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Waubonsie hits the boards to ground Hawks

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Waubonsie Valley's victory over Bartlett last week that snapped the Hawks' 26-game winning streak in the Upstate Eight Conference had a lot to do with rebounding. The Warriors pounded the Hawks inside led by Tia Brooks and Rachel Ross.

"Rebounding was a key to beating Bartlett," Brooks said. "They're all big girls. They all can rebound. It's nice to win, but we still have some more conference games if we're going to get co-champs with Bartlett. It's also the next step closer to state, closer to Bolingbrook, closer to Benet."

Playing together was also a key for Waubonsie, which suddenly looks like a very strong threat to Benet and Bolingbrook in the Neuqua Valley sectional.

"We said we'd have to play together to beat Bartlett, and that's exactly what we did," senior point guard Becky Williford said. "We moved the ball very well, we got our posts some open shots, our guards hit shots, so it worked very well for everyone."


The indeterminate loss of sixth man Madeline Eilers to a knee injury may change how Benet does business as the season winds down.

"The key without Madeline Eilers - we lack a huge offense attribute," said Benet's Sidney Prasse. "We obviously to make up for that on the defensive end. We'll have to keep working on defense and make key shots that Madeline would have helped us out with. We'll be fine."

Benet coach Peter Paul agreed with his star guard that his team will have to focus more on defense without a key part of its three-headed three-point shooting attack.

"We're learning to adjust without Eilers," he said. "It's a different ballgame for us. She was leading three-point shooter in the area. It was hard to guard us when we had three people who could hit from the arc. It's easier to guard us when we only have two.

"We're a different team now," he added. "We've got to pick it up on the defensive end rather than outscore people. It's an adjustment for us, but we've got a couple weeks to figure things out."


This week's GCAC tournament continues Wednesday with the semifinals featuring Trinity (23-1) and St. Ignatius (17-8) at 5:30 p.m. and Mother McAuley (16-9) and Loyola (20-6) at 7:00 p.m. Both games are at Trinity.

The title match is scheduled for Saturday at 6:30 with the third-place game at 4:00 p.m., also at Trinity


Chicago State University at 95th and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will be the site of the Windy City Championship tournament final Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

The quarterfinals are scheduled for Tuesday at Whitney Young and Simeon with Thursday's semifinals at Chicago State.

Young is the top seed with Morgan Park seeded No. 2, Bogan No. 3 and Lincoln Park No. 4.


Talk about a tough act to follow.

Former Sandburg star and current Lockport teacher Erika Lange has been tabbed to succeed Julia Hudson as the Porters' head girls volleyball coach. Hudson won 857 matches in 32 seasons, winning a state title in 1993 and taking home five trophies from the state finals.

Lange was the sophomore coach the last five seasons at Lockport. She was a leader on Sandburg's 1998 Class AA state championship team and played collegiately at Northwestern, where she broke school records for blocking and hitting.


Matt Callaway, a 6-foot-8 middle/opposite hitter at Wheaton Warrenville South, has committed to play collegiately at Penn State.

Callaway is a three-year starter at WW South. He also plays for the Sports Performance 18 Mizuno team that has qualified for the USA Junior Volleyball National Championships the past two years.

Callaway helped SPVB 18 Mizuno finish fifth in a field of 86 club teams in a California qualifier to earn a bid to this year's USA Junior Boys Nationals scheduled for July in Dallas, Texas.

Sometimes the ball has a mind of its own

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Mama said there'd be days like this...

Hinsdale Central coach Tom McKenna was not pleased with some of the turnovers his team committed during its 54-34 loss to New Trier Tuesday.

"It kind of looked like a bad day in the pool hall," he said. "The ball was going everywhere but it wasn't going in the pocket. It was like somebody hit the cue ball and all 15 balls are flying off the table."


After four years on varsity and 10 games every year against Central Suburban South teams that are thoroughly familiar with you, perhaps no one is looking forward to college more than New Trier's Maggie Lyon.

Or at least playing an occasional nonconference game like Tuesday's contest at Hinsdale Central.

"I would argue that we have the toughest conference in the state," the 6-foot-1 Northwestern recruit said. "We have Maine South, Niles West, Evanston, Glenbrook South, Waukegan...all these great teams, especially playing them so many times.

