Its the best of times, its the worst of times.
Thats been the tale of two area programs.
Both Wheaton Warrenville South and Metea Valley are enjoying among the best seasons in their respective programs histories. Success is bittersweet. Both programs have lost two starters to ACL tears.
Just last Thursday, WW South senior guard Sierra Bisso went down with an ACL injury during the first half of a win over Naperville Central. She joins Tigers junior Maggie Dansdill on the shelf. WW Souths entire program has lost six kids to major knee injuries.
Its getting to the point where theres nothing you can do to these kids. I dont know what to say, said WW South coach Rob Kroehnke, himself on the mend from a broken leg suffered over the holidays. If its something I had an answer for Id fix it.
Still, WW South is 21-3, 20-1 over its last 21 games, leads the DuPage Valley Conference by a game over Wheaton North and last week earned a No. 1 sectional seed. The Tigers do have Diamond Thompson and Kelly Langlas back healthy as they welcome Fenwick to Wheaton on Tuesday night.
You have to say we are used to it by now, but its something theyve dealt with and keep coming back stronger than ever, Kroehnke said. Weve had a saying, excuses or results? Weve had many opportunities for excuses, but we just keep getting results.
Metea Valley is 19-5, the best year in the young programs history. Ten days ago, though, at the McDonalds Shootout, the Mustangs lost senior guard Bria Walker to a torn ACL. Walker is the second third-year varsity starter to tear her ACL, along with Anna Petersen.
This is not how we pictured things going coming into the year, Metea coach Kris Kalivas said, but the kids have worked hard and those two have contributed. All we can hope for is that it continues on into regionals.
Without Walker, Kellee Clay moved into the Mustangs starting lineup and Sydney Bobo was moved up from the sophomore team. The scoring load falls on Lori Obendorf, Nia Flowers and Jenny Voytell.
Its the same thing, Kalivas said, we have to have kids step up, be willing to fill roles and do it with the same confidence as we had before. We have to believe that we can still win and be competitive.
Hornets abuzz in Gold:
File this under pleasant surprise.
Graduating four starters, few had Hinsdale South pegged to repeat as champ in the West Suburban Gold.
After wins over Willowbrook and Downers Grove South, coupled with Willowbrooks overtime loss to Morton Saturday, the Hornets are a game up with winnable games left against Proviso East and Leyden this week.
Thats what everybody is asking, is, Did you expect this? The answer is honestly no, Hornets coach Jen Belmonte said. We didnt expect to be in this position. Its a nice treat.
A treat to watch this month has been Toni Romiti.
Hinsdale Souths senior guard has averaged 28.3 points a game over a six-game win streak. She scored 30 with seven 3s against Willowbrook and followed that up two nights later with 32 against a Downers Grove South box-and-one defense designed to stop her. A big block of a Downers Grove South 3-point attempt in the third quarter sparked the Hornets.
Belmonte said she gets five to six phone calls or emails a day from colleges showing interest in her unsigned senior.
Toni knows her future is correlated to how she plays right now, Belmonte said. I told her Ive never seen her play like this before. Shes been in some kind of a zone.
Overshadowed some, but not overlooked by their coach, is Romitis supporting cast. Mackenzie Kern scored 13 and 14 points, respectively, against Willowbrook and Downers Grove South, and Kristin Dimitrijevic and Kerry Just are key in giving the Hornets second shots.
Glenbard Norths defining moment:
Glenbard Norths John Chamberlain, in his fifth year leading the Panthers program, got what he called a defining moment Saturday. Glenbard Norths 37-36 win at Naperville Central was the programs first over the Redhawks since 2005, punctuating a five-game winning streak.
Weve been saying to the girls how they can beat teams they are better than, but how about beating the teams that are better than you. Thats what they did, Chamberlain said. Its great to see the fruits of your labor realized. Definitely a program win.
Chamberlain pinpoints three areas where his team has improved since Christmas. One, confidence. Two, is effort.
The most significant thing, though, is finding other scorers to balance Katie Wisniewski. Laila Pickens scored 12 points against West Aurora and 10 versus Naperville Central, and Caitlyn Deegan had 9 on Saturday, including a big 3 that capped the decisive 11-0 run.
Wisniewski has elevated her game as a senior. The 6-foot-4 post is averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds.
Weve seen it in practice for three years. When we divide teams her team always wins, because you literally cannot stop her, Chamberlain said. Now you are saying the same kid in practice and in games. I think she was carrying a lot of weight of expectations, and shes finally turned the corner. Shes playing with a lot more freedom and joy. Its great to see.
Noteworthy about pairings:
The IHSA released its girls basketball playoff pairings last Friday. A couple interesting nuggets can be gleaned from it. No. 3 sectional seed Naperville Central could have to beat Benet on its home floor to win a regional. Similarly No. 2 seed Neuqua Valley, which swept Metea Valley in conference play, could have to beat the Mustangs a third time at Metea.
And in Class 3A, Montini is lined up to play Vernon Hills in one state semifinal in what would be a rematch of last years title game. That would set the stage for Montini to meet Joliet Catholic and ex-Bronco Jasmine Lumpkin for the 3A championship.
Follow Josh on Twitter@jwelge96