Girls basketball fans in the city of Elgin will get to see five of the city's six high school teams play each other over the next two weeks, beginning tonight when the Elgin City Classic gets under way at Larkin.
The round-robin tournament is the brainchild of Elgin coach Dr. Nick Bumbales, who thought it would be a good idea to have the city's teams play each other and each school be able to host a night of games.
Larkin, Westminster Christian, Elgin Academy and Harvest Christian jumped on board but St. Edward was unable to make the 4-game event work in its schedule.
So, tonight at Larkin, Westminster will take on Harvest at 5:45 with Elgin and Larkin meeting at 7:15. Elgin Academy plays host Wednesday night, Harvest on Friday, then Westminster Jan. 15 and the final night will be at Elgin's Chesbrough Field House on Jan. 18. Each team will play each school once and each team has a bye.
And while one can certainly argue the validity of Class 4A schools Elgin and Larkin playing three games against Class 1A competition, it's also no secret that Elgin and Larkin are struggling again and Bumbales' idea of giving his team as well as the Royals some games in which they can compete better isn't all bad. No one around Elgin or Larkin can realistically expect to bring home postseason hardware, and with the exception of their game against each other, the Maroons and Royals are taking their lumps against their Upstate Eight Conference competition. Elgin and Larkin also combined to go 1-9 in their respective Christmas tournaments, Elgin's win over Jacobs on the final day at Wheaton North the only victory.
The city classic also gives Westminster, Harvest and Elgin Academy a chance to play against teams from a more diverse athletic background, something that can't hurt any of those schools when they get into the postseason.
The suggestion here is that we embrace the city classic for what it is -- an opportunity for the girls basketball teams from the five high schools participating to have some good healthy competition and for fans to see games at each of the high schools. Take a look around each school while you're there, they all have a distinct flavor to their atmosphere.
And here's a quick skinny on each of the teams participating in the Elgin City Classic.
Elgin (4-13): The Maroons would like some payback tonight when they play Larkin. The Royals' only win of the season came on Dec. 4 when they beat Elgin 53-47 in a game also played at Larkin. Senior guard Kristin Tayag and junior guard Maggie Powers have been mainstays for Elgin this season. The Maroons will hope to build on their 50-47 win over Jacobs at Wheaton North.
Larkin (1-14): Larkin has been led by sophomore Quixmia Washington this season. The Royals have struggled to score, hitting the 30-mark or more only twice in 15 games.
Westminster Christian (10-4): The only team in the classic with a winning record, the Warriors are building on last season when they advanced to a Class 1A sectional final. They currently lead the Northeast Athletic Conference with a 5-0 record and their only losses have come to Somonauk early, Schaumburg and Hampshire. Freshman Maddie Versluys and juniors Claire Speweik and McKaila Hays have been Westminster's leaders this season.
Harvest Christian (2-12): The Lions have struggled and were dealt a blow early in the season when 6-foot-2 Sydney Doby decided not to play so she could heal injuries and concentrate on volleyball. But, one of Harvest's two wins this season was against Elgin Academy, a team the Lions will face in the classic. Harvest also lost to the Hilltoppers once this season. The Lions have been led by the consistent scoring of sophomore guard Kylee Knox and the rebounding of 6-foot freshman Rachel Oostdyk.
Elgin Academy (7-7): The Hilltoppers have proved to be a formidable opponent this season and could fare well in the classic. Elgin Academy has been led by freshman Rachel Cain and sophomore Alysson Wittmeyer.
And now, on to some other girls basketball news.
M.A.S.H. report: Pending doctor's release, South Elgin junior Savanah Uveges could return to the Storm lineup Thursday at Burlington Central. Uveges has missed the Storm's first 19 games while recovering from an ACL injury suffered this past summer. South Elgin has managed to go 10-9 without their all-area point guard and her return will certainly elevate the Storm's competitiveness. ... St. Edward junior Katie Swanson remains out with a back injury. Swanson is undergoing therapy and she said Saturday there's a chance she could be back for the postseason. ... Cary-Grove is also anticipating the return of sophomore guard Katie Barker soon.
Around the area this week: Christmas break really is over. Other than the Elgin City Classic games this week, an intriguing nonconference matchup is on tap Thursday when South Elgin visits Burlington Central (14-3). The Rockets are coming off a tough overtime loss to Kaneland on Saturday, a setback that probably will cost BC the No. 1 seed in its own Class 3A regional. On Friday, Streamwood will try to keep pace in the Upstate Eight River when it plays at improved St. Charles North and on Saturday Huntley will put its first-place standing in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division on the line when the Red Raiders host three-time defending Valley champ Cary-Grove, which is currently 3-1 in the league.
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