The Class 3A and 4A girls basketball postseason tips off Monday, and three Fox Valley teams enter as the No. 1 seed in their sectional or sub-sectional.
Geneva leads the way as the No. 1 seed in the Class 4A Glenbard West sectional. The Vikings (22-4), ranked fourth in the Daily Herald Top 20, have won eight straight regional championships. Included in that run are five sectional titles and two trips to the state tournament. They dominated St. Charles East 69-48 Friday night to win the Upstate Eight Conference River Division.
This year's squad looks capable of a third state appearance. Their last one came in 2014 when center Grace Loberg was a freshman.
Now a senior, the Wisconsin-volleyball recruit is averaging 13.0 points and 10.2 rebounds. In her first three seasons, Loberg has improved her numbers significantly in the postseason, and she will look to do that again against potential opponents including eighth-seed Glenbard West, No. 4 St. Charles East and No. 2 Wheaton North or No. 3 Rolling Meadows.
Junior guard Margaret Whitley leads Geneva in scoring at 14.6 ppg. She scored her 1,000th career point Tuesday in a win over Elgin.
"Going into playoffs we have to keep the goal in the back of our head of what we want to accomplish at the end of the season," Whitley said. "During practice that's what we focus on. We have to keep pushing it."
Last year Geneva reached the sectional finals before losing to Montini, the top-ranked Class 4A team in the AP state rankings. This year the Vikings won't see Montini again unless both teams make it to state.
"I don't want to look too far ahead but we're playing well right now," Vikings coach Sarah Meadows said. "We're playing well when we need to play well."
No. 4 seed St. Charles East, No. 6 St. Charles North (18-9), No. 10 Bartlett and No. 15 Batavia are also in the Glenbard West sectional. The Saints (22-5) host their own regional and could play Wheaton Warrenville South next Thursday for a regional championship and possible rematch against Geneva in the sectional semifinals.
South Elgin (20-7), fresh off its first conference championship winning the Upstate Eight Valley, also earned a No. 1 seed in Class 4A. The Storm are seeded first in their sub-sectional of the Hampshire sectional and will open play Tuesday against either No. 6 Jacobs or No. 8 Larkin in the Class 4A Larkin regional.
Larkin and Jacobs meet Monday with Royals standout Marlee Kyles 27 points away from 2,000 in her career.
Other Monday games include No. 7 seed Huntley vs. No. 8 Harlem and No. 5 Streamwood against No. 11 Elgin. Streamwood star Jenejha Williams won't play after picking up two technical fouls Friday night.
The Storm features the highest scoring 1-2 punch in the area in Mackie Kelleher at 15.9 points per game and Teagan Pompa who averages 13.3 points.
As a team South Elgin averages 56.2 points a game which ranks behind only Geneva (63.7), St. Edward (62.0) and St. Charles East (56.4).
Other potential postseason opponents for the Storm include fourth-seed Cary-Grove (16-11), led by junior Katie Sowa who averages 16.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. The Trojans shared the Fox Valley Conference championship with Huntley, Hampshire and Dundee-Crown.
Rockford Boylan is the top seed in the other Hampshire sub-sectional. The Titans entered the week 25-1 and ranked No. 5 in the state.
Hampshire (17-10), led by Rachel Dumoulin's 14.1 points per game, could end up playing Boylan for a regional title, and if Dundee-Crown (16-11), which is on an eight-game winning streak, can get past the likes of McHenry and Crystal Lake South, the Chargers would likely face the Boylan-Hampshire winner in the sectional semifinals. Dundee-Crown seniors Paige Gieseke and Allison Michalski average a near identical 10.6 and 10 points, and 5.6 and 5.7 rebounds a game, respectively.
Class 3A: The final local No. 1 seed is Kaneland in Class 3A. The Knights beat Burlington Central last Saturday in overtime to clinch their second straight 20-win season.
Morgan Weber, the lone senior in Kaneland's rotation, scored 20 points in that game while Jenni Weber has upped her season average to 15 points a game thanks to her deadly outside shooting eye; her 60 3-pointers this season lead a tight race among area players.
Even better for Kaneland (20-6) is the Knights are hosting their sectional this year. If Kaneland can prevail at the IMSA regional, which could feature a matchup against Rosary (14-14) led by Lauren Smith (10.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg) in the championship game, the Knights get to come home and play on their own court.
"We're looking forward to regionals and seeing if we can make a run," Kaneland coach Ernie Colombe said. "It's a big goal. Our first goal was conference, Yorkville had a heck of a season. We moved on to trying to get 20 wins, we did that, and our next goal is to finish the season strong and win a regional and beyond."
Rockford Lutheran is the top seed of the other sub-sectional that feeds into the Kaneland sectional, and included in that group is No. 5 Aurora Central Catholic and No. 7 Burlington Central.
Rockford Lutheran is among the teams receiving votes in the Class 3A state rankings. Senior center Taylor Harazin leads the Chargers at 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, while freshman Kathryn Schmidt tops the Rockets at 16.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a game.