Wed. Pa. boys and girls: Bok grad signs with Illinois

Posted: February 07, 2014

Before opening up Wednesday's national-signing-day news conference to reporters' questions, Illinois football coach Tim Beckman said he had a story to tell.

It was about Jihad Ward, a former football standout at now-closed Bok Tech, who took a long trip before signing a letter of intent with the Illini.

After leaving Bok, Ward played two seasons at Globe Institute of Technology, a junior college in New York City.

Beckman said Ward traveled more than an hour each day by train from his house outside the city to Globe's Manhattan campus.

But before boarding the train, Ward had to wake up the eight teammates with whom he lived. They had to be at the train station by 4 a.m. and arrive at the football complex by 6.

The train dropped them 12 blocks from campus, where they would change before walking eight blocks - in full pads - to the football complex.

After the 21/2-hour practice, Ward and his teammates walked 10 blocks to work out at a gym. By noon, they were back on campus for six hours of classes.

And after a team dinner, Ward and his teammates boarded the train home. It was after 8 p.m. then, and it would not be long before Ward woke up his teammates again.

"He's big. He's athletic. All those types of things are great," Beckman said. "But he's a special, special individual."

The 6-foot-6, 285-pound defensive tackle is rated as a four-star recruit by Ward racked up 55 tackles and eight sacks last season for Globe.

Along with Illinois, Ward had interest from West Virginia, Tennessee, and Washington. He committed to Illinois less than two weeks after visiting West Virginia.

At Bok, Ward spent time as a wideout and a defensive end as the Wildcats rolled to three straight Public League Class AA crowns.

"He's not only going to teach our football team, but he's going to teach our coaching staff about what needs to get accomplished for you to be successful in life," Beckman said.

Boys' Basketball

Conrad Chambers hit four free throws down the stretch, and Chester held off host Academy Park, 73-71, in a Del-Val League game that was suspended on Jan. 7 after a pipe burst. Mahir Johnson scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half for the Clippers.

Girls' Basketball

Lexi Stover scored 11 points to help Archbishop Carroll past host Little Flower, 50-36, in a Catholic League game.

Girls' Bowling

A 222 game by Little Flower's Kiera McMonagle led Little Flower past host Archbishop Ryan, 4-0, in a matchup of the Catholic League's top teams.

Maria Lampugnani bowled a 636 series. Ryan was led by Marissa Aguidao (203 game) and Tori Cruz (588 series).

The win secures Little Flower the top seed in the league playoffs, which will begin Friday. Both Ryan and Little Flower have first-round byes.

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