By Pat Brozynski

A little bit of volleyball...and a whole lotta hoops

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Congratulations to Hinsdale Central volleyball coach Sheralynn Kellough, who recently delivered twins. Her team didn't do too bad, either.

Sun-Times All-Area selection Ally Davis was selected as an Under Armour Honorable Mention All American after leading the Red Devils toi their second consecutive regional title, a three-set win over St. Ignatius.

Davis finished her career breaking both the career kills and blocks records at Hinsdale Central. The 6-foot-1 senior finished her career with 1,148 kills (2008-2011) and 170 blocks.

Also, setter Ellie VanKeirsbilck finished second on the school's list of career assists with 1,702 (2009-2011), and Davis, Meg McDowell, Katie Grabowski and Rachael Lenderman were named to all-tournament teams throughout the season for the 20-18 Red Devils.

"Davis, Grabowski, Sanne Hilbrich, VanKeirsbilck and Emily Grasso will be deeply missed next year," assistant coach Maggie Stewart said. "They provided the Red Devils with leadership and determination."

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And now for some girls basketball news....

Kankakee McNamara coach Jeff Bennett unexpectedly resigned last week, saying he wanted to "spend more time with my family," according to Kankakee Daily Journal.

Bennett led McNamara to state final four appearances in 2008, 2010 and 2011. The Fightin' Irish finished third in Class 2A last season, going 23-9. They were 21-11 and finished fourth in 2010 and 22-10 and fourth in 2008.

"Hopefully, the record speaks for itself," Bennett said. "I had the pleasure of coaching a lot a good kids in a great conference, which got us ready for a state tournament run each and every year."

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No surprise here. Hillcrest is off to a 4-0 start after claiming the 6th Annual Rich South Galaxy Tournament title behind MVP Shannise Heady. All the 5-foot-11 senior did was average 15 points, four rebounds, 3.5 assists and four steals in four games.

She had nine points and 11 rebounds against Homewood-Flossmoor, scored 17 points with three steals against Thornwood, got 19 points and four rebounds against Rich South, and scored 15 points with six rebounds and six steals against Lincoln-Way North.

Other contributors included Dana Gettis (14 points per game), Jahmia Phillips (12 points, seven rebounds per game), Samirah Ali (10.5 points, four assists per game), Jasmine Sanders (8.8 points per game) and Mariam Awoniyi (6.5 points, 6-.3 rebounds per game).

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Batavia is not afraid to travel, whether it's the boys traveling to Quincy to experience the Blue Devil pre-game ritual or the girls taking the long and winding road south to downstate Morton near Peoria.

Last weekend, Batavia finished 2-2 at the Morton Thanksgiving tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Freeport (62-57) and Moline (41-39), lost to host Morton (61-36) and dropped a heartbreaker to Normal Community (42-39).

Batavia overcame a 13-point second-quarter deficit to beat Freeport.

Liza Fruendt came up huge in the tournament. She scored 22, 11, 14 and 15 points in the four tournament games. Miranda Grizaffi added 13 points in the win over Freeport.

The Bulldogs are currently 3-2 on the season.

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St. Joseph's Briya Wilborn and Arriel Anderson were named to the all-tournament team at the Willowbrook Thanksgiving tournament. The duo led the Lady Chargers to their second straight Willowbrook championship.

Wilborn averaged 11.8 points, three rebounds and three steals for the tournament. Anderson averaged seven points, four assists and two steals.

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Streamwood lost two key players and 25 points per game from last year's 22-6 team that finished second in the Upstate Eight River Division. But 32-year veteran coach George Rosner welcomes back three starters and an impact sophomore.

Back are point guard Amanda Patterson, a 5-foot-5 senior and four-year starter, 5-9 junior guard Jessica Cerda, who averaged better than eight points per game and bagged 47 three-pointers as a sophomore, and 5-6 junior guard Deja Moore, who averaged 7.3 points per game and is an outstanding defensive player.

Add to the mix 6-foot sophomore post Hannah McGlone, who Rosner predicts will be an impact player for the next three years.

"She is an outstanding young player who will be noticed by everyone," Roser said. "She is the real deal."

However, there is one small problem at Streamwood.

