Grow the Game highlights tournament season

Unlike 12 months ago, the vans carrying girls basketball teams will be back on the roads again this winter.

Area teams are back in action for holiday tournaments after missing out last December due to COVID-19.

Going on the road is nothing new for Hersey's girls basketball team which spent a stretch of six straight games away from its Carter Gymnasium earlier this season.

Coach Mary Fendley's top-ranked Class 4A team (10-1) will travel to Naperville for the Grow the Game tourney, an event that features all female head coaches to be played at North Central College. Going into her Huskies' game against Hoffman Estates on Wednesday, Fendley stood just 8 wins from 500 for her career.

The Huskies were in the showcase event in 2019.

However, that time they played just one game (vs. Stevenson at Glenbard West) as part of the event's 'shootout'.

This time, they are in the eight-team bracket tourney which kicks off with quarterfinals on Dec. 20, followed by the semifinals Dec. 21 and the championship Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. The third-place game is set for 2:30 p.m.

The Huskies open with Walter Payton at 12:30 p.m. on the 20th. The rest of the field includes New Trier, Mother McAuley, Norcross, GA., Yorkville, St. Ignatius and Thornton Fractional North.

Among the other tourneys involving area teams are Dundee-Crown (Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Maine South, Maine West), Morton College (Rolling Meadows and Fremd), Libertyville (Wheeling and Conant), Wheaton North's Bill Neibch Falcon Classic (Palatine, Schaumburg and Elk Grove).

Barrington is the No. 2 seed behind Stevenson at D-C, where the Fillies (7-4) placed sixth in 2019.

"Oh my goodness, this is so much fun," said Fillies senior Laura Mahlum about getting to play in a holiday tourney again. "The D-C tourney is really a good tournament for us. We play a lot of very good competition. And I think our team really bonds in that tourney with the bus rides four straight days and everything."

During the past volleyball season, Mahlum committed to Illinois Wesleyan to play basketball. Her volleyball team took third place in the Class 4A state tourney. Basketball teammate Gwen Adler was also the setter on that Fillies' state volleyball team.

"I actually roomed with Gwen when we were downstate for volleyball and we talked about playing basketball and doing it again (getting down state in basketball)," Mahlum said. "Our team has a lot of potential. I'm excited to see where it goes."

The event hosed by a Northwest suburbs school is the 38th annual Blenner Classic at St. Viator, which features the host Lions, Prospect, Glenbrook North and Leyden. The tourney runs from Dec. 27 through Dec 30 with the final day featuring the title game at 7 p.m., third place at 5:30 p.m. and fifth place at 4 p.m.

Catching on:

Second-season Prospect coach Matt Weber, the receivers coach for Prospect's Class 7A state football semifinalist, has his team off to a solid start. The Knights have won eight of their 10 games and are 2-0 in the Mid-Suburban East.

Weber has been getting contributions from many different players.

In a scrappy 54-47 win at St. Viator (Lions were 6-2 at the time) last week, senior guard Katie Neal came off the bench to provide some big moments.

"When the bench came in (vs. Viator), those players maintained the same level as the starting five and that's the sign of a good team," Weber said. "We're excited and the St. Viator game was a lot of fun," Weber said. "But we've got bigger goals than just winning nonconference games."

In a big come-from-behind win over Glenbrook South on Tuesday, senior Summer Srodulski had a season-high 18 points, including 2 3-pointers.

The Pape line:

Cornell recruit Emily Pape of Maine South took her stellar game to Lincoln Way West last weekend and produced one of the all-time finest performances in program history.

The southpaw senior's stats line showed a game-high 34 points with 17 rebounds in a 69-65 win for the 6-5 Hawks.

That effort placed Pape third on the all-time list for most points scored in a single game by a Maine South girls basketball player.

All-around gem:

South Dakota recruit Joy Bergstrom didn't miss a statistical category when St. Viator pushed its record to 7-3 and 2-0 in the East Suburban Catholic with a 56-44 win over Joliet Catholic Academy last week. The four-year senior starter collected 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocked shots and 2 assists.

All-around gem II:

Hersey junior Megan Mrowicki missed a triple-double against New Trier by 1 point and 1 assist.

The Huskies' soccer standout, who is committed to Notre Dame, kicked into high gear with her passing skills, handing out 9 assists in the 61-50 nonconference win in Arlington Heights last Saturday. She also had 10 rebounds (8 on the offensive end) and 9 points.

  Hersey girls basketball coach Mary Fendley headed into Wednesday's game against Hoffman Estates with 492 career wins. Joe Lewnard/
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