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Tri-Cities All-Area girls basketball team
By John Lemon | Daily Herald Staff

Mackenzie Bollinger


Jackie Cardona


Liza Fruendt


Rachel Hinchman


Paige Jordan


Alexis Nelson


Sami Pawlak


Ashley Prost


Ashley Santos


Karly Tate


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Published: 3/8/2012 11:51 PM

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Mackenzie Bollinger

Aurora Christian

There wasn't much this versatile junior didn't do for the Eagles as evidenced by her ranking as one of the area's leading scorers at 12.1 points a game, rebounders at 6.4 a game and defenders at 3.7 steals a game. Along with Alyssa Henzel she helped Aurora Christian stay competitive in the Suburban Christian Conference despite not having the depth as many of their opponents. Her coach Jerry Tokars sure appreciated the myriad of ways Bollinger could impact the outcome. "A player that most teams were concerned about stopping or controlling going into a game," Tokars said. "Could ignite on offense. Solid rebounder. Dangerous defensively. Hit some big shots for us this year."

Jackie Cardona

Aurora Central

Leaving Aurora Central as the school's second-leading all-time scorer with 1,214 points, this honorable mention Class 2A all-stater went out with a bang averaging 13.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.5 steals a game. Shot 76.1 percent at the line (147 for 193). That followed a 12.4 scoring average as a sophomore and 14.8 as a junior - yet coach Mark Fitzgerald said his star always preferred finding the open teammate more than scoring herself. "Jackie always wanted to pass for a basket more, she always wanted to assist a teammate," Fitzgerald said. "She was very unselfish." Fitzgerald said several colleges are recruiting Cardona but she has not decided.

Liza Fruendt


Few players could take over a game like this sophomore guard. Whether stepping back to hit a 3 or scoring on a runner in traffic, Fruendt was the No. 1 concern for Batavia opponents. Her explosiveness was evident in the seven games this year she scored 20 or more points while finishing at a 14.2 average for a Batavia team that won five more games than her freshman season. Earned all-Upstate Eight Conference River honors and all-tournament at both Morton and Oswego. "She had a real solid season," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. "She's going to be a special player. Some pieces we have to keep working on but she's going to be a special player when it's all said and done."

Rachel Hinchman


One of the most improved players in the area, Hinchman elevated her game from super sub as a junior to a go-to scorer, ballhandler and pressure defender in her senior season. Averaged 11.4 points a game plus 2.9 assists and 3.2 steals while shooting 67 percent from the free-throw line and making 20 three-pointers. Earned All-Conference honors for a Geneva team that went 12-0 in the Upstate Eight River and 24-6 overall and then won its fourth straight regional championship. "From her junior to her senior year she improved so much," Vikings coach Sarah Meadows said. "I always joke with her in practice she's clutch. You need something, you talk to Rachael and she got it for you. Really quiet kid and she plays so hard."

Paige Jordan

St. Charles East

Whether stroking 3-pointers from behind the arc, scoring in transition at the basket or using her quickness to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line, opponents had their hands full trying to slow Jordan. She finished averaging an area-best 14.5 points a game for the Saints. Shot 66 percent from the free-throw line and made 56 three-pointers while also averaging 1.4 assists and 1.4 steals a game. "Paige had a nice year," St. Charles East coach Lori Drumtra said. "She was our most consistent scorer and our go-to person when we needed a bucket. I think she added a few new weapons to her arsenal besides her ability to shoot the 3 - and did a better job of penetrating the lane."

Lexis Nelson

West Aurora

All-DuPage Valley Conference, all-tournament at Wheaton North and the Warhawk, this senior guard finished her career hitting 60 three-pointers and averaging 12.2 points, 3.4 assists and 2.5 steals a game. Ended with 758 career points while leading the Blackhawks to a third-place finish in the DVC and the Wheaton North Christmas Tournament and setting school records for 3s in a season and career. "Lexis really became a leader her senior year," West Aurora coach Connie Siljendahl said. "She led with her presence on the court, team play and scoring. She will be hard to replace." Nelson is headed for a visit to Wagner College in New York where Siljendahl believes Nelson will be offered a Division I scholarship.

Sami Pawlak


If a shot attempt missed the mark at a Geneva game this year, there's a good chance this athletic, aggressive junior forward came away with the rebound. Pawlak, a tenacious rebounder, also created havoc with quick hands on defense as evidenced both by her averages of 9.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals a game. On the offensive end this all-UEC performer developed into a consistent scorer for Geneva finishing at 11.5 points a game thanks to her quick first step on strong moves to the basket and her ability to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line (158 attempts). "Double-doubles, tons of those," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows, who also praised Pawlak for her off-season work. "From her sophomore to junior year was huge. She made huge strides and was a major part of our team."