"This is my fourth time around playing them and their coaches. We know them really well and they know us really well. It's hard to come out with a new offense and new defenses that they don't know.

"It's nice to play new teams like this," she added. "They're a good team. They have good players. It's nice to see somebody different."


Tuesday at Hinsdale Central, New Trier coach Teri Rodgers emphasized working on some things her team did not do particularly well in last week's loss to Evanston.

"We came out in the second half and did some really good things," she said. "Like finishing strong, being a little more aggressive around the basket. The first half we were tentative around the basket and not being as aggressive. We did a much better job of that in the second half."

Despite her team's 54-34 victory, Rodgers is not looking forward to playing the young Red Devils in a year or two when 5-10 freshman Gabrielle Rush, 5-11 sophomore Maddie Roglich, 5-9 freshman Sydney Griffin and 6-2 sophomore Jenna Broz have a little more experience.

"Hinsdale Central is really young," Rodgers said. "I told (Hinsdale Central coach McKenna) Tom I don't want to play him in a couple of years. I really like his point guard (Rush) only being a freshman."


Hillcrest 5-9 senior guard/forward Brittany Wilson has signed a letter of intent to play for Ashford University, an NAIA school in Clinton, Iowa. Wilson averages 4.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game for the 15-2 Hawks. Wilson plans to major in business administration.


It's an age-old question: what to do when you have a big lead late? Do you play aggressively, or just hope to take time off the clock?

Plainfield East first-year coach Missy Mitidiero and her young team faced that problem Friday at Romeoville. The Bengals might have been caught somewhere in between, watching their 41-23 lead evaporate under the weight of a 30-10 run by the hosts over the final 12 minutes.

"It comes with maturity, about learning the game, about basketball IQ, all that kind of stuff," Mitidiero said. "What we had a problem with was that we gave them a spurt where we didn't do the things that gave us the lead.

"We didn't rebound, we gave them second-chance opportunities and we turned over the ball," she added. "That ignited them. That gave them confidence. I just wish we could close out these games. We'll get there."


A player to watch over the next four years is Plainfield East freshman Faith Suggs. Suggs, an adept ballhander, shooter and all-around player, had 11 points and five rebounds in a losing effort Friday at Romeoville.

"She's a phenomenal athlete," Plainfield East coach Missy Mitidiero said. "She works on her game all the time. It's a blessing to have her to kind of help start Plainfeld East basketball and to help being that person that binds everybody together."

The 6-foot Suggs, who studied ballet before focusing exclusively on basketball, scored a team-high 20 points in a five-point loss to league-leading Oswego East earlier this year.

"She's a tireless athlete," Mitidiero said. "She does it on the floor and leads by example. That's all you can ask from a player, let alone a freshman. She works tirelessly on her game and tries to understand the knowledge of the game."

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West Aurora's Lauren Carlini was recently named one of the top 50 junior recruits in the nation.

Prepvolleyball.com recently released its list of the top 50 junior recruits in the country. The list includes several juniors from Illinois and others who are headed either to Big 10 schools or other major Midwest universities. The list was determined exclusively by a panel of college coaches.

Among the Top 50 Juniors (and the colleges to which they have committed) are these athletes from Illinois:

Lauren Carlini, 6-0 S/RS, West Aurora (Aurora, Illinois), Mizuno Sports Performance -- Wisconsin

Meghan McDowell, 6-1 S/MB, Hinsdale Central (Hinsdale, Illinois), Mizuno Sports Performance - Virginia

Cindy Zhou, 6-0 S, Libertyville (Illinois), Sky High -- Michigan

The athletes from outside Illinois who are committed to either Big 10 schools or other major Midwestern universities are:


Tori Blake, 6-2 MB, Midland (Michigan), MVA - Wisconsin

Abby Cole, 6-5 MB, Grand Haven (Michigan), MVA -- Michigan

Kira Larson, 6-3 MB, Fargo North (Fargo, North Dakota), Northwoods Black Ice - Nebraska


Ashley Evans, 6-1 S/MB, Lakota East (Liberty Township, Ohio), Cincy Classics -- Purdue

Kelly Hunter, 5-11 S/RS, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska), Nebraska Juniors -- Nebraska

