Batavia's Towers among those off to a fast start
The early reviews look like a hit.
We're about two weeks into the return of high school basketball in Illinois, and the positives seem to outweigh the problems, which has included COVID postponements.
Masks, few or no fans, Sunday games, no jump balls ... plenty of adjustments. But so far, so good.
"I think it's going good," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Our kids are used to the mask. We don't really talk about it. They don't say anything, I don't say anything."
Meadows said the benches being so spread out is strange, and the longer break between the sophomore and varsity games to clean reminds her of a sectional semifinal when there is more down time.
There's a mask break, a timeout at the first dead ball every quarter after the five-minute mark. Meadows said that helps.
She wasn't sure how her players would react to wearing masks, so for the first game against Bartlett she didn't use their traditional full-court press. But since then she's realized her kids are handling masks fine and has pressed almost the entire time.
Due to finding enough officials, the DuKane Conference is among those playing Sunday games.
"I'm not going to lie, that is weird," Meadows said.
"I'm just so excited to be playing that I don't care when or what days we play," added Batavia coach Kevin Jensen.
Jensen said he never liked past Friday games when Batavia would play basketball or football after the students had a day off from school. It's similar this year on the days half his team is out of school for remote learning and then shows up at night to play.
"The normal pattern of the day was just thrown out of whack," Jensen said. "I kind of felt like that on our last Tuesday game. At least half the girls were home all day."
Jensen said one adjustment he's made is giving days off on Wednesdays. Then they come back and have two practices to prepare for weekend games.
Meadows, whose Vikings started 3-0 before St. Charles North beat them Tuesday night, wants her players to make the most of these next three weeks plus the rest of the new sports calendar.
"It's just good for the kids," Meadows said. "They get a taste of basketball and hopefully if they play a second sport the seasons are getting a little longer. I just love there are sports back whether we are wearing masks or only have 50 people, I'm just thankful they can play."
Countdown at Burlington:
Burlington Central finished second last year in the Fox Valley Conference by a game to Dundee-Crown, and is off to a great start in its bid to win it this year.
Not only has defending champ D-C lost twice, Burlington's undefeated start includes a win over contender Huntley.
After scoring 13 points against Jacobs on Tuesday, senior guard Elana Wells has 1,464 points in her four seasons. With 13 games remaining, Wells needs to average about 17.2 points for the school record, set last year by former teammate Kat Schmidt (1,687), who has been enjoying a strong freshman season this winter at Lewis University.
Six-foot-4 Tessa Towers continued her strong start to her senior season at Batavia on Tuesday with 27 points in a 70-59 win over Glenbard North. Freshman guard Brooke Carlson added 18 points, drawing comparisons from her coach to one of Batavia's all-time greats.
Both are making quite an impression on Jensen.
"Tessa is moving better than ever, and she has really improved her game," Jensen said. "I think you are going to be hearing about (college) offers rolling in as early as within the next week or so."
Through five games, Towers is averaging 20 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. Carlson averages 15.6 points, 4.2 assists and 1.8 steals.
"Brooke has been the other bright spot," said Jensen, adding Carlson gives him flashbacks to Liza Fruendt's playing days, the 2014 grad who scored 1,921 points before a stellar college career at Missouri State.
"I'm not sure if she'll shoot like Liza did, but she's got that same burst like Liza."