Fremd's Chicagoland Classic field stacked again
Fremd's state-ranked girls basketball has already been west to Hampshire and east to Indiana, facing some of the top teams in the Midwest.
On Saturday, coach Dave Yates and the Vikings will welcome more top teams from Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana into their very own gym for the power-packed Chicagoland Classic.
More than a dozen games will be contested in the main and south gyms beginning at 9:30 a.m. with Neuqua Valley vs. Carmel and ending with a 7:30 p.m. contest featuring the Daily Herald's top-ranked two teams in No. 1 Hersey (5-1 through Monday) and No. 2. Benet (4-1).
In between are Lake Zurich vs. Huntley at 10 a.m., St. Charles North vs. Bolingbrook (11:15 a.m.), Batavia vs Marian Catholic (11:45 p.m.), Deerfield vs. Homewood-Flossmoor (1 p.m.), Butler vs. Naperville North (1:30 p.m.), Barrington vs. Geneva (2:45 p.m.), Lyons Township vs. Sycamore (3:15 p.m.), Fremd vs Stevenson (4:15 p.m.), Corpus Cristi, Ind. vs. Rolling Meadows (4:45 p.m.), Nazareth vs. Notre Dame Academy, Wis. (6 p.m.) and Lincoln-Way Central vs. Montini (6:30 p.m.).
"We have another great field of teams and so many great matchups," said Yates, who has been running the event for the past eight seasons.
Yates' Vikes (5-0 through Monday), the 2020 Class 4A state champs, will face 2022 Illinois state champion Stevenson (3-1).
"We also have the state champs from Wisconsin coming in (Notre Dame Academy)," Yates said. "We are expecting 13 great games."
In winning the inaugural Doreen Zierer Turkey Tournament at Hampshire, Fremd placed Ella Todd, Maddy Fay and Ellie Thompson on the all-tourney team.
The Vikings followed their tourney title with a 78-51 triumph over Jennings County in Indiana as sophomore Ellie Thompson (17 points), senior Nikki Gonella (16), sophomore Ella Todd (15), senior Kace Urlacher (10) and senior Maddy Fay (8) led the way.
Fremd features three college basketball recruits with Fay (Northern Illinois), Urlacher (IUPUI) and Gonella (Carthage) while senior Sam Bodensteiner is a Duke soccer commit.
Fremd defeated three teams at Hampshire who have been listed in the state polls (Lake Zurich, Geneva and Sycamore).
"We're very happy with our start," Yates said. "I have been very impressed with our shooting. We have already had games where we made eight and nine 3-pointers."
Greg Pedersen is the former girls golf coach at Libertyville High School.
Now in his 11th season as the Wildcats girls basketball coach, Pedersen has a freshman who is on par to be a mainstay in the Wildcats' backcourt for four years.
Pedersen, who has had only three other girls play four years of varsity basketball, has been impressed by the early results from 5-foot-3 Sophia Swanson, who scored 12 points in the Wildcats' final win over Buffalo Grove at the Bison Classic last weekend.
"It was Sophia's second game and she was really on a roll in the first half. So we are really proud of her," Pedersen said. "She is a good ballhandler. She plays up-tempo. What we like a lot about her is that she is competent with the basketball and she is a good shooter. She is an exciting player to have. The kids really love her and she is fitting right in."
Pedersen also likes the progress of junior guard Kate Rule, who leads the team with nearly 14 points per game.
"Kate is taking big steps forward,'' Pedersen said. "She can score from inside and out and she is a tough kid. Katie is scoring at a pretty good clip now and teams are still obviously trying to double and triple team Emily (Fisher, Maryland recruit) and that leaves some opportunities for other people."
The Wildcats went 3-2 at the Bison Classic.
"We come to this tournament to get ready for the regular season and conference season and that's where we are at. We are ready," Pedersen said. "We had good competition. We feel pretty good coming out of here getting ready for whatever is next."
Only a sophomore, Maine South's Katie Barker drew praise from coach Jeff Hamann for her defensive prowess at the Buffalo Grove Bison Classic where the Hawks went 3-2 with an all-underclassmen starting lineup.
"Katie had the assignment of guarding (Libertyville's) Emily Fisher (Maryland recruit), (Barrington's) Sophie Swanson) (Purdue) and Katy Eidle (Michigan) and she was absolutely magnificent," Hamman said. "We ask a lot out of her being a sophomore.but she did not back down from that challenge.
