Scouting Fox area girls basketball holiday tournaments
How strong is the field at Dundee-Crown's annual Komaromy Christmas Classic?
Take South Elgin.
The Storm are 12-1, their only loss by 7 points to undefeated Dundee-Crown in the title game at Thanksgiving.
Yet South Elgin finds itself without one of the top eight seeds of the 16-team field.
"Unreal field of teams," Storm coach Dan Mandernack said. "We believe we are a part of the best Christmas tourney in the state."
This is the 37th edition of a tournament known for excellent girls basketball and unforgettable moments like Naperville Central's Candace Parker's first dunk in a game.
"The Christmas tournament has such a history," Dundee-Crown coach Sarah Miller said. "We have kept it competitive year after year. We just have top quality teams. The group of teams we've had so many years has developed a rich tradition and history and I feel grateful I have an opportunity to host it."
South Elgin opens play at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 26 against New Trier.
"We are very excited to see what we can do and embracing some challenges that we will have," Mandernack said.
Unfortunately, one of those challenges is once again overcoming the loss of Aryanna Williams, who tore her ACL in a recent win over St. Charles North. The senior, who was averaging 13.9 points per game, also suffered a season-ending injury her junior year when she broke her ankle.
Freshman Raina Yang took Williams' spot in the starting lineup, but it's going to take a group effort to make up for such a big loss.
"She's (Yang) playing out of position, guarding girls way taller," Mandernack said.
And it certainly won't be easy at Dundee-Crown where the field includes defending state champion Maine West, Fenwick, Trinity and many more.
"It's a great learning experience and will only help come the end of the season and into the playoffs like it did last year," Mandernack said, referencing a double overtime win over Barrington in the regional finals and a close loss to Boylan in the sectionals.
St. Charles North opens the tournament playing Stevenson at 10 a.m. Hampshire takes the court after South Elgin when the Whip-Purs face Maine West at 1 p.m.
Host Dundee-Crown, undefeated at 9-0, concludes the first day with an 8:30 p.m. game against Buffalo Grove.
The Chargers could play teams like Lake Park, Naperville Central and Fenwick if they keep winning, and they wouldn't see Maine West unless both reach the championship game.
Like South Elgin, the Chargers also are dealing with a potentially serious injury. Three-year starter Gianine Boado injured her knee Dec. 10 against Burlington Central. She is going for an MRI Friday with the results expected Monday or Tuesday.
"This is one of the years that is so competitive with a lot of teams with zero or one loss," Miller said. "We are keeping our fingers crossed (with Boado) but absolutely no idea. Really hoping for the best."
Montini also has an excellent field that includes Fox area teams Geneva, Huntley and Batavia.
After years of playing the 8 a.m. game the day after Christmas, the Vikings (8-0) have been moved all the way back to the final game, an 8:30 p.m. matchup against York. With a win, Geneva likely would face Montini -- the Daily Herald's No. 2 ranked team.
No. 1? That would be Benet, ranked 14th nationally by MaxPreps, who also is in the field at Montini.
Huntley opens play against Montini and Batavia plays Evanston.
West Aurora, Bartlett, St. Charles East, Jacobs and Elgin are all headed to Wheaton North's Bill Neibch Holiday Classic.
The Blackhawks, who started the year 8-0 before losing to Naperville Central on Monday, earned the No. 2 seed behind Downers Grove North and play St. Charles East in their tournament opener Monday. Bartlett is seeded third and could meet their former Upstate Eight rival in the semifinals.
Mackenzie Hare (20.7 ppg) and Lexie Sinclair (19.3 ppg) lead the Hawks.
"I expect a lot of very tough competition as always," Hawks coach Joe Eirich said. "The field is really stacked with some great teams and individual players. Wheaton North would also be a fun measuring stick because of our two great battles last year."
While the majority of area teams are playing in one of those three tournaments, there are a couple other interesting trips to watch.
Aurora Christian, off to an 11-0 start led by Plainfield North transfer Anna Griffin, is playing in the Peotone Blue Devil Holiday Classic.
The Eagles could have a matchup Friday against Danville Schlarman, who has won the last two Class 1A state championships.
Burlington Central, off to an 8-2 start with its only two losses to undefeated teams Geneva and Dundee-Crown, will play in the Boylan Christmas Tournament.
While most tournaments last four or five days, the Rockets are part of a different format with games on just Dec. 28 and Dec. 30, but teams play twice both days. Burlington plays Eastland, the No. 1 ranked team in Class 1A, and Dakota (8-2) in pool play Dec. 28 with bracket play Dec. 30.
"It's going to be some good basketball," Rockets coach Collin Kalamatas said. "We're excited to see some different schools from different areas that are going to be really competitive. We want the competition to prepare us for February and March."
Junior Elana Wells leads the Rockets in scoring averaging 18.3 points per game. With 962 in her career she's on pace to get to 1,000 at the Boylan tournament.
Rosary and St. Edward are both headed back to the Lisle Holiday Tournament.
Several teams won't wait until next week to get started with their holiday tournaments. That includes Crystal Lake South at McHenry, Kaneland at Ottawa, and Streamwood and Cary-Grove at Libertyville.
Gators coach Mark Mucha said he likes completing tournament play before Christmas.
"These kids need a break," Mucha said. "Being high school kids they need to go have time with their family. There's a little rust come January but it's a long season."