Scouting Fox area girls basketball holiday tournaments

The St. Charles East girls basketball team is cruising into the holidays.

And the Saints' high-powered train is barreling right into the competitive Montini Christmas tournament starting Monday, Dec. 27.

Coach Michael Murphy's squad is 10-1 after a big DuKane Conference win against neighbor St. Charles North Friday. The Saints still have a DuKane tussle with Batavia on the books prior to matriculating over to Lombard where they are the No. 4 seed in the field behind Naperville North (No. 1), Loyola (No. 2), and Nazareth (No. 3). Murphy pegs the DuPage Valley-based Huskies as the favorite to win the tournament.

"We are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities those quality opponents provide along with the high level of competition we will see at Montini," Murphy said. "This is an important stretch for our program. I am confident we will rise to the occasion."

Torrie Kortan leads the way for East at 13 points per game.

Huntley, winners of seven of its first eight games this season, also is in the Montini field, opening against Chicago Whitney Young in the 8-9 seeded matchup.

"We have had the opportunity to play at Montini since 2012 and every year we always play against four quality opponents," Red Raiders coach Steve Raethz said. "You know going in that your team is going to be tested against some great competition, and invariably, this tournament always provides us a barometer of where we are as a team - what we need to work on to get better for the second half of the season. This year's field is loaded with a lot of talented teams. Naperville North, Loyola, Nazareth and St. Charles East are the top four seeds and there are a host of other teams in the mix to compete for a tournament title."

Jessie Ozzauto leads Huntley in scoring at 13.3 points per game.

Burlington Central also is part of the Montini field for the first time and opens against York.

At Dundee-Crown:

A host of local teams will hunker down in Carpentersville for the 38th annual Komaromy Classic at Dundee-Crown.

South Elgin was 10-1 after losing its first game of the year to Schaumburg on Saturday. The Storm has been powered by Ella Winterhalder (14.5 ppg) and Caroline Croft (14.1 ppg).

"It's probably the first- or second-best Christmas tournament," Storm coach Dan Mandernack said. "This tourney will be challenging - four straight days playing outstanding teams, programs and players. I am looking forward to seeing my players play against high-level competition. I want to see them handle different situations within each game, playing tall teams, pressing teams, teams with elite players and with getting very little or next-to-zero scouting reports or pregame scout practice with it being four straight days. We are all very confident we will compete and play our game of attacking - aggressive offense and pressure defense that has led us to a great start."

Mandernack pegs Stevenson and Barrington as top contenders at D-C.

Also at the Charger Classic, the host Chargers will square off against Barrington in the marquee 8:30 p.m. contest on Dec. 27.

D-C coach Sarah Teipel has been impressed with the play of senior Kate Raby of late. "Kate is one of our hardest workers and best leaders," she said.

Also drawing praise has been junior Kendall Brents, the team's leading scorer. "Kendall has shown great improvements in her overall game," Teipel said.

Also contributing for the Chargers have been junior Marrasia Harthrone, sophomore Monica Sierzputowski and sophomore Thea Mercado. Those five players all were averaging between 5-9 points per game to start the month.

Junior Alyssa Hughes (18 ppg) and sophomore Reagan Sipla (14 ppg) lead the way for St. Charles North, which drew Moline in its Komaromy opener.

"We are still rounding into form and finding our identity on both sides of the ball," North coach Mike Tomczak said. "As we move into Christmas, we want to continue to figure out who we are. We have shown flashes of being special and we look to continue to search for that consistency, not just from our top scorers, but all the way down our roster. As a team, we are in a good place and we look forward to using the break and he holiday tournament to gear up for the second half of the season."

Hampshire faces Maine South at D-C. The Whips are paced by sophomores Avery Cartee and Ashley Herzing, both averaging around the 10-point-per-game mark.

"We need to start playing with better focus on both ends of the floor," Hampshire coach Eric Samuelson explained. "If this group figures out how good they can be together, their future can be really bright. They are young, and while we're really proud of how hard they work and how well they get along both on and off the court, we need to stop settling for moral victories. They are hungry and coachable. They are going to figure it out."

At Morton College:

Batavia coach Kevin Jensen was straight and to the point about the Morton College tournament in Cicero that opens on Dec. 27. The Bulldogs drew Evanston in the first round.

"It's absolutely loaded," he said.

Jensen noted the Bulldogs were 8-2 through their first 10 games and earned the No. 9 seed in the tournament.

"There will be multiple teams from this tournament that wind up playing in (Normal)," he said.

Jensen pointed out Kenwood, Bolingbrook, Benet, Deerfield, Fremd and Marist are all high-caliber teams.

"Again, I think we are a very strong team and we are only the ninth-seeded team," he said.

Of note for Batavia, Tessa Towers had 29 points and 8 rebounds against highly touted Naperville North, while Brooke Carlson added 14 points and 3 steals. Carlson had 17 points and 6 steals and Kylee Gehrt had 16 points in a 16-point win over Glenbard North, while Carlson had 24 points and 8 rebounds in a 1-point win over Burlington Central. Ava Ahrens had three 3-pointers. Batavia played both the Glenbard and Burlington games minus two starters.

Geneva coach Sarah Meadows also is impressed by the 16-team Morton field. "It's a very strong tournament, really good competition for us," she said. "We want to continue to get better and grow and mature as basketball players. We are playing well together right now and I want that to continue."

Geneva drew Fremd in the first round at Morton.


Aurora Central Catholic is headed to the Dixon tournament for the first time. Freshman guard Sofia Corral leads the Chargers in scoring at 12.9 ppg, while senior guard-forward Alexis Schuster averages 10.6 ppg ... West Aurora is at the Wheaton North Bill Neibch Falcon Classic where coach Teresa Waldinger sees Willowbrook and Downers Grove North as the favorites going in. "However, our record does not indicate the kind of team we are," she said. The Blackhawks, Waldinger noted, have lost almost all their games by 5 points or less. Junior Aspen Weeks leads West Aurora at 11 ppg ... Jacobs also is in the Falcon Classic. Mackenzie Leahy is averaging around 18 points a game for the Golden Eagles, who were 7-5 through their first 12 games ... St. Edward heads to the Lisle Cage Classic with seniors Brooke Biggins (18.6 ppg) and Alexia Alfaro (7.3 ppg) leading the way ... Rosary, 7-2 through its first nine games, also is in the Lisle field and is led by senior Emily Hurst and her 15-point-per game output. "I'm looking for us not taking our foot off the pedal," Royals coach Emily Duckhorn said. "We have put together some impressive wins of late. We need to keep the momentum going."

Crystal Lake South opened play in the McHenry Northern Illinois Holiday Classic where it lost to Woodstock North. Kree Nunnally is the Gators' leading scorer at 15.6 ppg ... Tony Moretti's Cary-Grove squad is at Libertyville. "I'm looking for us to keep getting better. We are a very young team, said Moretti, whose squad is led in scoring by Emily Lukowski at 14.2 ppg ... Streamwood also is part of the Libertyville field ... Kaneland heads to Oswego East for the first time. "We will be playing some bigger schools so I am looking for us to use those contests as a barometer for what we need to continue to work on when we get back into conference play in January," Knights coach Kelsey Flanagan said. Senior guard McKenzie Schueler leads Kaneland in scoring.

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