Whitney Young girls basketball coach Corry Irvin has never been one to shy away from competition. Annually, she schedules her team to play the toughest nonconference competition possible, both within Illinois and on trips the Dolphins take out of state.
On Saturday, Irvin will bring her team home -- to her home, that is.
Irvin, who as Corry Carter scored 1,142 points in her Larkin career before going on to play at Fresno State, will bring her Young team to her native Elgin to play Rolling Meadows in a 3:15 p.m. game at Larkin that is part of the Mac Irvin Diabetes Classic, an event that will also feature four top-notch boys games, including Huntley vs. Chicago Bogan at 1:30 p.m. to kick off the day. Larkin's boys team, whose head coach is Irvin's brother, Deryn Carter, will play defending Class 3A state champion Morgan Park in the finale at 8:15 p.m. Morgan Park, 33-3 last season, is coached by Corry Irvin's brother-in-law, Nick.
The event is being held in memory of Mac Irvin, Corry Irvin's father-in-law, who passed away in December of 2011. All proceeds will be donated to the American Diabetes Association.
"We really wanted to do it somewhere outside the city that doesn't usually get that caliber of games," said Corry Irvin, who is in her 13th year at Young with a record of 327-50, which includes eight state trophies. Irvin's Dolphins won state titles in 2008 and 2012. They finished third in Class 4A last year.
"Deryn was nice enough to have it (at Larkin)."
The Young-Meadows game features two of the top three teams in the state. Meadows, the defending Class 4A runner-up, is the No. 2 ranked team in the preseason Associated Press poll and Young is No. 3. Meadows is also the No. 1 team in the Daily Herald Top 20 and ranked No. 19 in the country by USA Today.
Saturday will be Young's season debut. Normally the Dolphins would have played Chicago Public League games already but with the IHSA calendar shifting a week later this year, the CPL also changed its schedule and Young already had its nonconference games all set, Irvin said.
Young won't have graduated all-American Linnae Harper to showcase but there were only three seniors on last year's third-place state team. Junior Taylor Brame (5-10), senior Khaalia Hillsman (6-5) and junior Tanita Allen (5-10) are all top players and 5-8 sophomore guard Kiana Lewis is back after missing last season with an injury,
"We're bigger than we've been so we'll apply a different kind of pressure this year," said Irvin, who continues to be assisted by her dad and Elgin resident Deryl Carter.
Meadows, which lost an exciting state title game 48-47 to Marian Catholic last year, returns all five starters including 5-11 Northwestern recruit Alexis Glasgow as well as 5-6 guard Jackie Kemph and 6-2 Jenny Vilet, both Saint Louis recruits. Coach Ryan Kirkorsky's Mustangs are off to a 7-0 start to the season, including a 71-68 win Tuesday over No. 3 Fremd.
"I know Ryan is excited to play us and to help raise money for diabetes," Irvin said.
Irvin also admitted she's made it pretty clear to her team that she expects them to ratchet up the intensity for one of her first visits back to her alma mater since taking the Young job.
"I've brought it up a couple times," Irvin said, "and D (her dad) has, too."
ChiTown Showdown: Huntley will get another crack at Irvin's Dolphins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13 when the Red Raiders travel to the city to play Young in the ChiTown Showdown, a two-day event that also features Class 3A runner-up Vernon Hills playing Trinity, Fremd taking on AP No. 1 Marian Catholic, Young facing Class 2A No. 1 St. Thomas More of Champaign, and Rolling Meadows playing Milwaukee Riverside. All of those games are on Saturday. Huntley lost to Young in the third-place game downstate last year.
Christmas musings: The seeding meeting for the Montini Christmas Tournament will be held next week and it should be interesting. Broncos' coach Jason Nichols has put together one of if not the best field of teams for any tournament, a field that includes No. 1 Marian Catholic (No. 15 in country by USA Today), Fremd, Rolling Meadows, Trinity, Neuqua Valley, Geneva, Huntley, Batavia, DeKalb, South Elgin, Zion-Benton, Proviso West, Oak Park-River Forest, St. Joe's and Plainfield East.
"We're excited. Our gym will be packed and the atmosphere will be awesome," Nichols said.
The actual Christmas tournament season gets under way Dec. 13 when Dundee-Crown and Crystal; Lake South begin play in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic. D-C will play in a pool at Woodstock and CL South is in a pool being played at Richmond.
Hampshire fundraiser: In conjunction with the annual "Pack the Place" basketball event with Burlington Central on Saturday, Hampshire High School will be working with the American Heart Association to raise awareness and combat heart disease. T-shirts will be sold for $10 by the American Heart Association to support research to fight heart diseases and any fan that purchases a T-shirt will be provided free admission. Other activities planned are a healthy food drive which will benefit the area food pantry, a chuck-a-duck competition, and a miracle minute to raise funds. Games begin at 11:30 a.m. and end with the varsity girls game at 5:30 p.m. and the boys varsity at 7:30 p.m. at Hampshire High School.