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Bounce-back year for girls basketball in Tri-Cities

The girls basketball season around the area isn't over quite yet, but it's not too early for Coach Sly to tip his cap to a strong season of buckets for the local ladies.

The year before this was maybe a low-water mark for girls basketball around the Tri-Cities. Outside of Geneva, there wasn't a whole lot of positive things shaking in 2011-12, outside of Kaneland's nice postseason run.

But this year was a much different story. Batavia, St. Charles East and Geneva all turned in strong seasons that they can be awfully proud of. The Vikings, of course, are still trucking into sectionals next week, but they had to dig deep in the final weeks to pull out yet another conference title.

Batavia and East both had their moments this year. Lots of them, in fact. Batavia's Liza Fruendt was a very deserving UEC River POY - she had an awesome season, and was the main reason the Bulldogs were a winning team - but you can also make a pretty strong case for East's Amanda Hilton, who had some incredible shooting nights for the Saints.

The best news is, Batavia, Geneva and East all look like they could be even better next season. Losing Sami Pawlak will be a big loss for Geneva, but they return almost all their other weapons. Fruendt comes back for Batavia and the Bulldogs showed they had a really strong freshman class this year. And East returns emerging talents like Katie Claussner, Kyra Washington and Hannah Nowling to go with one more year of Hilton.

If St. Charles North's young talent continues to jell, look for the UEC River to be stronger than it's ever been in girls hoops next year, especially in the Tri-Cities.

Speaking of young talent, kudos to Burlington Central for joining Geneva as the last remaining area girls team. The Rockets have been quite a story in their own right this winter.

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