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updated: 6/9/2011 7:30 PM

The best of the best this year might be yet to come

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The crowning moment could still be out there.

This weekend DuPage County gets a double dose at a chance at its first girls softball state champion since Downers Grove South in 1993. Glenbard South may very well be the favorite in Class 3A, and Benet is in East Peoria for the first time in Class 4A.

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But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

First let's unwrap the top moments (up to this point) of the 2010-11 school year in DuPage County girls athletics:

Oct. 23, 2010: MT. PROSPECT -- Lake Forest denies Hinsdale Central what would have been a state record fifth consecutive girls tennis team state championship.

There was no stopping the Red Devils doubles team, though.

The duo of Marika Cusick and Caroline Lorenzini defeated Haleigh McPeek and Elizabeth Zordani of Lake Forest 6-2, 6-3 to take home the state doubles title. It is Hinsdale Central's first state doubles champ since the team of Courtney Dolehide and Nida Hamilton won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007.

Nov. 6, 2010: SCHAUMBURG -- It's a family affair. Next stop, Redbird Arena. York volleyball beats New Trier 25-19, 25-22 at the Class 4A Schaumburg supersectional to advance to state for the first time in program history. Coach Patty Iverson, who won a state title with the Glenbrook South boys in 2003, gets a special treat this time. She's going to state with daughter Emily Iverson, one half of an outstanding setter duo with Katie Gallagher. York advanced to supersectionals by ending a three-year sectional final spell against St. Charles East.

Nov. 20, 2010: EVANSTON -- No diver wishes to make a big splash in the water. Lauren Mikulecky couldn't help herself. The Neuqua Valley senior ran away with the state diving competition, her score of 418 easily outdistancing runner-up Whitney Johnson of Hononegah. Mikulecky's is the first state diving title in school history for Neuqua. Mikulecky, who placed 11th as a junior and 12th as a sophomore, nailed her inward one-and-a-half tuck on to seal the title.

Jan. 17, 2011: VILLA PARK -- Forget the state championship games. The most-anticipated (and attended) girls basketball game this year came at the 21st McDonald's Shootout at Willowbrook High School. In a rematch pitting the defending Class 3A and Class 4A state champs, future Ms. Illinois Ariel Massengale showed why with 20 points as Bolingbrook beat Montini 79-63 in front of a capacity crowd of 3,300. Montini's 36-game winning streak was snapped, but the Broncos never lost again.

March 5, 2011: NORMAL -- Montini left no doubt this time. In a rematch of the Class 2010 Class 3A title game, the top-ranked Broncos blew out Hillcrest 67-45 to win their second straight state championship. Montini became the second DuPage County team to repeat in girls basketball, joining Candace Parker's Naperville Central champs from 2003-04. Montini never trailed after an 11-0 start, a day after running out to a 20-0 lead in a semifinal win over Springfield. Montini hit 11 3-pointers, giving it 264 for the season -- third-most all-time in state history. The Broncos, led by Notre Dame-bound point guard Whitney Holloway and North Carolina recruit Whitney Adams, beat their seven playoff opponents by an average margin of 28.9 points.

May 14, 2011: NAPERVILLE -- Andy Nussbaum turned the first half of an unheard of double play in the coaching ranks. Nussbaum's Naperville Central Redhawks beat Stagg in the second game of a doubleheader, giving the 28th-year head coach his 500th career win. He is the fifth coach in DuPage County to do so. Step two should come in November -- Nussbaum's next win in girls basketball will be his 500th coaching that sport.

May 27, 2011: AURORA -- Naperville North needed to play a perfect game to beat the No. 1-ranked team in the country. It did.

The Huskies stunned unbeaten Neuqua Valley 1-0 in the Class 3A sectional final at Waubonsie Valley, a 32nd-minute goal by Hunter Drendel the difference. Huskies goalkeeper Abby Green turned away 9 shots on goal in the second half, 10 for the game. Naperville North advanced all the way to the 3A title game, where the Huskies fell to Granite City 1-0.

May 31, 2011: LISLE -- Ally Witt scored 2 goals with less than 14 minutes to play, and Wheaton Academy beat St. Francis 2-0 to advance to the Class 2A state soccer semifinals for the third straight year. It was also the third year in a row Wheaton Academy ousted St. Francis in the playoffs.

May 31, 2011: SENECA -- The third time is the charm. Lisle fell just short of state in 2009 and 2010, losing in the supersectional, but this time the Lions roll past Momence 6-0 for their third state softball tournament berth and first since 2007. Bekka Houda takes a no-hitter into the sixth inning and throws her 11th shutout. Lisle's fourth-place trophy at state is its first in softball.

June 6, 2011: DARIEN -- The bucket of ice water poured over Benet coach Jerry Schilf by his players might be all that could cool off his Redwings. Benet, 12-8 on May 1, rips off 18 wins in 20 games, culminating with a 4-1 win over nationally ranked Richards in a 4A supersectional to clinch the Redwings' first trip to state softball in program history. Freshman Marissa Panko provides the big hit, a go-ahead RBI double in a 3-run sixth that scores older sister Mikayla Panko, and Allyson Staats turns in another gritty performance for her program record 28th win.

On the same day in Elgin, Jess Wilkes tosses a 3-hitter as Glenbard South beats Elmwood for the third time this season, this time 3-0 to clinch the Raiders' third state semifinal berth in four years.

June 11, 2011: Moment No. 11? It could be waiting this weekend in East Peoria.

Congratulations to all the athletes and coaches, state champions or not, on a fantastic season.

jwelge@dailyherald.com

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