Streaking St. Edward shoots to top of Metro Suburban
Who has the hottest of hot hands right now in the Fox Valley area?
That distinction belongs to the St. Edward girls basketball team that at one point was 3-9 overall, but thanks to a 12-game winning streak sits at 15-9 overall and leads the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division with an 8-0 record.
St. Edward recently won the Elgin City Classic with a 4-0 record that included a title-game win over Larkin (plus wins over townies Elgin, Westminster Christian and Harvest Christian).
The 12 wins date back to coming out of the Lisle Cage Classic with a Jan. 4 win against Wheaton St. Francis.
Coach Michelle Dawson's group is using a community approach to achieve this success with seniors Brooke Biggins, Alexia Alfaro, Delany Nolan, Delaney Lutzow and freshman Maggie Jarzemsky lending key helping hands.
Biggins averages 20.5 points per game, while Alfaro is at 8.8. "Brooke takes on most of our scoring responsibilities on the court," Dawson explained.
To start the week, Biggins was sitting at 1,469 career points.
"Alexia, Delaney Lutzow, Delaney Nolan and Maggie do many of the intangible things on the court to help us get the wins: assists, rebounding and taking on tough defensive assignments," Dawson added. "Our success these past three weeks has been because of the chemistry our team has developed along with each player understanding her role on our team and working to play that role at a high level."
Also worth a mention, St. Edward is doing all of this with 8 players on the varsity roster (6 seniors and 2 freshmen).
Burlington Central update:
In a year of talent-rich teams in the Fox Valley area, the Rockets are among the very elite, sitting at 14-7 overall and 8-1 in Fox Valley Conference play as of Wednesday, playing a schedule stuffed with elite opponents.
Coach Collin Kalamatas' squad has won seven of its last eight with that only right-column check mark coming to Whitney Young.
"We are playing really well right now and are starting to figure out our identity coming down the home stretch," he said.
Kalamatas pointed out his team has lost to Whitney Young, Geneva, Loyola, Nazareth and Batavia and just beat a strong South Elgin team 44-34, "for a nice resume builder," he said. "It was nice to get one against a team with 18 wins already."
Taylor Charles recently recorded a pair of triple-doubles within a week of each other against McHenry and Hampshire. "Taylor has definitely stepped up with her defense and efficient 3-point shooting (42% from 3)," Kalamatas said.
Junior Sam Origel also has been a factor in recent games. "Sam is starting to put it together as well," Kalamatas said. "Sam is a talented perimeter defender with an ability to score at the rim and from the 3-point line."
The Vikings lead the DuKane Conference with a 9-0 mark and sit at 18-4 overall.
"The rest of the way for us is tough," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "Our conference is so solid. Our last three weeks of the regular season is going to be fun."
Cassidy Arni and Zosia Wrobel have stepped it up. "Cassidy and Zosia are really playing well for us," Meadows said. "We are a team-first group, and our kids are really understanding that right now. Everyone knows their role and what is expected of them."
South Elgin update:
The 12-0 Upstate Eight Conference-leading Storm dropped a couple of close games, losing to Prospect by six points and Burlington Central by 10.
"Those were two close, tough losses to very solid teams on the road," coach Dan Mandernack said. "We learned a lot playing very good teams on the road, hoping all the tough non-cons will help us with the final push into the postseason."
Mandernack noted South Elgin has been dealing with injuries and protocols, but seniors Ella Winterhalder and Caroline Croft, a pair of returning all-UEC players, and junior Chole Kmiec have been rocks.
Mandernack pointed out Winterhalder is ranked No. 1 in the state by one online statistical service for charges taken with 34. She also went over the 1,000-career point barrier recently and her 203 three-pointers made are the most in school history, regardless of gender. She's the fourth girl to score a grand in Storm history.
"For all the points and offense, for Ella to sacrifice for the team taking charges like this says a ton about her character," said Mandernack, whose team is 19-5 overall.
Some interesting stats for the Golden Eagles, who were 12-11 overall and 6-4 in Fox Valley play through mid-week: Mackenzie Leahy is averaging 5 steals per game; Jacobs shot 22-for-27 from the foul line in a win against Hampshire.
"It was one of our best team wins of the year," coach Jon Reibel said.
Leahy (22 points), Ari Corrado (11 points), Leslie Argomaniz (8 points) and Ella Tamburrino (8 points) provided balanced scoring in that game for Jacobs, which also beat Crystal Lake Central in recent conference play.
