Girls basketball insider: Bulldogs bide time entering big stretch

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Sean King)
St. Charles East coach Lori Drumtra corralled her team for many huddles during road and neutral court games this season before finally guiding the Saints at home against Evanston Saturday night.

Batavia coach Kevin Jensen and his staff planned to scout Tuesday's St. Charles East at Streamwood game before hazardous wind chills closed schools and canceled practices and games.

Other than erasing the possibility to see the Bulldogs' next two Upstate Eight Conference River Division opponents, this week's severe weather didn't otherwise affect the Bulldogs much. Their next game wasn't until Saturday night against visiting Streamwood, anyway.

The cold, workout-less nights – the team practiced Monday and Tuesday morning – lent themselves to reflection about an encouraging run through holiday tournaments at Oswego and Montini. The Bulldogs were a combined 4-4 during the stretch.

"I would have liked to have won at least one more at Montini," Jensen said, "but thought we played well every game and gave ourselves a chance to win every game."

Batavia leads the conference race, and next week looms large in its bid to unseat defending champion Geneva and the rest of the pack. After visiting St. Charles East on Tuesday, the Bulldogs will play at Geneva on Jan. 17.

The Bulldogs won the teams' first meeting, 59-51 – their first win in the series in nearly six seasons – but that was before Vikings freshman call-up Grace Loberg emerged as a dangerous scoring threat in the post.

"She looks real nice with them. She has a nice instinct of where to move without the ball, she has good hands, keeps the ball up high and finishes nice," Jensen said. "She'll be big for them the rest of the year."

Surging Saints welcomed home
St. Charles East fans might have had an overabundance of stored-up enthusiasm Saturday, as the Saints' 49-44 victory against Evanston marked the team's long-awaited, first home game of the season.

East made things easier by allowing backers to spread the wealth between senior guard Amanda Hilton (19 points) and junior guard/forward Kyra Washington (13). Guard Katie Claussner chipped in seven points.

"I think everyone has been playing awesome, everyone has been stepping up and making key plays to keep us ahead in these games," Hilton said. "Everyone is gaining confidence, which is great to see."

With a reschedule date for Tuesday's visit to Streamwood pending, East is slated to play its next six games at home.

Run, Rockets, run
You can't really call Burlington Central's "22" conditioning drill a catch-22, because there is a logical solution to escaping the situation.

Simply run from one end of the floor and back, down again and return to the free-throw line near the endline from where you started. If every Rocket does so before coach Mark Smith's stopwatch reads 22 seconds, there is no gritty rinse and repeat.

"Definitely at the beginning of the season, 22s [are] a very popular thing to do, but we stay conditioned throughout, which is good," Central junior forward Alison Colby said.

BC closed a recent practice with a full scrimmage – a norm this time of year – but Smith elected to resuscitate the "22" challenge for the losing side as a sort of cherry on top.

No sweat for the Rockets, who have stressed defense and scoring in transition since last season's run to the 3A Hoffman Estates Supersectional – its first season under Smith, a longtime high school, college and AAU coach in the region.

"He's turned us against each other to make each other better, you know," sophomore forward Sam Pryor said. "It's a very competitive situation."

IN THE GROOVE

Amanda Hilton
St. Charles East, Sr., G
What she did:
Scored 19 points to boost the Saints past Evanston, 49-44, in their home opener Saturday night.

Rosary's full-court press
What happened:
Guard Rachel Choice (16 points) and forward Adrienne Winkel (10) both scored in double figures during Saturday's nonconference victory at Plano in part thanks to the success of the Royals' pressure.

WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK

St. Charles North is amped up. Looking to build their reputation as an Upstate Eight Conference River Division threat, the North Stars visit defending league champion Geneva Friday in the opener of a girls-boys doubleheader. North finished 2-2 at Dundee Crown's recent Charger Classic, including a close loss to budding 3A power Burlington Central. "I think we're just going to keep building on it," North sophomore forward Morgan Rosencrants said. "Splliting at D-C was definitely a positive for us, and hopefully it will show people that they can't underestimate us as much as they used to."

WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD

More about the Kaneland-BC power shift. The Knights visit the regional rival Rockets on Saturday night with an eye on keeping their recent hold on the series. Kaneland handed Central one of its four regular-season losses in 2012-13 en route to a 16-11 season.

COACH SLY SAYS

Kaneland and Burlington Central could potentially meet in a 3A sectional next month, but until that happens, Saturday's nonconference game at BC will have to suffice.

The Knights have been looking for the younger additions to their rotation to jell with the veterans. The Rockets keep clicking with a core of battle-tested underclassmen.

Here's to a tight one that lives up to its "Pack the Place" billing. This would be a big spot for the Knights to come untracked.

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