"We must play with five players on the court," Rosner said. "That missing piece is a big piece, and we are short on depth. So we will see how things develop."

***

Zion-Benton is posed for another run at the Class 4A state tournament between its dynamic 1-2 punch of 5-11 senior Octavia Crump and 5-10 sophomore Samantha Rodriguez. Both were starters on the Zee-Bees' state runner-up last season.

Stepping into starting roles off the bench will be former sixth man Morgan Franklin, a 5-9 senior forward, and 5-6 junior guard Kaitlyn Stabenow, Slated to see minutes in the frontcourt are 6-1 senior Aaliyah Smith and North Chicago transfer Lakanesha Robinson, a 6-foot senior forward.

Also expected to contribute are sophomore guards Shania Thompson and Carly Fernandez.

"Defense will dictate how well we do this season," coach Tanya Johnson said. "We are working hard and improving every day. I'm really looking forward to watching the development of this team this season and know we have a great deal of potential."

No. 13 Zion-Benton is off to a 4-1 start and has a key date at Libertyville Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

***

Marian Catholic graduated six seniors including three starters, and lost senior Sarafina Handy and freshman Kauai Bradley to knee injuries over the summer. Bradley is expected to return after the Christmas holidays, but Handy has been lost for the season.

"Sarafina is a wonderful young lady that has given so much to the Marian Catholic program over the past four years and will continue to do so," coach Annie Byrne said. "Unfortunately, it will be from the sideline this year."

Despite those losses, don't expect much of a drop-off, if any, from last year's 30-5 record, including a 9-0 mark in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Marian Catholic will rely on 5-5 senior guard Alanna Ferry, 5-9 forward Amber Williams and 6-1 forward Megan Walsh.

"Alana can do it all," Byrne said. "She is an extremely hard worker who brings the best out of her teammates on a regular basis. She is expecting and demanding big things out of herself and her teammates in her senior campaign."

Williams is a coach's dream...a player who hustle baseline to baseline on every possession.

"Amber is an excellent Leader and communicator on and off the floor," Byrne said. "She is our defensive expert. She has greatly improved her offensive confidence and ability in the offseason. Amber is one of our intangible pieces that makes our puzzle go together."

Walsh will be counted on to provide an inside presence.

"She has worked very hard for the past two years and knows what will be expected out of her this season as she steps on the floor as an upperclassman," Byrne said. "Her foot speed has improved tremendously and her touch around the basket will help us a lot."

Youngsters who Byrne expects big things from include 5-5 sophomore guard Brianna Morrison, 5-7 freshman guard Teniya Page and 5-9 sophomore guard Ashton Millender.

"We have had a lot of adjustments to make, but the girls never cease to amaze me," Byrne said. "They have come so far and are ready for the challenges ahead. We look forward to another fun year of basketball."

Marian Catholic is 3-1 and ranked No. 21.

***

No. 19 Romeoville is off to a 5-0 start on the heels of a 21-7 season one year ago that included a championship of the Oak Lawn Holiday Tournament and a second place finish in the Southwest Prairie Conference.

Back from that team are junior center/forward Kiera Currie (17 points, 11 rebounds per game in 2010), junior point guard Abby Smith (11 points, four assists per game), junior Brianna Harris, senior Hillary Van Meerten, junior Angelica Osusky and senior guard Precious Williams, who is sidelined until January with an Achilles injury.

Newcomers include junior forward Rosalinda Vasquez, senior forward Nicole Ramaglia and junior forward Ceara Floyd.

***

Waubonsie Valley 6-foot-3 post Rachael Ross verbally committed to Radford University last week. Radford is an NCAA Division I program that competes in the Big South Conference.

Ross also visited Memphis, UIC, Bradley, Chicago State and Roosevelt. Ross was sold on the school, size, academics and overall feel, and her family liked the connection and vibe from the coach and team, according to coach Kim Connell.

***

Keep an eye on T.F. North this winter. Although the Meteors lack depth, there is no lack of talent led by Alabama-Birmingham recruit Schneia Battle and Morgan State-bound Sabrina Montgomery.

Other key returners include Sharee Greenlee, Chardae Greenlee and Raven Winburn. The Greenlees are back at T.F. North after playing at Homewood-Flossmoor in 2010.

