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Prep girls basketball insider: Knights focus on building

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Rob Winner file photo - rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Kaneland's Marina Schaefer (left) controls a rebound under the DeKalb basket during the third quarter Dec. 11 in DeKalb. DeKalb defeated Kaneland, 31-17.

On many nights, Kaneland gives public address announcer Andy Drendel a workout worthy of the well-conditioned team he’s describing.

The Knights again tout a deep rotation, but are hoping to see more consistent production from core players after a see-saw start.

“We haven’t really played together a lot,” senior center Kelly Wallner said. “We’re just getting used to people. And now we’re building, and I think we’re going to come back in conference. I truly believe that. We are a solid team. And once we work together and get our abilities, we have a great chance.”

Kaneland, which is part of separate holiday tournaments at conference crossover schools Ottawa and Dixon, is 1-1 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East.

While other teammates are on board with Wallner’s assessment, there’s a special premium on getting on board in time for the Class 3A postseason.

“We’re building right now, and I think we’ll be a lot better when February comes along, and that’s really all that matters in regionals,” junior forward Ally Van Bogaert said.

Slotted to play in the Plano Regional, Kaneland will visit the Reapers in nonconference play in mid-January and also has potential postseason foes Rochelle and Sycamore on its NI Big 12 East schedule. The Knights have split with those foes so far, losing to Sycamore on the road and topping Rochelle in Maple Park.

Recharged North making strides

St. Charles North needs three more wins to match last season’s total of nine. The North Stars are confident they’ll surpass that mark in part because of coach Sean Masoncup’s energy.

Masoncup’s vigor is not much different than that of his perpetually-enthused predecessor, Colleen Backer.

“It’s really good,” sophomore forward Morgan Rosencrants said. “We love him, and everything seems to be working out.”

While North certainly be tested during the upcoming Dundee-Crown tournament, players are seeing subtle signs of improvement. The North Stars are communicating better, for one, which has allowed them to play more in transition, which satisfies Masoncup’s style.

“I’m really proud of our team so far,” junior forward Nichole Davidson said, “and I think we’re going to be a really successful team this year.”

Warriors improving, too

Another team primed to leapfrog its 2012-13 victory total, Wheaton Academy, could reach that distinction with a strong run in the upcoming Lisle tournament.

The Warriors enter tournament play with seven wins and are coming off Saturday’s 50-31 loss at Suburban Christian Conference rival Aurora Christian.

Coach Beth Mitchell’s club won 10 games last season.

– Kevin Druley, kdruley@shawmedia.com

In the groove

Kyra Washington, St. Charles East, Jr., G/F

What she did: Washington tallied the last six points during Thursday’s 62-59 Upstate Eight Conference crossover win at Metea Valley. She notched the decisive three-point play with 7.1 seconds remaining.

Kirsten Madsen, Aurora Christian, So., G

What she did: Madsen scored a game-high 15 points in Saturday’s home victory against Wheaton Academy, helping the Eagles improve to 4-0 in the Suburban Christian Conference Gold.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

Geneva freshman Grace Loberg comes-a-courtin’. A top outside hitter for a Vikings volleyball team that captured the program’s first sectional title in the fall, Loberg scored 15 points in her varsity basketball debut Friday, helping Geneva defeat Streamwood, 54-41. She added 22 points in a rout of Larkin a day later and also was the team’s leading scorer in Monday’s Montini tournament opener. Vikings coach Sarah Meadows, who hinted at Loberg’s hoops upside during open gyms, promoted her as point guard Michaela Loebel recoups from a knee injury. “She’s showing what she can do,” Meadows said.

WHAT WE’LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

Whether Batavia and Geneva face off in the Montini Christmas tournament. The longtime rivals opened the event with the chance to meet in the finals, but still could square off elsewhere pending results.

COACH SLY SAYS

The injury bug, namely the one that buzzes around the area of the knee, has pestered Geneva more than it would like in recent seasons. News of Michaela Loebel’s recent troubles on the heels of last season’s ACL tear didn’t change the trend.

Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious and the Vikings can play at full strength. With a new up-and-coming commodity in Grace Loberg, this should be an upbeat time for the team, holiday season or not.

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