Streamwood girls basketball coach George Rosner has a simple message for his team this week.
"Our fate is in our own hands and the girls know that," Rosner said Monday.
Streamwood's fate, Rosner, hopes, is the championship of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division. Wins this week will assure the Sabres of no worse than a tie for the program's first conference title since its Sweet Sixteen season of 1987-88, a title the Sabres shared with Elgin. Streamwood has never won an outright conference title in girls basketball.
Tonight, the Sabres (16-4 overall) take their 7-1 River record to St. Charles East, the only team in the division to beat Streamwood this season. The Saints won 61-50 at Streamwood on Dec. 11 and tonight's game was poised to be a first-place showdown until Geneva handed SCE its second River loss on Saturday. Geneva has 2 losses in the division as well, and the Vikings visit Streamwood on Friday. The Sabres finish their conference schedule against Batavia (3 River losses) at home Feb. 2. SCE plays Batavia on Saturday and then finishes next week with Elgin, while Geneva plays Larkin Saturday and then Elgin and St. Charles North next week.
"With St. Charles (East) losing to Geneva, it's even more in our hands now," said Rosner.
Rosner has spent more time than he'd like reviewing the tape of the Dec. 11 game against the Saints, one in which his team had 24 turnovers and gave up 21 more points than its season average.
"We played poorly," Rosner said. "We gave up (61) points and we've averaged giving up 40. We didn't shoot well, we didn't rebound and we had 20-plus turnovers. It was not a good game for us. We have to play (tonight) more like we've been playing."
While Streamwood's scoring strength is split between seniors Jessica Cerda, Hannah McGlone and Deja Moore, Rosner knows the one Saint he wants his team to contain better this time and that would be senior guard Amanda Hilton, who scored 24 points in the previous meeting and had 33 in Saturday's win over Geneva.
"We have to know where Hilton is all the time," Rosner said. "She hurt us by getting free too much."
Rosner says his team is as focused as can be on St. Charles East, and a possible conference championship.
"We've looked at the banners in the gym and there's a long separation of dates up there," he said. "There's motivation. It's been a long time and we have a chance. It's in our hands."
Helping hand: Streamwood has been getting some help this season from former Sabre standout Chris (Francke) Tomasiewicz, a 1990 graduate who was a starter as a sophomore on the 1987-88 championship team before going on become the program's second all-time leading scorer and earn a scholarship to play for Doug Bruno at DePaul. Tomasiewicz, who lives in Crystal Lake and has children who will attend Prairie Ridge, was Rosner's freshman coach a few years back but stepped away. She is now helping as much as she can after recovering from a serious boating accident.
"It's nice to have her around again," said Rosner, who now has 380 career wins. "She relates well to the girls. She talks to them about playing for DePaul and playing on TV, and her experience is really helpful."
FVC Valley race: The Upstate Eight River isn't the only conference up for grabs. The Fox Valley Conference Valley Division is still very unsettled with three-time defending champion Cary-Grove and Huntley both at 7-1 and Crystal Lake South at 5-2. South, which lost to Huntley 56-32 on Dec. 11, hosts the Red Raiders Wednesday night and if Huntley wins again, the title figures to come down to the Feb. 2 Cary-Grove at Huntley game. The Trojans play McHenry Saturday and still have Jacobs and Dundee-Crown on their Valley schedules, while Huntley plays Jacobs Saturday and Dundee-Crown next week. If CL South can turn the tables on Huntley, the Gators will then become Raider fans next week, hoping for a Huntley win over Cary-Grove and a three-way tie. The Gators also still have Prairie Ridge, McHenry, Jacobs and Dundee-Crown on their Valley schedule.
Rockets closing in: Burlington Central is closing in on its first conference title since 2006-07. The Rockets (17-4, 8-0) have a 2-game lead on Richmond-Burton in the Big Northern East. A win tonight against Harvard would mean BC can wrap up the East title at Richmond on Saturday afternoon.
Back in the fold: South Elgin junior guard Savanah Uveges played her most minutes yet in Saturday's 64-51 win at Bartlett, and said after the game her surgically repaired knee is feeling good. Her presence wasn't lost on Bartlett coach Denise Sarna.
"Savanah's got some experience," Sarna said after Uveges scored 16 points in the Storm's win over the Hawks. "Sometimes it's not the physical you need as much as the mental and she's a calming influence on that team."
Seeding week: Class 3A and 4A coaches will go through the IHSA's online seeding process this week, with seeds being released late Thursday afternoon and postseason pairings on Friday.
The Class 4A Bartlett sectional complex figures to have a clear-cut No. 1 seed in Wheaton Warrenville South, which made it to the sectional finals last year before losing to Bartlett, but after that things are up for grabs. In no particular order, Batavia, Elk Grove, York, Geneva, Proviso West, St. Charles East, Willowbrook, Wheaton North and even Bartlett could all vie for one of the remaining top four seeds. Conventional wisdom, though, gives the nod to Wheaton North as No. 2 and Willowbrook No. 3. The 4 seed could be interesting Proviso West is 12-5 but lost to sub-. 500 Glenbard West last week. Fenton is 14-8 but strength of schedule has to be an issue. Bartlett's loss to South Elgin could hurt the Hawks' chances for a 4 seed but reputation could win out.
The top two seeds in the 4A Streamwood regional will go to Streamwood and South Elgin, with the coaches' voting determining the logjam between Jacobs, Dundee-Crown, Elgin and Larkin. And in the Crystal Lake South regional, Cary-Grove and the host Gators figure to be the 1-2 seeds. Huntley, despite its sparkling 17-4 record, could be the No. 2 or even 3 seed in the Belvidere North regional. DeKalb is 18-3 and host Belvidere North is currently 15-4.
In Class 3A, Kaneland will likely get the No. 1 seed in the Burlington Central regional with the host Rockets No. 2. Hampshire, Sycamore, Plano and Sandwich are also in the BC regional.
In Class 1A, which seeded last week, Westminster Christian got the No. 1 seed at the Harvest Christian regional and will play the winner of the Harvest vs. Cristo Rey St. Martin play-in game on Feb. 5 in the regional semifinals. Elgin Academy is the No. 3 seed and plays No. 2 Christian Liberty, also on Feb. 5.