Ashley Prost


This junior forward didn't take long to adjust to varsity basketball. She led the Knights in scoring at 10.3 points a game, almost three better than anyone else. Prost could knock down all kinds of midrange shots to get her points, or get to the free-throw line, or hustle for a second-chance basket as her team-leading 4.7-rebounding average attests. Prost also helped key Kaneland's aggressive defense with a team-best 42 steals. It all added up to just what Knights coach Ernie Colombe needed for his team to reach a sectional championship game in a 20-10 season. "She was the best player on the sophomore team last year and I think she got a lot of confidence playing that way," Colombe said. "I think she stepped up offensively and defensively."

Ashley Santos


A torn ACL cut this Marquette-bound senior's season short, but Santos did plenty in her first 19 games to earn her third straight spot on the Tri-Cities All-Area team. Santos led Geneva in scoring at 14.3 points a game and showed her all-around game with 2.7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2.4 steals and over a block a game. Earned MVP honors at Geneva's Thanksgiving tournament and MVP of the Upstate Eight Conference River Division. "Ashley is an all-around great player," Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. "She can play the post, she played guard for us. Defensively she was fantastic. She was a great leader by the way she plays basketball so hard and when kids see that they want to follow suit. She set the expectation pretty high and the kids want to reach that. A lot of energy comes from her."

Karly Tate


You hear all the time about players who are tough. Tate took it to another level, overcoming an emergency appendectomy in the middle of the season to lead Rosary in most categories. In just her second game back from having her appendix out this junior forward tossed in 20 points against St. Francis on her way to finishing with a 12.7 scoring average plus 6.6 rebounds, 1.7 3s and 2.8 steals a game - all team-highs. Also hit Downers North with 22 points including 17 in the fourth quarter. "To be able to come back that quick from that injury says something about her work ethic and the kind of kid she is," Rosary coach Dave Beebe said. "Hopefully some of the others will follow her lead. And she's one of the better rebounders in the area."

All-area roster

Player School Pos. Yr.

Mackenzie Bollinger Aurora Christian G Jr.

Jackie Cardona Aurora Central F Sr.

Liza Fruendt Batavia G So.

Rachel Hinchman Geneva G Sr.

Paige Jordan St. Charles East G Jr.

Alexis Nelson West Aurora G Sr.

Sami Pawlak Geneva F Jr.

Ashley Prost Kaneland F Jr.

*Ashley Santos Geneva G/F Sr.

Karly Tate Rosary F Jr.

* - Honorary captain

Special mention

Amanda Hilton (St. Charles East, so., G); Michaela Loebel (Geneva, so., G); Katie Ryan (Batavia, jr., F); Alex Silverman (St. Charles North, jr., G); Ashley Wilk (Aurora Central, sr., F).

Honorable mention

Tesa Alderman (Aurora Central, sr., G); Alyssa Andersen (Aurora Christian, so., F); Courtney Bila (Rosary, sr., G); Megan Booe (St. Charles North, sr., G); Dazmine Chaney (West Aurora, sr., G); Kelly Evers (Kaneland, sr., C); Miranda Grizaffi (Batavia, jr., G); Alyssa Henzel (Aurora Christian, sr., F/C); Taylor Jacobsen (West Aurora, so., G); Liz McNally (St. Charles North, so., F/C); Tamar Norville (Batavia, sr., F); Allyson O'Herron (Kaneland, jr., G); Madison Richmond (Rosary, jr., G/F); Lisa Rodriguez (Aurora Central, jr., G/F); Katilyn Rosa (Aurora Central, sr., F/C); Liz Skaggs (West Aurora, so., F); Morgan Vyzral (St. Charles East, jr., F); Kyra Washington (St. Charles East, fr., G/F); Natalie Winkates (St. Charles North, jr., G); Abriya Zietz (West Aurora, so, F).

Starting five

Liza Fruendt, Paige Jordan, Jackie Cardona, Ashley Santos, Sami Pawlak

Past captains

1998: Molly Jones, St. Charles

1999: Katy Issel, Batavia

2000: Karen Bauer, Geneva

2001: Nicole Manny, St. Charles East

2002: Lindsey Koehn, Geneva

2003: Jill Krivacek, Rosary

2004: Claire Sheehan, St. Charles East

2005: Claire Sheehan, St. Charles East

2006: Bailey Hansen, Geneva

2007: Taylor Whitley, Geneva

2008: Kelsey Smith, St. Charles North

2009: Taylor Whitley, Geneva

2010: Kat Yelle, Geneva

2011: Kat Yelle, Geneva

2012: Ashley Santos, Geneva

The champions




Aurora Central, Geneva, Kaneland


Aurora Central


Aurora Central

The future

Teams to watch in 2012-13

Geneva, West Aurora, St. Charles East, Kaneland, Batavia