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With South Elgin's tough but spirited loss to Rockford Auburn in Friday's Class 4A boys sectional final at Chesbrough Field House, the book officially closed on the Fox Valley basketball season.
And that means it's also time to officially close the book on the girls' season with some observations of the past season and the future.
Topping the list of highlights from this just-completed season is Burlington Central's run to the Class 3A Final Four.
Even though the Rockets suffered two losses at Redbird Arena, they brought home the school's first state tournament trophy in basketball and, more importantly, set the table for future success.
Central will return its top seven players and 10 overall from a team that went 27-6. They will all get better with another AAU and summer high school season under their belts and they are resolved to returning to Redbird next year and winning.
Some of the buzz around Redbird last weekend centered around the IHSA's new Success Achievement system that will surely move state champ Montini, which the Rockets came thisclose to upsetting in the semifinals, up to Class 4A next year. But that new system also means Champaign St. Thomas more, the 2A champ, will likely move to 3A and we hear 4A sectional champ Rockford Boylan could be moving down to 3A.
So, no, the road to Redbird for the Rockets won't get any easier next season but the experience they gained on that road this year will certainly be another thing to their benefit next season.
Great experience for Lach: Jacobs senior Alyssa Lach, who will play softball on scholarship at Butler, made a name for herself last weekend at Redbird when she advanced to the Final Four of the 3-point showdown.
Lach made 12 of her 15 shots in Thursday's 32-player preliminary round to advance to Friday's finals along with Haley Gorecki of Fremd, Samantha Pietruszynski of Lincoln-Way West and eventual winner Jasmin Bailey of Ottawa.
"It was a cool experience," Lach said after making 6 of 15 in the 4A finals. "It was fun to come down here and experience it all."
Kudos and class: First the kudos. Corry Irvin has become one of the best coaches in Illinois. Each year, the Larkin graduate gets the very most out of her Whitney Young team. It's not easy to maintain consistency at a Chicago Public League school but Irvin, with help from her dad, Deryl Carter, the rest of her family and the Irvin family, has created a family of her own at Young and she is to be congratulated on guiding the Dolphins to their third state title in her 13 years as their coach.
And the class award goes to Rolling Meadows. For the second year in a row the Mustangs came up short in the Class 4A title game, and this year was an even tougher pill to swallow with eight seniors on the roster. But coach Ryan Kirkorsky and his team made no excuses. They held their heads high, were proud of their accomplishments and were eloquent and classy in the way they lauded Young's performance in the championship game.
After a season of discontent from Homewood-Flossmoor to Rockford and many points in between, it was good to see that kind of reaction to a loss. So Meadows gets kudos for its class.
Final state note: Burlington Central became the seventh Big Northern Conference school to advance downstate in girls basketball and the first from the East Division since Hampshire completed its three-year run to Redbird by finishing second in 2004. Marengo and Richmond-Burton are the other East Division schools to have made it to Redbird, while Byron, Stillman Valley and Winnebago from the West have all been downstate.
Youth movement: While we bid adieu to another fine senior class, we also look to the future and after seeing so many non-seniors performing at a high level this season the future does indeed look bright. Keep an eye on these players next season:
Juniors to become seniors -- Katie Barker (Cary-Grove), Jenn Barnec (Jacobs), Alison Colby (Burlington Central), Aly DeTamble (Burlington Central), Kylee Knox (Harvest Christian), Cece Rapp (St. Edward), Rachel Rasmussen (Crystal Lake South), Lauren Lococo (Dundee-Crown), Kiana Jeremiah (Streamwood).
Super sophs -- Burlington Central's "Fab Five" of Sam Pryor, Shelby Holt, Kayla Ross, Sam Cruz and Becca Gerke; Huntley's Ali Andrews, Hampshire's Emma Benoit, CL South's Chanel Fanter, South Elgin's Nadia Yang, Westminster Christian's Maddie Versluys, Bartlett's Kelly Harris and Kaitlin Brohan, and Huntley's Kayla Barreto.
Fab freshmen -- Jacobs' Carly Sidor, St. Edward's Madelyn Spagnola, Larkin's Marlee Kyles, South Elgin's Mackie Kelleher, and Huntley's Abbey Brown.
And we're quite sure new names will emerge next season as well.
IBCA All-State: The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association combines its Class 3A and 4A all-state teams and four Fox Valley area girls were recognized among the top four teams. Huntley sophomore Ali Andrews made second team, while Streamwood senior Hannah McGlone and Burlington Central sophomore Sam Pryor were third team. Huntley senior Sam Andrews was a fourth-team choice. Receiving special mention were Bartlett senior Ally Giampapa, Streamwood senior Holly Foret, CL South senior Sara Mickow, South Elgin senior Savanah Uveges. Cary-Grove junior Katie Barker and CL South sophomore Chanel Fanter.
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