Katie Schau, 5-9 S, Gull Lake (Richland, Michigan), DFFO - Minnesota


Kayla Morin, 5-10 OH, Portage Northern (Portage, Michigan), DFFO - Northwestern

Kylie Randall, 6-2 OH, Magnolia (Texas), Asics Willowbrook - Ohio State

Chloe Reinig, 6-4 OH, South Lyon (Michigan), Michigan Elite - Michigan State

Amber Rolfzen, 6-3 OH, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska), Nebraska Juniors - Nebraska

Kadie Rolfzen, 6-3 OH, Papillion-La Vista South (Papillion, Nebraska) , Nebraska Juniors - Nebraska

Michelle Strizak, 6-0 OH, Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio), Team Z - Illinois

Sarah Wilhite, 5-11 OH, Eden Prairie (Minnesota), Northern Lights - Wisconsin

Prepvolleyball.com also released a list of the Next 35 juniors who were just outside the top 50. Those athletes included:

Ciara Capezio, 6-2 OH, Burlington (Wisconsin), Club Fusion - Minnesota

Simmone Collins, 5-11 MB, Pine Creek (Colorado Springs, Colorado), Colorado Juniors - Notre Dame

Jazzmine McDonald, 6-2 MB, Cathedral HS (Indianapolis), Vision Volleyball Club - Indiana

Katie Roustio, 6-1 OH, O'Fallon (Illinois), HP St. Louis -- Illinois

Katie Stadick, 6-2 MB, Watertown (Wisconsin), Milwaukee Sting -- Illinois


The Illinois High School Volleyball Coaches Association will hold its Winter Coaches Clinic on Saturday, February 25. The clinic will be held at Harter Middle School, 1601 Esker Drive in Sugar Grove.

Speakers include: Bill Gleason of St Ambrose, 2011 NAIA Men's Finalist, Blocking-"Building a Wall;" and Pete Hanson of Ohio State, 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Champions, "Championship Drills From A Championship Coach."

Also, Pete Waite of the University of Wisconsin, "Get Into the Swing of Things;"
and Kevin Hambly, University of Illinois Women's Coach, 2011 NCAA Finalist and 2011 Volleyball Magazine Coach of the Year, "Charting for Champions."

Register at http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=ihsvca.


Former Cary-Grove star and current Indiana player Colleen Smith is fighting a rare autoimmune disease that sidelined her much of her freshman season and will keep her on the sidelines again next year, although the long-term prognosis is good.


Geneva senior Ashley Santos is likely out for the season with a torn ACL in her right knee. The Marquette recruit suffered the injury Saturday at the McDonald's Shootout in a game against Lincoln-Way East.

Santos was averaging 15 points per game for the Vikings, who had rebounded from consecutive losses at the Benet/Naperville North Christmas tournament. She had eight points Monday before going down in the first half.

Santos' younger sister, sophomore Sidney, has suffered ACL tears at the beginning of each of the last two seasons.

Both Trinity and Hillcrest were shorthanded Saturday when the teams meet in Country Club Hills. But Hillcrest's loss was a little bigger than Trinity's.

The Hawks were still without 6-foot-2 center Jahmia Phillips, who has been out with a concussion. Her absence left Hillcrest a little short inside against Trinity's duo of 6-foot Megan Podkowa and 6-1 Victoria Harris.

Hillcrest coach John Maniatis expects Phillips back this week.

"Phillips will be back Thursday," he said. "Obviously, protocol is in play with the concussion. (Saturday) she did the mile jog which went well, so Monday she'll go through the agility drills. Tuesday, she'll do another set of agility. Wednesday will be her first practice."

With Phillips sidelined, the dirty work inside Saturday was left to 5-11 Shannise Heady (eight rebounds) and 5-9 Brittney Wilson (five rebounds).

"We got hurt in the second half on the rebounding and stuff," Maniatis said. "We needed to have people to step up and at times we did. I thought Wilson did a great job filling in. We're going to grow from this and we're going to get better."


Trinity's Megan Podkowa began her career as a perimeter player. So her two three-pointers Saturday at Hillcrest were no surprise. However, the DePaul-bound senior continues to work on her inside game to become the all-around player the rugged Big East demands.

"I used to be only a three-point shooter," she said. "I've definitely been working more on my inside game and getting to the basket. Now I'm starting to work on both. I have to balance them out and work on them at the same time."

