ky.) 13-5 on April 1, was swept 10-7 and 12-2 by North Bullitt (Ky.) on April 2, and fell 10-0 to North Royalton (Ohio) on Thursday.

Jake Stachelski, Jayden Spann, Tyler Earmsmuth, and Josh Moss all had two hits vs. Knox Central, with Earmsmuth driving in two runs.

Stachelski, Ryan Marnell, and Kyle Smith all drove in two runs against Raceland. Stachelski, Moises Mata, Abe Serna, and Marnell all scored twice.

Smith and Jack Starcevich had two hits each in Game 1 vs. North Bullitt and Smith scored twice. Mata had two hits and scored a run in the nightcap.

Serna had South’s lone hit vs. North Royalton.

TF United

Girls soccer

United opened its season with a 5-1 loss to Reavis on April 2. Freshman Anaiyelli Martinez had the lone goal for United.

Boys volleyball

United lost 25-11, 25-20 to Oak Lawn on Thursday, 25-18, 25-16 to Washington on Feb. 2 and 25-18, 25-11 to Lincoln-Way Central on April 1.


Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.