South Elgin starts season with 6 straight wins
The South Elgin girls basketball team has a lot going for it through the first few weeks of the 2021-2022 season.
The Storm is off to a 6-0 start, including a 2-0 Upstate Eight Conference record, winning those six by an average of 25 points.
Senior Ella Winterhalder, a returning All-Area player, is approaching the 1,000 career-point mark. She's averaging 15 points a game, has hit 25 threes this year and has taken 14 recorded charges.
"It's unreal. She had five in one game," South Elgin coach Dan Mandernack said.
Mandernack also is high on the play of Caroline Croft, another returning All-Area performer who is averaging 14 points a game and sets up the Storm's press defenses. Mandernack noted the Storm runs five different types of presses.
"It's our defense, pressure and deny everything," said Mandernack when asked one thing that has impressed him thus far. "We press 80 percent of the game. They have bought into being relentless on defense and with pressure -- first to the ground. We have won the hustle chart every game. We start five guards and they are all basically point guards."
South Elgin also has been up to snuff on the offensive side of things. "If teams zone, we bomb away," Mandernack said. "We have all good-to-great 3-point shooters. If team's man us, we execute our motion offenses and set really well."
The Storm won the Dundee-Crown Thanksgiving tournament that included a big win over Rockton Hononegah.
Raina Young was a star in the team's recent win over Larkin, setting a school record with 9 steals.
"It's a fun team to coach and watch," Mandernack said.
The Vikings won four of their first six games, beating Burlington Central recently. Their two losses came against highly touteds Sycamore and Naperville North. "We played Sycamore and Naperville North very hard but came up short," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Our schedule is so tough this year."
Cassidy Arni, Leah Palmer and Zozia Wrobel are off to hot starts for Geneva.
"Both are doing a really nice job on both ends of the floor," Meadows said. "They are both playing with a lot of confidence and are fun to watch play the game. Zosia is doing a great job as well. She is playing so hard defensively and crashing the boards hard as well."
West Aurora update:
In the Blackhawks' 57-50 win over Yorkville, Aspen Weeks had 16 points and shot 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. Kayly Jimenez had 14 points and 8 rebounds. Weeks leads the team in scoring at 12.4 points per game.
"Aspen and Kayly are putting up solid numbers for us and work very hard," West Aurora coach Teresa Waldinger said. "Aspen's moves are outstanding and she has an excellent basketball IQ. Kayly is an undersized post at 5-8, but she is a leading rebounder (7.8 per game) and is aggressive inside, and can finish well."
Izabel Valadez is back after not playing the past two years.
"She has stepped right in as a senior almost like no time has passed," Waldinger noted. "Her defense has been outstanding, and she has put up solid points each game. She sees the floor well, leading us in assists in our games."
Valadez had 12 points against Yorkville.
Contributing to the Bulldogs' 6-1 start were the likes of Brooke Carlson, Tessa Towers and Kylee Gehrt. Carlson was averaging 19.1 points per game to start the week, to go with 4.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.6 steals. Towers was at 13.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, while Gehrt was at 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1.3 assists per game and was hitting on 36.4 percent of her 3s.
St. Edward update:
Senior Brooke Biggins was leading the Green Wave in scoring at 19 points per game through the team's first seven games. Senior Alexia Alfaro was averaging 6.3 points per game and was cited for strong leadership by coach Michelle Dawson, whose team was 2-5 to start the week.
"We just fell short from having a couple more wins this season," Dawson said. "Our team has been plagued by injuries and we are hoping to get some good news on a couple players this week."
St. Charles North update:
The North Stars were off to a 5-2 start, which included a 53-44 win over York. Junior Alyssa Hughes is averaging 17.5 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds per game, while senior Erin Stack is at 10 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Sophomore Reagan Sipla is averaging 12 points and 4 rebounds.
"All three girls form a solid foundation for a team that has a great mix of talent and experience," North Stars coach Mike Tomczak said. "We are shooting the ball pretty well and we continue to improve every game. The DuKane Conference is as good as any in the state and we feel we are right in the mix."
The Red Raiders were on a five-game winning streak to start the week, including a pair of Fox Valley Conference wins over Prairie Ridge and Jacobs. Longtime coach Steve Raethz noted Huntley held Jacobs to 4 second-half points in a 54-24 home win.
Key contributors thus far for Huntley include junior guard and three-year varsity player Jessie Ozzauto, who leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points, while averaging 3 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. Senior forward Jori Heard is averaging a double-double at 11 points and 11.2 rebounds per game, while junior guard Morgan McCaughn averages 6.8 points and leads the team in assists.
"Jessie is playing with a lot of confidence and has worked hard to improve her game," Raethz said. "Jori has been so dominant on the glass and has done an incredible job on both ends of the floor. Morgan has been a really steady player in her first varsity season."
The Knights have been led by McKenzie Schueler, who had 18 points against Rochelle over the weekend. "Kenzie shot the ball really well," Knights coach Kelsey Flanagan said. Kaneland is averaging 12 steals per game with Schueler at 2.4 per contest.
Crystal Lake South update:
Kree Nunnally is another member of the area double-double club. She's averaging 15 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Gators (2-4 to start the week, 1-1 FVC). "Kree is the leader of the team on both ends of the floor," South coach Mark Mucha said.
Burlington Central update:
The Rockets were off to a 4-1 start, thanks in part to the play of Taylor Charles and Rylie DuVal. "Taylor and Rylie are starting the season off strong," Central coach Collin Kalamatas said. Charles is averaging 14.4 points and 10 rebounds per game (another double-double area member). "Taylor is more noticeable on the stat sheet, but Rylie has been incredible on the defensive end getting steals and deflections, as well as leading our offense at the point guard position," Kalamatas said. "She's being aggressive getting to the basket and keeping her teammates involved."
DuVal is averaging 9.6 points, shooting 52% from the field and 45% from the 3-point line.
Harvest Christian update: The Lions defeated Schaumburg Christian recently after previously losing to them at the Wheaton Academy tournament. Two key cogs for Harvest have been Madison Ellett and Abby Semerau. "They are our leading scorers, but more importantly they bring great leadership in their captain roles on the team," coach Jeremy Burke noted.
The Whips were 3-4 overall and 0-2 in Fox Valley action to start the week. "We are incredibly young and although I wish we were 2-0 in conference, we are getting better most days," coach Eric Samuelson said.
Sophomore Avery Cartee is averaging 10 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 steals for Hampshire. Sophomore Ashley Herzing is at 12 points per game, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.1 steals, while junior Kaitlyn Milison has gone for 10.3 points and 11.3 rebounds in her last three games. Freshman Chloe Van Horn exploded for 23 points and had 6 rebounds in the final game of the Thanksgiving tournament.