Podkowa and Alyssa Dengler played the entire 32 minutes Saturday, a testament to the conditioning that coach Ed Stritzel demands of his players.

"We all have been pushing ourselves in practice," Podkowa said. "It definitely had an impact not only on how I played, but how we played as a team and how we're starting to play together more and more each game. You could see it on the court, passing and pushing the ball up the floor."


Trinity coach Ed Stritzel and his staff drew up a play to start the second half Saturday at Hillcrest. The result was a perfectly executed play that set up Alyssa Dengler for a three-pointer from the right of the key that extended a 29-27 halftime lead to 32-27.

"I thought that really got our juices going as a coaching staff and as a team," Stritzel said. "It got a little hairy at the end. We told the girls that Hillcrest is always going to make it that way. It's going to be an ugly game. It's going to be fast."


For three years, Morgan Tuck and Ariel Massengale were the engines that drove Bolingbrook to three consecutive state titles.

Bolingbrook's bid for a fourth straight title revolves around Tuck, who poured in 41 points against Homewood-Flossmoor on Thursday. But guards Kennedy Cattenhead and Keiera Ray have been asked to fill some mighty big shoes with Massengale now toiling at Tennessee.

"I think everybody is still a work in progress," Tuck said. "They (Cattenhead and Ray) definitely been doing a great job. I think a lot of people thought since we lost Taylor (Tuck) and Ariel at guard that we were not going to have no guards anymore.

"They (Cattenhead and Ray) are proving a lot of people wrong," she added. "They know how to set me up and do the same things. I still miss Taylor and Ariel, that's always going to be there. But I'm happy with how our guards are playing."


Montini is looking for girls basketball teams to add to the field of its 2012 Christmas tournament. Montini is expanding its eight-team field and has already added two teams. Teams looking for a Christmas tournament next year should contact Jason Nichols at (630) 627-6930 or jnichols@montini.org.

Sky High 18 Black among power headliners

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Sky High 18 Black's Amelia Anderson is a big reason why the team is seeking a second consecutive national title.

How strong is the Great Lakes 18s Power League?

Entries include Sky High 18 Black, which will be seeking its second AAU Girls National Volleyball Championship this season after team members won a national title in Orlando, Fla. as 17-year-olds in 2011.

Last year. after beating Club Fusion 17 Black, 25-16, 25-20, in a challenge match, Sky High defeated OVA (Orlando Volleyball Academy) 17 Asics in the quarter final, 25-19, 16-25, 15-11, Northern Lights 171, 25-19, 25-22 in the semifinal, and Texas Advantage 17 Black, 25-15, 17-25, 15-10, in the championship. !

Back from that team are Sun-Times All-Area selections Amelia Anderson, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter from Crystal Lake Central committed to Indiana, and former Marian Central setter Abby Gilleland, who is headed to Ohio.

Other team members (and the schools they are headed to) are 6-1 opposite Sam Boesch (Wake Forest), 5-6 libero Sam Bohne (Jacksonville State), 5-6 libero Amy Dion (Maryland) and 6-1 outside hitter Melanie Jereb (Creighton).

Also, 6-1 outside Amanda Orchard (Pittsburgh), 6-foot middle blocker Ashley Rosch (Illinois State), 5-10 opposite Mary Striedl (Pittsburgh), and 6-2 middle blocker Daiva Wise (Toledo).

The 2012 Great Lakes Power League will feature 29 of the nation's top 250 seniors, according to PrepVolleyball.com.


Folks know a good thing when they see it.

Sports Performance's annual President's Day tournament February 18-20 will feature 272 teams playing at three sites including the Great Lakes Center, Schaumburg Convention Center and Lake County Expo Center.

The tournament sold out in about three weeks.


The Angels are building toward another run in 2012.

Two members of Joliet Catholic's highly successful 2011 sectional finalist girls volleyball team will be competing in the Great Lakes 18s Power League for Uno 17 Elite beginning this weekend - setter Mallory Mangun and outside hitter Morgan Reardon.


Montini Catholic High School in Lombard is looking for girls basketball teams to add to the field of its 2012 Christmas tournament. Montini is expanding its eight-team field and has already added two teams. Teams looking for a Christmas tournament next year should contact Jason Nichols at (630) 627-6930 or jnichols@montini.org.

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