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Prep girls basketball insider: Knights hit stride, then snag

Kaneland’s Brooke Harner pushes past DeKalb’s Madelyne Johnson on Tuesday at Kaneland.
Kaneland’s Brooke Harner pushes past DeKalb’s Madelyne Johnson on Tuesday at Kaneland.

Knights hit stride, then snag

A pair of losses to DeKalb in the past week may have derailed Kaneland’s bid for a Northern Illinois Big 12 East title, but the Knights are by no means deflated.

The Knighs have gone 1-4 since a 7-0 start entering this afternoon’s Ottawa Tournament game against Morris, but are counting on one another for a rebound.

“I think we’ve played solid teams,” Knights coach Ernie Colombe said. “Last year were were 14-9 or 14-10 at one point, and we ended up 20-10 [with a berth in a 3A sectional final]. And I don’t want to bring up last year, but that’s just the facts. ... There’s still a lot of season to go, and I’m sure that [the Barbs] are going to beat up on a lot of teams. We won’t be the only ones. What we tried to do ... is try to learn from this, and I think the girls did.”

One glaring lesson: the Knights need to accommodate for a lack of size. Ashley Prost, a 5-foot-9 senior forward, is the team’s tallest starter. Reserve centers Ally VanBogaert, a sophomore, and Kelly Wallner, a junior, both stand 5-11.

In past seasons, the Knights boasted recent graduate Kelly Evers, a 6-4 center who was especially active in the rebounding mix. Kaneland wouldn’t have minded someone so stout on its side against a DeKalb front line that included 6-1 Madelyne Johnson and 6-2 Courtney Bemis.

“Right now we don’t have that post presence, that one player who’s a 6-footer who can go down there and post up and teams have got to guard,” Colombe said. “They’re helping off that spot right now and that’s kind of clogging everything up. So it’s a work in progress.”

Geneva still a measuring stick

Geneva toted six losses into Thursday’s Naperville North/Benet Holiday Tournament bracket play opener against Wheaton Warrenville South.

In past winters, that figure was close to the Vikings’ season loss total, but a string of close games and tough competition have contributed to early adversity.

Occasional struggles still haven’t been enough to remove much of that Geneva mystique, though. DeKalb, which needed overtime to edge the Vikings in pool play at Naperville North last week, credited its former Western Sun Conference foes for obliging with a nail-biter.

“We play these tournaments to get better. We get outside of our conference to get better. And playing teams like Geneva, that’s what’s going to help us,” Johnson said.

Even with this season’s 9-6 start, the Vikings are 121-22 since the beginning of 2008-09. The program has won at least 21 games in every season since 2005-06.

– Kevin Druley,

Liza Fruendt
Batavia, Jr., G

What she did: Fruendt struck for a career-high 32 points Saturday, helping Batavia come back to defeat host Oswego, 69-68, in overtime in the Oswego Tournament third-place game. The Bulldogs trailed by as many as seven points in OT.

Morgan Rosencrants
St. Charles North, Fr., G/F

What she did: Rosencrants tallied a game-high 18 points in Saturday's 59-36 victory against Elgin, the North Stars' fourth win in a row before a Tuesday loss to Wheaton Warrenville South.

DeKalb remains a thorn in Kaneland's side. On Tuesday, the Knights lost to their Northern Illinois Big 12 East rival for the second time in a week, managing a total of just 39 points in the two games. The Barbs also swept the Knights in the 2011-12 season series, and are eyeing their third consecutive conference title.

How teams fare at holiday tournaments. Pre- and post-Christmas itineraries include Kaneland at Ottawa, St. Charles East at Wheaton North, Batavia at Montini and St. Charles North at Dundee-Crown. Geneva is set to wrap up play at the Naperville North/Benet tournament today and will not play again until Jan. 5.

With respect to the Mayans, Sly's gotta think this won't be his last dispatch from Chronicle Country.

On the off chance it is, though, this wasn't a bad stretch of girls hoops before the dreaded Dec. 21.

We've seen overtime, upsets, overtime upsets, scoring outbursts and great defense. Here's to all that and more during the holiday tourneys and after the break.

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