"Katie does not back down. She is not afraid. She's very athletic, and she is tough mentally and physically. She has long arms and is a good athlete. So when you have that combination it makes you a very good defender."
Barker also tossed in three 3-pointers for 9 points against Hersey.
"She worked very hard on her shot in the offseason," Hamann said. "And she has improved significantly on that."
Juniors Meegan Fay and Ava Glavbojevich were named all-tourney for Maine South.
"We love this tourney," Hamann said. "We faced three top 10 teams in the area and it was an honor to do that. We showed ourselves that we can compete with the top teams."
Hersey senior guard Kelsey Neary is headed to the University of Connecticut to play lacrosse but the Huskies veteran has quite the skills for basketball, especially defense.
"Kelsey's defense is relentless," said Hersey coach Mary Fendkey after guiding her team to a third straight championship in the Buffalo Grove Bison Classic.
"Her defense is such a difference-maker for us. It doesn't always show up in stat sheets but she has the ability to wear people down and she is doing that consistently against some of the top players in Illinois. The spark that she gives us by running things on defense is so valuable."
Neary also found time to provide the offensive spark in Hersey's win over Maine South for the championship.
The Huskies missed their first 17 shots until Neary tossed home a 3-pointer with 7:30 left in the second quarter to get the Huskies to within 12-7, igniting an 18-6 second-quarter advantage for the state contenders who won 60-49.
Countdown to 500:
Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro (492-412) is just eight wins away from becoming the fourth coach in the Mid-Suburban League to win 500 games, behind Tom Dineen of Buffalo Grove (810), Carol Plodzien of Fremd (558) and Mary Fendley of Hersey (513).
Winning so many games was never a thought in the mind of the hall of fame coach Barreiro when she began her career in Barrington in 1993.
"Truthfully, I never think about stuff like that," said Barrerio, an Elk Grove and Indiana University graduate.
"It's just really fun to be a part of a program. That's what sports has always been for me, a chance to be part of a team and a chance to collaborate on something that's exciting and fun. And it teaches you an awful lot about life.
"I have had incredible support from my family which comes to every game," she added. "I'm just lucky I got the opportunity to student teach at Barrington and then got to stay at the school. I got the head job when I was young at 25 or 26, and I just feel really lucky to have been able to do this."
Barreiro's 30th team is off to a 3-2 start, getting wins over Maine South and Libertyville.
"We love coming to this tournament because most every game is a good one,": Barreiro said. "This is a good gauge because you get to play a variety of competition. It's a good measuring stick to see where your kids are at. We still certainly have some pieces to put together. As we try to explain to the kids, it's a marathon not a sprint. We did some good things and have some gaps we have to fix which I'm confident we will."
With three freshmen, six sophomores and only two seniors, veteran coach Steve Ikenn has one of his youngest teams in 13 seasons at Grayslake Central.
"The young kids are coming along quickly," said the former Stevenson assistant coach. "But coming along quickly for freshmen when you're playing the likes of Katy Eidle (Hersey), Emily Fisher (Libertyville) and Sophie Swanson (Barrington), that's hard."
The Rams went 1-4 at BG.
"There are a lot of good things to come from three kids," Ikenn said. "We have a freshman point guard, too, so that makes it doubly tough.
"The nice thing about these kids is that they're not hanging their heads after games. They are recognizing where they need to improve and we're going back to practice and work on those things."
Klatt leads way:
Junior Emily Klatt, who played a key role in Stevenson's Class 4A state title last March, struck for a career-high 34 points when the Patriots improved to 3-1 with a 54-26 triumph over Phillips at the New Trier tourney. She also grabbed 20 rebounds.
Lake Zurich sophomore Molly Friesen (11.5 ppg, 3,5 rebounds) and senior Baylie Parks (8.3 ppg), 5.8 rebounds) were named to the all-tourney team at the inaugural Doreen Zierer Turkey Tournament at Hampshire.
Rolling Meadows (5-0) won the championship of the Hoffman Estates Pilgrim Classic Thanksgiving tourney as Charlotte Ericco, Roisin Grandberry and Ciara McMahon were selected to the all-tourney team.
Prospect went 3-1 at the York tourney as Skylar Splinter made it on to the all-tourney team.