Cook County girls basketball notes: Junior class making big contributions at Schaumburg
After a solid second-place finish at the Wheaton North tourney to end 2022, Schaumburg's girls basketball team kept the momentum heading into 2023.
After the 3-1 run through their Christmas tourney, the Saxons won their first three games of the new year.
Notable play has come from six juniors: Madi Dolecki, Grace Schluckbier, Audrey Schluckbier, Jada Branch, Symone Harrell and Emma Jevtic.
Wheaton North all-tourney selection Dolecki led the charge averaging 13 points and 8 rebounds a game. She also leads in steals.
Grace Schluckbier, averaging 9.8 points per game, is a key player on both ends of the court. Harrell, averaging 7.5 points and 7 rebounds, had a huge double-double to help the Saxons overcome a fast-paced Waubonsie Valley team at the WN tourney.
Branch (7.1 ppg), also an all-tourney pick at Wheaton North, continues to control the offense with fellow point guard and defensive specialist Audrey Schluckbier. Emma Jevtic (4 ppg and 4 rebounds) contributes off the bench.
Maine South's girls basketball team features one of the youngest starting five in the area.
But that hasn't kept the Hawks from landing success.
At 18-3, they are on track for a second straight 20-win season under coach Jeff Hamann.
Hamann sends out two juniors (Ava Blagojevich, Meegan Fahy) and three sophomores (Katie Barker, Asia Kobylarczyk, Ally Pape).
The Hawks won three games in less than 24 hours last weekend, defeating New Trier (65-48), Carmel (46-39) and Lincoln Way East (77-62). Fahy scored a combined 75 points in the three games, including a career-high 30 points along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists against New Trier.
"We are young," said Hamann, now in his fifth season. "This team has really come together over the past month and has been playing very well as a team. We are proud of the fact that the entire team is extremely unselfish and they are always looking to share the ball with each other."
For example, nine different Hawks had at least one assist in a win over Prospect. Each of the five starters had at least two assists. Nearly 70 percent of the team's field goals are assisted.
Fahy leads in scoring (14.7 ppg) but the others are bunched with Barker (9.7), Blagojevich (8.9), Pape (8.7) and Kobylarczyk (6.1).
"I believe this balance makes us more difficult to prepare for," Hamann said.
When Rolling Meadows posted a 62-39 triumph over Elk Grove, the two head coaches were hardly strangers.
Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky coached at Elk Grove from 2011 to 2015 and one of his key players is current first-year EG coach Courtney Lindfors.
Kirkorsky was hardly surprised when Lindfors was named the Grens coach.
"She was a very team-oriented person," Kirkosky said. "She was very unselfish and just wanted to see her teammates do better so I'm sure she does that for her team as well. I'm really excited that she has this opportunity and I'm sure she'll do a great job."
Despite being in her first year on the varsity, junior Ciara McMahon has been leading the Mustangs with her nearly 15 ppg scoring average, including a career-high 29 points.
"She was up with us last year in practice," said Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "She did it every day (showed scoring potential) and obviously we had some good senior guards in front of her last season. But she has just worked tirelessly to get to this point and when the lights came on from game one, she was ready to do it. She has performed exceptionally well."
The 33rd annual Coach Kipp's Hoopsfest provided some thrilling action over the past weekend just like the late Derril Kipp, for whom it is named, did in his career for Maine West girls basketball.
The hall of fame coach, who won 778 games in 35 seasons, also brought a 35-0 Class AA state title to the program in 1986.
Four years later, when Jim O'Boye decided to start a girls basketball showcase event, he got a little assistance from Kipp.
"Steve Tucker, who was writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, knew that I was thinking about starting this event," O'Boye explained. "And my daughters were going to be freshmen at Immaculate of Heart of Mary with (hall of fame Tigers coach) Dave Power so the three of them (Tucker, Power and Kipp) got together."
Then one Sunday afternoon, Kipp called O'Boye.
"Derril said, 'I heard you were thinking about doing this thing and if you do run this event in season, I will help get you teams,'" O'Boye said. "He said 'I will bring you Maine West, I will go talk to Dorothy (Gaters, Marshall's legendary coach) and I'll go talk to all the good coaches and teams in the city and etc. and I'll help you get this thing started.'"
The rest is history. For the past 33 years, some of the top quality girls basketball teams in the country have competed in O'Boye's long-running showcase over Martin Luther King weekend.
"I had a four-year plan," O'Boye said. "When my daughters got out of high school, I thought I'd be done. But I had started doing it and kept doing it, and I didn't realize we'd still be doing it today."