From the Fox Valley world of good starts, OK starts and, well, not so great starts to the girls basketball season.
Topping the list of good starts is Huntley (5-1). Hearing about the Red Raiders this summer and then seeing them play two of their first six games has me convinced -- this is a very good team. The blip on the record is a 27-point loss to Hononegah that Huntley coach Steve Raethz and his team would like to forget about but won't anytime soon, if that makes sense.
Six-foot-2 Huntley freshman Ali Andrews is proving to be as good as advertised. Anytime a kid 6-2 can power to the basket, handle the ball, and bury 3-pointers, you know she's a complete player. Ali's 6-foot junior sister Sam gives opposing teams a double dose of inside-outside, and steady senior Haley Ream defends with the best of them. Freshman point guard Kayla Barreto has shown to have varsity savvy and into the second and third players off the bench, the Red Raiders have proved to be a deep team.
The thing Raethz was happiest about just prior to eating his Thanksgiving turkey was the way his kids bounced back from that Hononegah loss to win four in a row, beating a decent St. Viator team, a very tough Streamwood squad and a good South Elgin team before handing a very good Palatine bunch its first loss of the season. And, Huntley won those four games by 15, 12, 22 and 18 points.
Speaking of Streamwood, the Sabres (4-1) are right at the top of the list for good starts as well, their only blemish being that 12-point loss to Huntley.
The Sabres are another team that is winning with a team effort. Jessica Cerda, Hannah McGlone and Deja Moore are a scoring threat trio every night. This could be one of coach George Rosner's best overall Sabres teams yet.
Another good start goes to Burlington Central (3-1). New Rockets' coach Mark Smith knew what he saw in practice looked pretty good, but anytime you trot out more freshmen in the starting lineup than juniors and seniors you never know what's going to happen. BC responded by taking second place in its own tournament, including a 42-40 overtime win over Sycamore. Smith and his team surely learned something in their 12-point loss to Belvidere North in the title game and if the Rockets continue to progress, they could be a Big Northern East contender.
The OK starts are several and include Elgin (2-2), South Elgin (3-2), Cary-Grove (3-2) and Westminster Christian (3-2).
Elgin may not have played the toughest schedule over Thanksgiving but the Maroons got two wins, which is one more than they had all of last year, so that's definitely an OK start. Maroons' coach Dr. Nick Bumbales doesn't have visions of grandeur but there are definitely more winnable games on the slate for Elgin this season.
South Elgin had a decent start at the Dundee-Crown tournament. Storm coach Tim Prendergast knows full well the development of his guard play until Savanah Uveges returns from injury will dictate how well his team fares.
Cary-Grove was off to a nice start with two wins before big losses to MSL toughies Fremd and Rolling Meadows got in the way. The Trojans bounced back with a win over Lakes and, much like South Elgin, the development of their guards until Katie Barker comes back from injury will dictate the flow of the season.
Westminster Christian notched nice wins over Sandwich and Hinckley-Big Rock before falling to Somonauk and Serena at the Somonauk tournament. The Warriors bounced back with a nonconference win over St. Francis deSales. McKaila Hays has proved to be a scoring threat early in the season.
Those starts to the season coaches and players are working hard to turn around include Bartlett (2-4), Larkin (0-4), Crystal Lake South (2-3), Hampshire (0-5), Jacobs (0-4), Dundee-Crown (0-5), St. Edward (0-7) and Harvest Christian (0-1 as of Monday).
Each of those teams has its share of talent, it's inexperience and in some cases injury that have caused them to struggle early.
On tap this week: It's a fair mix of conference and nonconference games around the area this week. The Upstate Eight River race will kick off in earnest on Friday when St. Charles North visits Streamwood. One of the better nonconference battles this week will be Saturday when Huntley travels to Barrington.
Christmas is near: Christmas tournaments aren't far off, including the 30th Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown, among many others. Dundee-Crown AD Dick Storm and tournament organizer Joe Komaromy have some special events planned for the 30th Charger Classic that are sure to make the Dec. 26-29 period a memorable four days.
The first Christmas tournament actually kicks off Dec. 8 at Oswego. Larkin is part of the field there and the Royals play the host school, Naperville Central and Rosary in pool play. Naperville Central will also be one of the top teams at the Charger Classic.
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