Girls basketball teams from around the Fox Valley spent their Christmas breaks chasing a tournament championship, and three were able to bring a title home.
St. Edward won the Lisle Holiday Cage Classic, beating Illiana Christian 71-67 in the championship game.
It was the 10th straight win for St. Edward (13-3), which also defeated Coal City, Addison Trail and St. Francis.
The St. Francis win was particularly exciting, 81-78 paced by 34 points from Maddie Spagnola and 18 from Katelyn Castoro.
Spagnola then followed with 26 points including 6-of-6 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter of the championship game to take home tournament MVP honors.
"I'm really glad we came out for this tournament and won it," said Spagnola, who scored her 1,000th career point earlier this season Nov. 25 against Oak Park-River Forest.
"We're really excited about it. This tournament was really hard for us and it will give us a lot of confidence."
Castoro and Yssa Sto. Domingo also made the all-tournament team. Castoro had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the championship game and Sto. Domingo added 5 points.
After beating South Elgin on Tuesday, St. Edward gets back to action Thursday at Walther Christian. Spagnola will look to continue her stellar senior season that includes averages of 25.8 points, 5.3 steals, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists at Lisle.
"Through hard work both in season and in the off-season, Maddie has brought her game to a new level," St. Edward coach Michelle Dawson said. "She is a dynamic player that is difficult to defend because of her quickness, athleticism and skill. Our team is playing as a cohesive unit with everyone responsible for filling a role. Maddie is our top scorer but our success so far this season is because of the chemistry this team has on the court and our high level of intensity."
Harvest Christian (11-3) earned the title at Alden-Hebron's Stateline Classic. The Lions went 4-0 in the tournament, and their toughest test proved to be from fellow Northeastern Athletic Conference member Aurora Christian, 39-25.
Cary-Grove claimed a co-championship of the Libertyville tournament with a 47-21 win over Hoffman Estates. The Trojans, led by Katie Sowa's 13 points, improved to 10-5.
Second best: St. Charles East (13-4) nearly became a fourth tournament champ.
The Saints made their annual trip to Wheaton North for the 33rd Bill Neibch Falcon Classic and battled the hosts into overtime of the championship game before losing 57-55.
The loss snapped St. Charles East's 10-game winning streak. Marissa Urso hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Sara Rosenfeldt had 28 points.
"We really played well but there's definitely things we need to work on in the last game," said Rosenfeldt, who poured in a career-high 38 points Tuesday against Geneva and is now just 5 short of 1,000 in her career. "Rebounding and stuff. But we're getting there and hopefully it pays off in the playoffs."
Good things come in threes: Geneva (12-1) and Kaneland (12-2) both finished third at Montini and Ottawa, respectively.
The Vikings navigated a minefield of elite teams at Montini that included six of the top seven in the Daily Herald Top 20. Geneva's only loss came 65-60 to No. 1 Montini in a game tournament MVP Margaret Whitley made nine 3-pointers as the Vikings rallied to take a lead in the final minute.
"I was real happy with the way we looked there," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "We had talked prior to going into that tournament of what our expectations and goals were and I told the kids I think you could win this tournament and I've never said that to another team. We had confidence we could play well there and the kids really showed they can stay with those teams."
Geneva defeated Hersey by 8 and Rolling Meadows by 6.
"I think we showed everyone we are serious and ready to go far this season," Whitley said.
Kaneland came within a 43-40 loss to Ottawa from advancing to the title game. Jenni Weber helped the team bounce back by drilling nine 3-pointers and scoring 31 points in a 60-39 win over Lincoln-Way West in the third-place game.
Four score: Hampshire (9-6) turned heads at the 34th annual Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown. The Whip-Purs beat Burlington Central 40-38 and Fenwick 54-50 to reach the semifinals before running out of gas scoring 26 and 29 points, respectively, in losses to Maine West and Stevenson.
"Playing four games in four days against this kind of competition will wear you out," Hampshire coach Mike Featherly said.
Maggie Goad and Rachel Dumoulin both made the all-tournament team for Hampshire.
Other local players on the all-tournament team included Burlington Central freshman Kathryn Schmidt, Bartlett's Kayla Hare, Lizzy Olsem and Anna Davern from St. Charles North, and host Dundee-Crown's Paige Gieseke and Allison Michalski.
South Elgin (10-6) also finished fourth at Riverside-Brookfield, losing the final three games by 2, 3 and 2 points.
Good consolation: St. Charles North and Dundee-Crown both bounced back from opening losses at the Charger Classic to win two games and meet for the consolation championship.
A 21-4 third quarter was the difference in the North Stars' 58-43 win that gives the team a 3-game winning streak and 10-6 record heading into the new year.
Lizzy Olsem and Anna Davern led the way with 18 and 17 points, respectively.
"It was a great way to finish the tournament," Davern said. "We took the edge of losing that first game and took it out the next three teams we played. Now we want to take that into the second half of the season."