30TH ANNUAL CHARGER CLASSIC AT DUNDEE-CROWN
When: Dec. 26-29
A few players to watch: Deja Cage (Fenwick), Seara Clayborn (Evanston), Brittany Collins (Maine West), Alexa Resch (Barrington), Victoria Trowbridge (Naperville Central), Regan Carmichael (Maine South), Taylor Will (Prospect).
Dec. 26 matchups: St. Charles North vs. Evanston, 10 a.m., Barrington vs. Resurrection, 11:30 a.m., Maine West vs. New Trier, 1 p.m., Buffalo Grove vs. Naperville Central, 2:30 p.m., Bartlett vs. Mother McAuley, 4 p.m., Maine South vs. Dundee-Crown, 5:30 p.m., Prospect vs. Hononegah, 7 p.m., Fenwick vs. Johnsburg, 8:30 p.m.
Outlook: The 30th annual Charger Classic promises to be as entertaining as the first 29 as some of the top teams in the Chicago area are again a part of the field. The defending champion is Bartlett, which beat New Trier in last year's championship game on the way to a third-place finish in the Class 4A state finals. But the Hawks (8-7) are in a rebuilding mode this season and have a tough first-round matchup against Mother McAuley (9-2), which has lost only to Morgan Park and Marian Catholic. The Mighty Macs are coached this year by Ashley Luke Clanton, the former Waubonsie Valley all-American standout who went on to play at Penn State and DePaul. Luke coached at Danville High School last year, where her father B.J. is the head football coach.
"The tournament is stacked with a lot of good teams again," said Bartlett coach Denise Sarna. "We've been confronted with good teams throughout the season and playing that competition is just going to make us better. It has so far and it will continue to."
Dundee-Crown (1-9) gets an equally tough assignment in the opening round against tournament newcomer Maine South (11-2), which has lost only to unbeaten Evanston and Glenbrook South. The Chargers notched their first win of the season earlier this week against Larkin and host Jacobs tonight, but Maine South is one of the top seeds in the tournament and may be the best team D-C has played so far this season.
The tournament kicks off Dec. 26 with Evanston (12-0) facing St. Charles North (4-9). Evanston has been one of the surprises of the Chicago area this season. The Wildkits own wins over top teams such as Zion-Benton, Glenbrook South, Maine South and Trinity, among others, and are considered one of the teams to beat in the Charger Classic.
Tournament newcomer Barrington (9-4) takes on Resurrection (9-6) in the second game, followed by five-time champion Maine West (4-8) meeting New Trier (6-3).
The fourth game of the first day will pit Buffalo Grove (4-7) against a 13-1 Naperville Central squad whose only loss was in double overtime to highly regarded Wheaton Warrenville South. Coach Andy Nussbaum's Redhawks may have their best chance of winning the Charger Classic since the Candace Parker era.
The final two night games have Prospect (7-5) taking on Hononegah (7-3) and 10-1 Fenwick facing Johnsburg. Fenwick, under legendary coach Dave Power, has won the Charger Classic a record nine times and is one of the favorites again this season.
MUNDELEIN HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
When: Dec. 26-29
Dec. 26 matchups: Vernon Hills vs. Mundelein, Cary-Grove vs. Lake Park, Hoffman Estates vs. Prairie Ridge, Libertyville vs. Grant, Huntley vs. Conant, Streamwood vs. Niles West.
Outlook: The Mundelein tournament took a hit when undefeated Rolling Meadows bolted for the new Montini tournament, but the field is still very competitive, with unbeaten Vernon Hills, the Class 3A state runner-up a year ago, the favorite to prevail.
Cary-Grove (7-4) is coming around after struggling a bit early and if the Trojans can get past 0-11 Lake Park, they'll likely get a shot at Vernon Hills in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Streamwood (12-2) would like nothing better than another shot at Huntley (10-2), which beat the Sabres 54-42 at the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving tournament, and that could happen in the Dec. 27 quarterfinals if each wins their first game.
A team that can't be counted out here is Hoffman Estates (7-2), which knocked off Barrington this week and is in a tie for first place in the MSL West.
BILL NEIBCH FALCON CLASSIC AT WHEATON NORTH
When: Dec. 26-29
Dec 26 matchups: Willowbrook vs. West Aurora, 9 a.m., Glenbard South vs. Schaumburg, 10:30 a.m., Hersey vs. Elgin, 12 p.m., Wheaton North vs. Downers Grove North, 1:30 p.m., Hinsdale Central vs. Jacobs, 3 p.m., Lyons Township vs. St. Charles East, 4:30 p.m., Elk Grove vs. Glenbard North, 6 p.m., Glenbrook South vs. Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Elgin (3-10) and Jacobs (0-12) compete in one of the best tournaments in the Chicago area, with the Maroons drawing No. 7 seed Hersey (7-4) and Jacobs taking on No. 4 seed Hinsdale Central (8-2).
Glenbrook South (11-2), which has lost to Evanston and Hersey (earlier this week). Host Wheaton North (7-3) is the No. 2 seed and Willowbrook (9-2) is the No. 3 seed.
MONTINI HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
When: Dec. 26-29
Dec. 26 matchups: Romeoville vs. Hinsdale South, 8 a.m., Plainfield East vs. Oak Park-River Forest, 9:45 a.m., Batavia vs. Bogan, 11:30 a.m., Montini vs. St. Francis deSales, 1:15 p.m., Marian Catholic vs. Westinghouse, 3 p.m., Fremd vs. Proviso West, 4:45 p.m., Rolling Meadows vs. St. Joseph, 6:30 p.m., Zion-Benton vs. South Elgin, 8:15 p.m.
Outlook: Montini's new tournament has some top teams in it, including of course the host Broncos (13-0), who have won the last three Class 3A state titles. There are four other undefeated teams in the field -- Marian Catholic (10-0), Rolling Meadows (12-0), Plainfield East (10-0) and Romeoville (7-0). Add in 10-2 Fremd and it's an awfully tough field.
South Elgin, which played at the Oswego tournament last year, will bring an 8-5 record into its first game against 8-2 Zion-Benton.
LISLE HOLIDAY CAGE CLASSIC
When: Dec. 26-29
Dec. 26 matchups: Walther Lutheran vs. Mt. Assisi, Coal City vs. Timothy Christian, Newark vs. Reed-Custer, Immaculate Conception vs. Hampshire, Latin vs. St. Edward, Antioch vs. Chicago Christian, Lisle vs. Illiana Christian, Westmont vs. Wheaton Academy.
Outlook: St. Edward won this tournament last year, beating Timothy Christian in the title game. But the Green Wave (0-12) have struggled this year with inexperience and injuries. And, they get to play a 10-0 Latin team in the first round.
Hampshire is new to this tournament this season and Whip-Purs' coach Ed Haugens is hoping his 1-9 team can start to see some wins on the board. The Whips open against 8-3 Immaculate Conception.
FINISHING OR FINISHED
The Oswego tournament, in which Larkin competed, is over, and the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic will be tonight after Thursday's games were canceled by the bad weather. Crystal Lake South plays Lakes in the championship semifinals at 4:30 p.m. today at McHenry, while Burlington Central takes on McHenry at the same time at Woodstock in the second-place bracket. They will each play a second game today as well.