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Tri-Cities girls basketball season in review
by John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/7/2011 11:04 PM

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Aurora Christian

Final record: 7-19, 2-8.

Postseason: Lost 30-29 to Westmont in Class 2A Lisle regional semifinals.

Key returners in 2011-12: A Mackenzie Bollinger, so., F; Alyssa Andersen, fr., F; Alyssa Henzel, jr., F; Sarina Oleson, jr. G; Lisa Rodriguez, so., G.

Season wrap: With a new coach, Jerry Tokars, the Eagles overcame a slow start and a key player leaving the team for a strong finish led by a number of players who will be back next year. At 1-12 at one point this season, Aurora Christian went 6-6 in its next 12 games before losing a heartbreaker in the regional semifinals. Tokars is excited about what this group can do next season, taking the momentum from this year's second half and building on it.

Aurora Central

Final record: 19-10, 7-3.

Postseason: Beat Rosary 49-45 to win Class 3A IMSA regional. Lost 55-22 to Belvidere North in Class 3A Burlington Central sectional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Jacqui Cardona (jr., G); Ashley Wilk (jr., F); Katilyn Rosa (jr., F/C); Alex DeCraene (so., G); Jill Huseman (jr., F/C).

Season wrap: Could there possibly be better news for the Chargers than a season they set a school record for wins and won the first regional championship in school history? If there is, it's that almost every player responsible for it will be back next season. Cardona averaged 15 points a game and should finish as the school's all-time leading scorer. Wilk averaged 10 points and 5.5 rebounds and Rosa 9.6 points and 7.1 rebounds. Among the many highlights for this year's team was a 64-54 win over Rosary, the first time the Chargers have defeated the Royals since 2001. They then followed up with another win over Rosary in the regional finals. Despite the blowout in their final game Fitzgerald had a positive message for his team. "I can't take away from what the girls in that locker room did for this program this year. Yeah, we had a bad (sectional) game there's no doubt about it. But they are always going to be that team that did the first regional, the best record. They are always going to be that team."

Batavia

Final record: 8-19, 5-6.

Postseason: Lost 64-48 to St. Charles East in first round of Class 4A St. Charles East regional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Liza Fruendt, fr., G; Miranda Grizafi, so, G; Sami Villarreal, jr., G; Tamar Norville, jr., F; Michaela Strehlau, jr., G; Mariah Zwart, jr., F/C; Katie Ryan, so., F; Erina Mayram, fr., C;

Season wrap: The Bulldogs had their share of ups and downs this year. After a 1-8 start to the season, a pair of last-second wins over St. Charles East highlighted Batavia's better play. Coach Tim DeBruycker will have most of his team return next year other than Katie Baglieri and Maddie Sychta, two seniors who had their share of big games this year. Fruendt earned all-tournament honors at Oswego over the Christmas tournament and is one of the players Batavia will build around. "What are these girls going to do better?" DeBruycker said. "Don't think you started every game, don't say I'm where I want to be. Let's say, 'I want to get better.' We need those girls to improve. Then hopefully we'll get Sami (missed nearly the enitre season with a knee injury) back. That will help us to have that one more weapon."

Geneva

Final record: 25-7, 11-1.

Postseason: Beat St. Charles North 52-31 to win Class 4A St. Charles East regional; beat Rockton Hononegah 70-60 and Cary-Grove 55-53 to win the Class 4A Jacobs sectional. Lost 46-36 to Zion-Benton in Barrington supersectional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Ashley Santos, jr., G; Sidney Santos, fr., C; Rachel Hinchman, jr., G; Sami Pawlak, so., F.

Season wrap: The Vikings gave their fans many more memories this year. A sesaon that started with their coach Gina Nolan fighting to regain the strength to return after eight rounds of chemotherapy after finding out June 9 she had cancer ended with a third straight sectional championship. A season filled with close losses to a tougher schedule during the year paid off when the Vikings won a pair of hard-fought games at the Jacobs sectional. Nolan returned to coaching full-go in January after Tim Pease filled in for the first half of the season. Geneva peaked at the right time winning 10 straight games until a cold shooting night against Zion-Benton gave Geneva two straight season-ending losses in the supersectional. Eight seniors will be hard to replace, especially Yelle who went 88-10 as a starter the past three years and scored 1,421 career points. "It's nice the time I've had with these kids and how much they have supported me. It means a lot. To accomplish it through all we've been through together on and off the court is great," Nolan said. "Winning takes talent but repeating takes character," Nolan liked to quote from John Wooden. "I'd like to think our girls and our program has a lot of character," Nolan said. "In those adverse times in games that's what gets us through relying on each other. We've had to rely on each other for a lot more than basketball this year. Considering the beginning of the season I could barely get off the couch and now I'm standing on the sidelines I know personally I think me physically and the team we surpassed what many people expected us to. I told the girls we should be proud of what we accomplished. It's never easy losing at the end but there's not many teams who can say they have won three sectionals in a row."