Reibel said Addison Gurney also has been key with great minutes off the bench and big baskets and rebounds in recent close games. Anelise Rodriguez and Tamburrino have provided outside scoring of late.
St. Charles North update:
Junior Alyssa Hughes broke the school's all-time 3-pointers made record. She's at 112 and counting.
"Alyssa continues to be rock-solid at the point guard position," North coach Mike Tomczak said. "She continues to build on the best season of her career."
Erin Stack's buzzer-beater in a recent DuKane win over Lake Park was another key recent highlight for North, which was 14-10 overall and 4-5 in the league through mid-week.
Sophomore Reagan Sipla also has been a bright spot. "Reagan continues to mature and increase her impact on the game," Tomczak said. "Her scoring has become more consistent as she has looked to go inside more, and her rebounding improves every game."
More Fox milestones here as Larkin's Baylei Johnson went over the 1,000-career point mark against South Elgin. She finished the game at 1,001 points. She's averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game for coach Steve Knapp's squad, which was 9-12 overall and 6-6 in Upstate Eight action at mid-week.
Emily Lukowski had 20 points and 11 rebounds in a recent non-conference win against Rolling Meadows. Lukowski is averaging 17 points per gmame over her last five games. Coach Tony Moretti also likes the recent play of Annika Nordin and Maddie Scharrenburg.
"Annika plays a lot of minutes as an undersized big and is getting 9 rebounds a game and Maddie has kept us in games with her willingness to take over games," said Moretti, whose team was 13-7 overall and 6-4 in the Fox Valley through mid-week.
The Royals, who average 14 steals a game, were 7-2 in Metro Suburban Conference Blue Division action at mid-week and 16-8 overall. Rosary beat Harlem in double overtime to take third place at the Byron MLK tournament and also downed Aurora Central Catholic in a rivalry game on senior night by overcoming a 16-4 first-quarter deficit.
Emily Hurst had a career-high 25 points against Harlem. Hurst and classmate Lauren Hawkins have been key cogs for Rosary. "Emily and Lauren, our senior leaders, have been our rock the entire season," coach Emily Duckhorn said. "We play cohesive basketball with players accepting their role, which is the reason we have found success the past five games."
Hurst averages 14.1 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals a game.
St. Charles East update:
New coach Josh Foster said the team's recent win over Lake Park was huge for the Saints. "It was big for us after the coaching change and COVID pause," he explained. "It was a turning point fur us."
Emma Yakey hit four 3-pointers in the team's recent game against Jacobs. East was 13-5 and 5-4 in DuKane play through mid-week.
Over the last five games, Foster said Torrie Kortan, and sophomores Alexis Maridis and Lexi Diorio have been major difference-makers.
"Torrie has been huge for us as a leader in her senior year, and especially in the past month," Foster said.
Kortan is averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals and goes to the free-throw line almost 10 times per game.
"Alexis and Lexi are our two stellar sophomores and have been helping us dictate the pace of the game," Foster said.
Maridis averages 5 assists and 5 rebounds, and Foster pointed out at 5-2 she is the team's second-leading rebounder. Diorio is the team's second-leading scorer at almost 10 points over the last five games, "and as a defensive presence on the perimeter, he said.
Foster added East has forced around 18 turnovers and has gone to the line 20 times in the last five games, "which has translated to more successful team basketball for us," he said.
Senior Anisha Patel has averaged 7 points per game over the Maroons' last four games and had a career-high 11 points against Larkin. Freshman Izzy Castro has averaged 6 points per game over her last four and also had a career-high with 10 points against Larkin.
Whips coach Eric Samuelson is effusive in his continued praise of Lia Saunders and her scorebook-aside great worth to the squad.
"A lot gets focused on points scored for individuals, which I understand, but Lia is relentlessly tough and a great teammate," he said. "Hands down, Lia Saunders embodies everything we are trying to accomplish as a program right now. She plays excellent defense on the other team's top scorer, attacks the basket and finds open teammates. She embraces and owns her role as a defender and facilitator, and is an incredibly supportive teammate. Lia's stats do not jump off the page, but her effort and coachability is certainly evident every time she hits the floor of late."
Hampshire has also received help from the likes of Avery Cartee, Ashley Herzing, Kaitlyn Milison and Whitney Thompson, among others. Hampshire is limiting opponents to 32 percent shooting from the floor and forces around 18 turnovers a game, Samuelson pointed out.
Cartee, only a 10th grader, had games of 16 and 17 points recently. "She continues to grow and do what we ask," Samuelson said. "It's been fun coaching her so far."