The new & the old -- Morton, Dundee-Crown couple of the best tournaments around
The Lake Zurich girls basketball team will get its filling of high-quality competition over the holidays.
The Bears are part of one of the more highly talked about holiday tournaments at Morton Junior College in Cicero. Lake Zurich, 8-5 through its first 13 games, faces Deerfield in the first round Monday at 6:30 p.m. Lake Zurich is the No. 7 seed, while Deerfield is the 10 seed.
"I would argue it's the best field in the state," Bears coach Chris Bennett said.
Bennett pegs the likes of Benet, Bolingbrook, Kenwood, Marist and Joliet West as top-tier contenders. Bolingbrook (No. 3), Benet (No. 5) and Kenwood (No. 6) were ranked in the first Associated Press Class 4A Top 10 rankings earlier this month.
Bennett's squad is led by senior guard Alayna Soukup, who averages 9.8 ppg, and sophomore forward Anna Gilbertson, who is at 8.8 ppg.
"We want to compete against some of the best teams in the state and start to build momentum heading into the second half of the season," Bennett said.
The Stevenson girls basketball team has proved it belongs squarely in the conversation as one of the Chicagoland area's top teams heading into the holidays.
The Patriots were 12-1 and started North Suburban Conference with five straight wins. Stevenson now takes center stage at one of the traditionally strongest holiday tournaments around, the 38th Komaromy Classic hosted by Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville.
Stevenson, the tournament's top seed, was to open play Monday at 1 p.m. against Maine West.
However, the Daily Herald learned Wednesday that Maine West and New Trier have pulled out of the tournament due to COVID protocols.
"The field is really strong this year," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "Us, Barrington, South Elgin, St. Charles North, Maine South, New Trier and Fenwick, I'm sure, are rounding out some of the top seeds this year."
Stevenson is powered by the likes of Simone Sawyer (16 ppg, 2.1 spg), Emory Klatt (15.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg) and Ava Bardic (12.8 ppg).
"I would like to see us continue to take steps forward as individuals and as a team," Graham said. "We pride ourselves on doing things the right way and sticking to the process of challenging ourselves mentally and physically to be our best. It is important we enter the second half of the season on a good note and this tournament is a steppingstone to doing so. We have some things to shore up offensively and defensively, and we are looking forward to having time over break to do so."
Carmel is playing in the large-school division at the State Farm Holiday Classic in Bloomington. Corsairs coach Ben Berg tabs top seed Morton as the favorite with Normal, Carmel (No. 3 seed) and Geneseo also in the mix. Berg said Mother McAuley is a sleeper team in the field. Morton (Class 3A No. 2), Normal (Class 4A No. 8) and Geneseo (Class 3A No. 4) appeared in the first AP state rankings earlier this month.
Senior Grace Sullivan leads Carmel in scoring at 14.5 ppg, while junior Jordan Wood is at 13.5 ppg.
"We want to try and improve on a daily basis and learn to be the best version of ourselves," Berg said. "Basketball-wise, specifically, we want to become the best defensive team we can be."
Carmel opens play Monday at 3 p.m. at Bloomington High School against No. 14 seed Peoria Richwoods.
At St. Viator:
Grayslake Central is part of the Blenner Classic hosted by St. Viator in Arlington Heights where Rams coach Steve Ikenn said the host Lions, Prospect and Chicago Resurrection are the favorites heading in.
Central, which opens play Monday against at 5:30 p.m. against Chicago St. Ignatius, is paced by Madison Hoffmann (9.4 ppg) and Monica Schleg (8.4 ppg). The Rams won their first three Northern Lake County Conference games.
"I would like to see us get healthy so we can develop some more consistency," Ikenn noted. "Players have had to shuffle roles a lot in this young season. The benefit was it gave more players experience in different situations. The downside was it made it hard to develop that chemistry that every team strives for. Our goal for the Blenner tournament and beyond is to start getting healthy and playing with more consistency like I know we can."
The Bulldogs are in the midst of hosting a four-team tournament at the Benedetti Center Fieldhouse. Play concludes Thursday with Grant hosting Deerfield at 5:30 p.m. and Warren squaring off with Waukegan to conclude the round-robin format.
Host Grant has received strong play of late from MaCalyn Flores (13.3 ppg), Cora Hughs (10 ppg) and Alyssa Sandquist (8.8 ppg).
"In this tournament we are competing against competitive teams," Bulldogs coach Anna Bartels said prior to the tournament. "I would like to use this tournament as a challenge for my girls to see what they can give. I want to see them work on weaknesses as team, and for each player to challenge themselves by trying something new and stepping out of their comfort zone."
Antioch heads to the Lisle Cage Classic on Monday. The Sequoits drew the No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 seed Wheaton Academy at 5 p.m.
Due to COVID protocols at Mundelein and Niles West, Libertyville was forced to change its schedule. The winner of Wednesday's game between Libertyville and Cary-Grove will now meet Conant in the title game at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday. Wheeling will play the winner of Wednesday's Vernon Hills vs. Streamwood game at the same time.
The host Wildcats opened the tournament with a 62-21 win over Vernon Hills. Emily Fisher had 17 points and 6 blocks while Kate Rule had 10 points. Libertyville then defeated Streamwood 47-10. Freshman Madison Sears had 12 points. Fisher had 11 points and Rule added 8 points.
Prior to the tournament, Libertyville downed Mundelein 57-29 to move to 4-1 in North Suburban action. Sophia Weick, on her birthday, had 8 points, including 2 three-pointers. Heading into the Mundelein game, Fisher was leading the team in scoring at 14.4 ppg, while Rule was at 8.5 ppg.
Vernon Hills, off to a 3-1 Central Suburban North start, has been paced this season by Alexa Cieslinski and Grace Koepke, who both were around 12.5 ppg heading into the tournament.
Round Lake, Wauconda, Lakes and Grayslake North completed play in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic hosted by McHenry where the Round Lake reached the title game, losing to Prairie Ridge. The Panthers have been led by the likes of Lilli Burton (13 ppg), Amari Cole (12 ppg) and Taylor Major (10.5 ppg).
Lakes coach Brian Phelan, whose team was off to a 2-0 start in Northern Lake County Conference play, pointed out heading into the tournament that his team was going to be tested with five games in a five-day stretch.
Janae Pullen and Jessica Oman had 15 points each in a 57-36 win over Marengo at McHenry. Clarity Turney added 10 points. Nia Wright scored 28 points and Turney had 11 in a 58-47 loss to Chicago Amundsen. Kendall Phelan had 11 points in a 64-35 loss to McHenry. Phelan and Oman each had 10 points in a 48-31 loss to Woodstock North.
Grayslake North's Peyton Gerdes was averaging just under 20 points heading into the tournament.
"We have a pretty inexperienced team has far as varsity play, so hopefully we have learned what kind of intensity it takes at this level," North coach Roger Lass said. "We have a great group of girls with a lot of potential that just need to apply things we work on during practice to games."