Kaneland

Final record: 13-15.

Postseason: Lost 30-27 to Wheaton Academy in Class 3A St. Francis regional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Kelly Evers (jr., C); McKinzie Mangers (jr., G); Tess Alderman (jr., G); Emma Bradford (so., F); Marina Schaefer (fr., F); Lexee Guerra (so., G).

Season wrap: After an 8-game improvement, the Knights are poised for a bigger climb next year thanks both to these returners, a sophomore team that went 25-1 and a freshman team that went 24-0. Among the highlights this season was a 2-2 finish for fourth place at Oswego East, including a win over South Elgin to put the Knights in the winner's bracket for the first time. "We are real happy with the progress we have made with the program," coach Ernie Colombe said. "In our first year we won a total of 15 games between all three levels. This season we wound up with 62 wins in the program. We are thrilled with the commitment we are getting from our players in terms of how hard they are working and the amount of time they put in. We feel like we can continue to improve next season and into the future as well. We know that the summer will be very important for us in terms of the improvements we need to see before we come back in the fall." Colombe credited departing seniors Emily Heimerdinger, Andie Strang, Nicki Ott and Trinae Coachman for "stepping up for us and providing a lot of leadership. Our juniors will have big shoes to fill... and we feel like they will accept the challenge."

Rosary

Final record: 12-15.

Postseason: Lost 49-45 to Aurora Central in Class 3A IMSA regional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Courtney Bila (jr., G); Madison Richmond (so., G); Karly Tate (so, G).

Season wrap: Every coach wants to see his team play their best basketball at the end of the season, and that's just what the Royals did. Standing at 5-14 after the first loss to Aurora Central, Rosary went 7-1 in its next 8 games with the only loss to Montini. "The last time we lost to these guys (ACC), it didn't look like we were going to win any in a row. We won six in a row to get to this point," Royals coach Dave Beebe said of getting to the regional championship game. Rosary has talent coming back but will need to replace three senior starters Brenda Rocha, Rachel Rivera and Breann Maryanski.

St. Charles East

Final record: 11-18.

Postseason: Lost 82-45 to Geneva in Class 4A St. Charles East regional semifinals.

Key returners in 2011-12: Paige Jordan (so., G); Amanda Hilton (fr., G); Morgan Vyzral (jr., F/C); Annie Martines (jr., G); Laney Deckrow (so., G/F).

Season wrap: After a 4-11 start, coach Lori Drumtra was excited to see all her promising young players pick it up for a 7-7 record after Christmas. Jordan averaged 12 points a game and Hilton 10.7 to give the Saints a powerful returning backcourt. Vyzral also came on strong inside, and Drumtra is excited about the players coming up from the freshman and sophomore teams. "I thought we had a nice second half," Drumtra said. "I liked where we were at at the end of the season. I thought we were playing much better. We really got hit by the injuries this year. It seemed every time we would get some momentum going we would get hit by an injury. I knew going in it was going to be a building year and a learning year so I'm pleased with where we ended up. I think we have a lot to build on. I think we have a nice core of players coming back. We have a lot of kids who saw a lot of playing time. I think that will pay off. I'm very excited about what's coming up."

St. Charles North

Final record: 15-15, 9-3.

Postseason: Lost 51-32 to Geneva in Class 4A St. Charles East regional championship game.

Key returners in 2011-12: Megan Booe (jr., G); Alex Silverman (sr., G).

Season wrap: Another grueling schedule for Colleen Brennan in her second year as coach. For the second straight year, the North Stars' season ended to the same team Geneva in the same game, the regional championship. A 59-57 victory over those Vikings highlighted the year, a game that senior leaders Sydney Russell and Tess Fischer combined for 42 points. Those are just two of the 8 seniors the North Stars have to replace on what should be a much different looking team next year. "Very proud of my girls throughout the season," Brennan said. "We had a very, very challenging schedule. They were very composed and learned a lot and not just about basketball. Basketball really is just a framework for different kinds of growth. These kids will be so successful in a variety of ways."

West Aurora

Final record: 6-20.

Postseason: Lost 61-44 to Naperville North in first game of Class 4A Naperville North regional.

Key returners in 2011-12: Alexis Nelson (jr., G); Dazmine Chaney (jr., G); Liz Skaggs (fr., F); Taylor Jacobsen (fr., G); Erin Jacobsen (fr., G).

Season wrap: The Blackhawks were a streaky team. They started with 11 straight losses but broke out of that in a big way with 5 wins in 6 games including the consolation championship at the Falcon Classic. West Aurora then slumped again going 1-9 in its last 10 games. Coach Connie Siljendahl had an extremely young lineup with nearly everyone back next season. Nelson averaged 10 points a game this year, Chaney 8.6 points and Skaggs 6 points and 8.3 rebounds.