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If Montini coach Jason Nichols has one goal for the Montini Christmas Tournament, he wants it to be considered the girls version of Proviso West's highly regarded boys holiday tournament.
It's hard to imagine a stronger 16-team field.
Marian Catholic, led by former Lisle coach Dan Murray, owns the top seed and brings a loaded backcourt. Trinity and Rolling Meadows follow as the second and third seeds, respectively.
Montini, which boasts three Division I players and took third in Class 3A last year after three consecutive state championships, is only the No. 4 seed at its own tournament.
"When you've got South Elgin as your 12th seed," Nichols said, "you know you've got something good cooking."
The Broncos will open with No. 13 Oak Park. No. 6 Neuqua Valley gets No. 11 DeKalb in the first round.
"There are some really awesome first-round matchups," Nichols said. "I want the tournament to be deep. I want it to be tougher than any regional, sectional or supersectional."
With a field like this, Nichols is planning for big crowds, especially as the later rounds develop.
"Come out and get your seats early," he said.
Undefeated Hersey earned the top seed at Wheaton North's Bill Neibch Falcon Classic, with Downers Grove North (6-1) second. Undefeated Willowbrook (9-0) earned the third seed.
Meanwhile, the host Falcons picked up the No. 7 seed, just behind Hinsdale Central but just ahead of Glenbard South.
Back to Dundee-Crown:
Naperville Central has been going to Dundee-Crown's holiday tournament for years, and this year is no different. The Redhawks learned Thursday they will open with Evanston.
"This will be the third year in a row we've played Evanston," Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum said. "Two years ago we went up there and laid an egg. Then I thought last year we played extremely well. And they had some injuries last year. But that's a tough first draw. They're really good. They're really good."
But first the Redhawks play at Oswego's tournament starting with Saturday's game against Batavia. Proviso East and Marian Catholic also are in the Redhawks' half of a daunting tournament draw, much tougher than last year's draw.
"A substantial upgrade," said Nussbaum, whose team fell to 2-6 overall with Thursday's DuPage Valley Conference loss to Glenbard East. "And we're obviously struggling."
Wheaton vs. Wheaton:
Rivalry games can mean ugly basketball.
The first half of last week's Wheaton North vs. Wheaton Warrenville South game was a case in point. The Tigers made just 7 of 40 shots in the first half, while the Falcons made 6 of 22.
"It's Wheaton North-Wheaton South, you've got a really nice crowd, some adrenaline, your heart rate is probably a little too high," Tigers coach Rob Kroehnke said. "I tried to really calm them down before the game because I could sense (it). It was a very good crowd, and I could see that we were getting a little excited. It happens, and it's great. It was a fantastic crowd. I'm glad they came out. I'm just glad we gave them a pretty good show in the second half. The first half, if they like defense they got a great show."
But that's the way it goes when North Side plays South Side.
"Coach Kroehnke always says you never know with Wheaton North. He's seen it all," Tigers senior Meghan Waldron said. "He's seen blowouts, he's seen close games like that. He's seen everything."
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz
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- Wheaton Warrenville South High School
- Willowbrook High School
- Prep Girls