2017-'18 Season Coverage
updated: 1/9/2017 8:19 PM

Family tradition working well for No. 3 Geneva

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From the Whitleys to the Yelles to the Santos' and more, the decade-plus run of success for the Geneva girls basketball program has been fueled in part from a few families with more than one exceptional player.

And there's more on the way.

Opponents thanking their lucky stars they won't have to deal with senior Grace Loberg after this season might not like to know the 6-foot-2 center and Wisconsin volleyball recruit has a younger sister Anna who will be a freshman at Geneva next year.

Or those who remember Janie McCloughan, a starting forward on Geneva's state team in 2014 and a three-year varsity stalwart, has a younger sister Kelly who also will be a freshman next year.

Vikings coach Sarah Meadows likes how that success breeds more success, with plenty of grade school girls at many of the Geneva home games.

"I feel we are about tradition and some of that is because we have kids who sit in the stands and watch what we do," Meadows said. "They want to do that when they are older and keep it going."

Geneva, currently 13-2 and No. 3 in the Daily Herald Top 20, also wins with outstanding chemistry. You won't see many teams score more on backdoor cuts that point guard Stephanie Hart says happen so frequently because of how well the players know each other.

"We have four starters tonight who have been playing together since fifth grade," Hart said after Geneva improved to 6-0 in the UEC River Friday by dominating St. Charles North. "Madison (Mallory) the transfer we've been playing travel with many years ago. We all know how to work with each other and when someone is guarding you tight go back door and we have really good team bonding and we know what everyone can do and it helps us on the court to do what the defense is not wanting us to."

All those easy baskets make life easier for Meadows.

"That's (the backdoor cut) the first look," Meadows said. "We don't always get it. Maddie (Yelle) is so quick. We want to make the defense pay for how they are going to guard us. I think our kids do a really nice job sharing the ball and looking at what the defense gives us. They play well together. Some of these kids have been playing together forever."

Saints-Stars rescheduled: The St. Charles East at St. Charles North game that was cancelled this past Saturday due to the flu outbreak at SCE has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.

Two-team race: It looks like Jan. 26 is the date to watch in the Northeastern Athletic Conference.

That's when Harvest Christian travels to Aurora Christian in a game that should decide the title. The teams played over the holidays at the Alden Hebron tournament with the Lions winning 39-26.

Harvest, who most recently beat Rockford Christian Life 44-20 behind 26 points from Alyssa Iverson and 10 from Maddy Martin, is 12-3 overall, 4-0 in conference.

The Eagles are in first at 5-0, 12-4 overall. They came into the season with two returning starters, and they start three juniors -- Paris Chaney, Alexandra Fry and Megan Hart -- and two sophomores -- Tori Henning and Dannielle Lopez. Freshman Noelle Chaney is the sixth man.

"We are having a season, that at this point, I would say has exceeded expectations," Eagles coach Burney Wilkie said.

Henning leads the way, averaging 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 2.6 assists. Chaney played well at the Christmas tournament to raise her averages to 9.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 steals.

Wilkie called Fry a pleasant surprise.

"We knew she had potential to play really well for us, but as is the theme with our team, I am surprised just how quickly she is doing it," Wilkie said. "Alexandra is a great defender that really stymies opponents whether we are in man or zone."

Fry has 53 steals and 65 deflections. She is averaging 6.3 points, 4.4 assists and 3.5 steals.

Like Wilkie, Lions coach Rich DeTamble likes the way his team has been playing.

"We have been playing very good team basketball," DeTamble said. "Alyssa Iverson and Katie Kaldenberger have been very consistent and the play of newcomer Gracie Ozburn has been impressive. Her speed and endless energy has really disrupts other teams. We really stress tough defense in our program. The girls are believing in the team concept and not taking any plays off. Freshman Maddy Martin has also provided us with much positive heart and hustle."

The Lions are looking forward to a nonconference game this week when they go up against Arizona-recruit Marlee Kyles and Larkin.

"We pride ourselves on playing much bigger schools in the regular season hoping for benefits come postseason," DeTamble said. "(Larkin) Coach (Steve) Knapp has Larkin playing their best basketball of the season. They could easily have 5 more wins under their belt as they have had some close losses. We know Marlee very well. We have been watching and playing her since she was a freshman. Right now, I have not seen a better guard in the state. Holding her under 25 would be positive for us. If she is not Ms. Basketball in the state, I would be very surprised."

Growing pains: Having graduated the school's all-time leading scorer Hannah Frazier, who wrapped up her four years at Batavia last winter with over 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, the Bulldogs knew they had some big shoes to fill.

Three other senior starters graduated, so Batavia coach Kevin Jensen was prepared for some ups and downs -- especially with the Bulldogs still playing a killer schedule that includes the Montini Christmas Tournament and last Saturday at Fremd's Chicagoland Showcase.

The Bulldogs have indeed taken some lumps, entering this week on an 8-game losing streak and 5-12 overall.

"Overall, I'd be lying if I didn't say we are struggling right now," Jensen said. "However, we have played some great halves against great teams in the last couple weeks. We just haven't been able to completely finish each game."

Two of those good halves came against Geneva and Hersey but both times Batavia got blown out in the second half.

"We played a great three quarters against Oak Park, including the best quarter (third) all year for us," Jensen said. "We just couldn't hold on in the fourth. Our goals right now are strictly improving to be prepared for postseason play."

There's been some bright spots for Batavia including sophomore guard Hailey Orman, who is averaging 8 points per game. The sharpshooter has made five 3-pointers in a game three times, and has made two or more 10 times.

Ava Sergio also has been stepping up. After averaging 4 points a game in the first 6 games, Sergio is at 9 points per game since including 10 against Geneva, 16 vs. Elgin, and 10 against both Lake Zurich and Loyola.

"She has been improving dramatically as the season has continued," Jensen said.  

Sophomore Geddy Rerko is leading Batavia in both scoring and rebounding.

"That's with her battling a sickness most of the year," Jensen said. "Hopefully as she's beginning to feel better, she and our team can get on a good run."

Tight races: There's not many races closer than the Fox Valley Conference.

Huntley leads at 5-1, but the Red Raiders have plenty of competition. McHenry and Cary-Grove are 5-2, and Hampshire, Crystal Lake South and Jacobs are all 4-3.

"There is still a lot of conference games left to be played and a lot to be decided," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "There is so much parity in our conference this year and all of our games so far have been very competitive, and I anticipate that being the same down the stretch of the season. It's a really tight conference race and it's imperative to protect your home floor which we have done so far and be ready to compete and try to set the tone on the road."

It's still early in the Upstate Eight Valley, but West Aurora and South Elgin are on a collision course both at 3-0.

Blackhawks coach Connie Siljendahl said Essence Rayford and Keva Tomas have both had some big scoring games lately, including 15 for Tomas in a win over West Chicago last week.

"Ki Rogers is coming back from an ACL injury and is doing a great job," Siljendahl said. "Playing strong defense, getting steals and scoring two or three baskets a game."

Tough tests: Aurora Central Catholic finished 3-5 at the Marian Catholic and Oswego East tournaments over the holidays and played six Class 4A schools. The Chargers defeated Neuqua Valley and Thornwood and lost to Downers Grove South, Thorton, Metea Valley and Bloom.

"While it was tough playing these big schools I feel that it will really help us at tournament time and when we get back into conference play," said Chargers coach Mark Fitzgerald, whose team returned to conference play with a 72-28 win over Ridgewood on Saturday.

"Best news is that all our key contributors are now healthy and I feel we are ready for the stretch run. Taylor Harazin has in particular been playing very well."

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