Today, we salute three Fox Valley area basketball players as our 2010-11 honorary all-area captains.
What Jacki Gulczynski of Bartlett, Claire Jakubicek of Cary-Grove and Kory Brown of Elgin accomplished this season, we feel, stood out. But as I've said many times in this space, while we salute the captains and the all-area teams in today's Sports Extra (Section 4), we also salute every basketball player that laced up a gym shoe this winter.
It's been another fun season of girls basketball in our area and despite the fact no Fox Valley area team advanced downstate, it was also a productive season.
Today we take a look at the just concluded season in our area, and what's in the future.
Cary-Grove (27-4): The Trojans reached a sectional final this season for the first time since 2001 behind the strong senior leadership of Jakubicek and Megan Straumann. They will both be missed, but coach Rod Saffert has plenty of talent back, led by sophomore Olivia Jakubicek and junior Paige Lincicum. The Trojans should be the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division champions again but to think they can start another four-year stretch of 101-19 will take some real work and commitment.
Bartlett (28-2): The Hawks won the Upstate Eight Valley title and another regional but fell short in the toughest Class 4A sectional in the state, losing in the semifinals to Trinity. Replacing a Gulczynski, as well as senior leaders Christina Carlson and Nicole Beck won't be easy, but coach Denise Sarna has some firepower back in juniors Haley Videckis, Kristin Conniff, Janessa Baker and Lisa Palmer so look for Bartlett to be awfully good again next year. Repeating in the Valley will be tougher, though, as Waubonsie Valley returns all five starters.
Hampshire (27-3): The Whip-Purs had another memorable season that was cut short when the IHSA shifted two-time Class 3A state champ Montini into the same sectional. Nevertheless, Hampshire won its fourth straight Big Northern East title and leaves the BNC for the Fox Valley's Fox Division having won 39 straight league games. The Whips also won their third straight regional title. Seniors Alex Dumoulin, Karla Vietinghoff and Jessie Van Dorin left their mark on the program and with point guard Grace Jakubowski the returning leader, coach Ed Haugens is already optimistic about next year.
St. Edward (21-8): The Green Wave won more games than a St. Edward team has since 1990-91 and made it to the Class 2A sectional finals and there's no reason to think next year won't be just as good or better. Senior Enza Ranallo will be tough to replace at the point but coach Michelle Dawson has high hopes for sophomore Katie Swanson. St. Edward returns its other four starters in Rena Ranallo, Callie Johnson, Maddie Kerr and Alex Lee, so look for the Wave to be chasing 20 wins and postseason glory again next year.
Streamwood (22-6): Replacing what Emma Schmidt and Michelle Tomczak brought to the program will be a tough one for coach George Rosner and the Sabres, but there's a good foundation with Jessica Cerda, Amanda Patterson and Deja Moore back, and freshman Hannah McGlone ready to step onto the varsity full time. As Rosner approaches retirement, he needs just 1 win for his 350th, and next year's Streamwood team should be competitive again.
Huntley (20-9): The Red Raiders also lose two of the best seniors to come through the area in a while in Kadie Lowery and Carly Goede. In fact, all five Huntley starters were seniors so the Red Raiders will likely be in somewhat of a rebuilding mode next season.
Around the area: Elgin, Larkin, South Elgin, Burlington Central, Crystal Lake South and Jacobs had subpar seasons this year but feature some of the top players returning in Bri Hamilton (Elgin), Maggie Hoffman (Larkin), Becca Smith (South Elgin), Brenda Thasavong and Jessica Laird (Burlington Central), Stephanie Melone (CL South) and Jessica Tennant (Jacobs).
Finally, a thank you to all the coaches and players in the area who made this another enjoyable season to cover. Best of luck to all those headed to college and to those who we know will work hard over the summer to become better and make their teams better in 2011-12.
With that, it's time to put the hoops books away and bring on softball season!