"This year's team will be challenged by moving up into the Class 4A," coach Tim Zasada said. "We will use a very competitive schedule to get us ready for the state playoffs. We lack depth, but will try to make up for that by getting in shape and playing hard."

***

Providence went 2-3 at Geneva last weekend and came within a point of going 3-2 following a 53-52 loss to Morgan Park. The Celtics led the Mustangs 19-3 early, but fell behind in the third quarter and was forced to play catch-up.

Providence is led by 6-foot senior guard Cassidy Glenn, who is coming back from an ACL injury suffered near the end of her junior season.

Other players to watch include 5-11 junior Alex Shermulis, 6-foot sophomore Anna Novak, 5-10 guard Sam Rohrer, 5-7 freshman guard Alyssa Jurges and 5-10 freshman forward Mary Fashingbaurer.

"Last year our record suffered but our young players earned a lot of playing time and have prepared well to compete this season," coach Eileen Copenhaver said. "We are a little bit older and seem to be more competitive."

***

After losing to St. Edward in the Class 2A regional finals last year, (Elgin) Westminster Christian is happy to be back in Class 1A.

Back from last year's 14-12 team are senior guard Whitney VandenBos, sophomore forward Claire Speweik, sophomore guard McKaila Hays, and senior guard Haley Flickinger.

***

Johnsburg, which has won seven consecutive regional titles and six conference titles in the past seven years, is trying to rebound from the loss of first-team Associated Press and Illinois Basketball Coaches Association all-state selection Melissa Dixon (24 points per game in 2010).

But all is not lost.

"We return our starting point guard and center, and the senior class has won at least 20 games each of their three previous seasons," said first-year head coach Brad Frey, who was the sophomore coach the previous 11 years.

Top returning players include 5-9 senior point guard Morgan Berge, 6-1 senior center Ashley Schuld and 5-10 senior forward Stephanie Cherwin.

Newcomers include 5-5 senior guard Tayelor Neiss, 5-9 junior forward Kallie DiTusa, and 5-4 sophomore guard Kayla Toussaint, the daughter of Johnsburg boys coach Mike Toussaint.

***

With just about everybody back from last year's 25-4 team, Peotone figures to be one of the top teams in the Interstate Eight this winter.

Top returnees include 5-4 senior Caitlin Cann, 5-10 senior Kayce Nagel, 5-6 junior Brittney Campione, 5-7 senior Sophia Ruffino and 5-4 senior Julia Perri. Sophomore Skyler Hall and juniors Claire O'Neill, Shelby Maupin and Kayla Paeth provide depth.

***

Homewood-Flossmoor is off to a 4-2 start while trying to improve upon last year's 22-win season, which included a 10-4 record in the Southwest Suburban Conference Blue Division.

Charnelle Reed, a 5-10 senior guard who averaged 13.2 points per game in 2010, has committed to Western Illinois University. Also back are 5-10 junior guard Sydni Johnson, 5-8 junior Lauren Parker and senior forward Amena Brent.

***

Elk Grove coach Ryan Kirkorsky is excited to start the season, and with good reason - two of them. One of them is 5-10 junior forward Diamond Boyd, one of the top players in the Mid-Suburban East. The other is 6-4 freshman Amber Lindfors.

"We had a strong summer and we feel good about the developing identity of our team," he said. "Boyd and Kelly Naughton are growing into special players and exceptional leaders, and Lindfors is extremely skilled and has fit in well with this group."

***

Montini's 6-foot-4 junior Diamond Thompson has committed to Notre Dame. Thompson sat out Montini's 55-52 loss to Geneva in the finals of the Vikings' Thanksgiving Tournament with a minor injury.

***

Fenwick's Meredith Boardman, a three-year varsity player and one of the area's top 50 players, recently committed to Yale University.

***

Bolingbrook and Niles West will meet at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 16 in the headline game of the 22nd Annual McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School.

Other games of note include Proviso East vs. Hillcrest at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 14; Lincoln-Way East vs. Geneva at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 14; Trinity vs. Marist at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, January 16; and Montini vs. Young at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, January 16

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This page contains a single entry by Back Row published on November 30, 2011 7:12 AM.

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