Dundee-Crown, Morton, St. Viator tourneys are highlights for NW suburbs teams

Girls basketball teams from the Northwest suburbs will be looking for championships at three holiday tournaments that begin on Monday of next week.

Here is a look at those trio of holiday events, which come on the heels of the Grow The Game showcase (Hersey) which was played at North Central College earlier this week and the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic (Schaumburg and Palatine) which commenced on Tuesday of this week and wraps up next Tuesday.

Komaromy Charger Classic:

It's the 38th annual Komaromy Charger Classic at Dundee-Crown and Maine South, which was second to Maine West in the 2019 edition is back for another shot.

The Hawks won the prestigious 16-team event in 2012 and were fifth in 2018.

In 2019, which was coach Jeff Hamann's second season, Maine South reached the title game by defeating Naperville Central, Fenwick and Lake Park.

Emily Pape is having a standout senior season for the Hawks, averaging 18.5 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals. She recently put up 34 points (third highest in program history for one game) and 17 rebounds in a win at Lincoln-Way West.

Ava Blagojevich and Meegan Fahy are both averaging 8 points and 3.5 rebounds. "They are two sophomores who are getting better every day," Hamann said.

Senior point guard Caroline Barker leads the Hawks in assists and is second in rebounding.

"She is playing extremely well," Hamann said. "She is our vocal floor leader and plays extremely hard defensively."

Stevenson and Barrington are the top two seeds at Dundee-Crown.

"However, I do believe that there are several other teams that are very capable of making a deep run," Hamann said. "It should be fun. We are just excited for the opportunity to play in the D-C tournament again. It's always been one of the premier holiday girls basketball tournaments in the area."

The Hawks (6-5) open on Monday against Hampshire (2-4) at 10 a.m.

"Our goal is to always take it one game at a time and strive to be better than the previous

day," Hamann added. "With so many quality teams, players and coaches in this tournament, each game will pose a huge challenge for us. We will not have time to dwell on the past when we have four games in four days. We will stay centered, we will continue to focus on our next opponent and we are going to have fun."

Hall of fame coach Babbi Barreiro has been bringing her Fillies (currently 8-4) to Dundee-Crown for most of the 2000s.

The Fillies, seeded No. 2 at D-C, handed recent No. 1 Class 4A ranked Hersey one of its three defeats in an overtime thriller and they have a win over highly-regarded Carmel.

"I like the direction the kids are moving in," said Barreiro, whose club features Division I prospect Sophie Swanson, who has a pair of 30-plus scoring games this winter. "Seven of our 12 games have been against highly-ranked opponents and that is going to help us down the stretch I hope. The kids are playing well together and are a lot of fun to work with."

The Fillies, who start against the host Chargers (1-4) at 8:30 p.m. Monday, were sixth at D-C In 2019.

"We are looking forward to getting back (to Carpentersville) after having the year away from tournaments, etc.," Barreiro added. "They run a great show, top to bottom. We hope to contend for the championship. The competition is great and we get to see some teams we might not normally see in the regular season.

Buffalo Grove coach Martha Kelly is excited to coach her Bison at D-C.

"Dundee-Crown is the best Christmas tournament in the state," she said. "It attracts the best competition. Barrington and Stevenson are the teams to beat in the tournament."

Stevenson won 52-41 at Barrington two weeks ago.

"What I love about the tournament is that it is an opportunity to play different teams, such as our first-round game (5:30 p.m.) vs. South Elgin (10-1)," Kelly said. "I'm a big believer in improving by playing good competition and that is what we will get at Dundee-Crown."

Her Bison (4-8) are still adjusting and figuring things out. They are working through some injuries to two top contributors (Sydney Jacobs, who recently returned, and Hanna Glanz who is still unavailable).

Maine West and New Trier, longtime staples at D-C, had to pull out of the tournament due to COVID protocols.

The title game is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m.

At Morton College:

This inaugural event has also attracted some of the top teams in the state.

Two Mid-Suburban League clubs are in the 16-team field: defending Class 4A champion Fremd and two-time 4A state runner-up Rolling Meadows (2013 and 2014).

Over the years, Fremd has always been involved in high quality tourneys. This year, it's no different for the Vikings (9-4), who were also back-to-back Class 4A state runners-up in 2015 and 2016.

"We get four amazing games," said Dave Yates on why he chose to take his team to Cicero. "It's loaded. We expect to be tested."

The MSL West leaders' first test will come against Geneva (7-3) at 4:45 p.m. on Monday.

"It's the best tournament in the state," Yates said. "We're excited to play in it with all the really good teams. We do this every Christmas, so let's do it again."

Rolling Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky sends his team (8-4) out against Joliet West (8-1) in its tourney opener at 1:15 p.m. on Monday.

"I like how we are playing right now," he said. "We've been pretty balanced of late and we will need contributions from even more of our kids. Right off the bat, we play a very talented Joliet West."

The Mustangs most recently competed at the Libertyville tournament.

"We've just looked for different experiences for our teams," Kirkorsky said. "We've played in a number of different holiday tournaments over the years and we thought the Morton College tourney was a good fit for this year's group."

Kirkorsky knows his team will be matched up with some of the best teams in the state over the four-day event.

"The tournament will provide us with high-level competition," he said. "And it will help us grow as we move into the second half of the season."

The title game is scheduled for Thursday at 8:15 p.m.

Blenner Classic at St. Viator:

Prospect (9-2) might be the team to beat in the eight-team tourney (Glenbrook North dropped out due to COVID-19 protocols and was replaced by St. Ignatius).

While the Knights may be a newcomer to the long-running tourney, their second-year coach Matt Weber is not. He is the former Wheeling head coach.

"When I was at Wheeling, I really enjoyed the Viator tournament so when I took over at Prospect I asked to see if I could get in the tournament and they had an opening," said Weber, who had a busy first few weeks of the season, doubling as the wide receivers coach for the Knights' Class 7A state football semifinalist.

"Plus being involved in a tournament that is close to the community your school is in will allow more people from the community and more of the players' family members to support you, which I saw as a positive."

Weber has the Knights (3-0) in first place in the MSL East after their big 50-47 win at Hersey last week.

"I just want our team to keep improving," Weber added. "Each game we identify things we need to work on through film study and our goal as a team is to work on those problems. We play one game at a time and always try to be 1-0. There are a lot of teams with good basketball programs in this tournament from a lot of different conferences, so we are excited to compete against good competition every night"

Weber credits the team's early success to great senior leadership.

"But something that is not overlooked is the role of our bench players," he added. "We have very competitive practices and we have a very talented bench that pushes our starters. It is not easy to be a bench player, but because of their constant drive it allows us to compete at a very high level every day at practice, which then makes it easier on game night.

"Without our senior leadership and without our bench players we wouldn't be where we are at this point in the season. We have high goals as a team and will continue to work each day to get us closer to those goals."

The Knights took a 54-47 win at St. Viator earlier this season.

The tourney host Lions are 8-4, coming off a 53-40 loss to Class 4A state power Benet. Senior Joy Bergstom had 16 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal in that game while her sophomore sister Mia collected 12 points and a pair of rebounds. Senior guard Nora Ahram, also a four-year starter like the South Dakota-bound Joy Bergstrom, tossed in 8 points with 8 points and 5 assists against the Redwings.

When the round-robin tourney begins on Monday, Prospect will open at 4 p.m. against Resurrection (7-3) followed by St. Ignatius (3-6) vs Grayslake Central (3-9) at 5:30 p.m. and Leyden (3-6) vs. St. Viator at 7 p.m.

The championship game is scheduled for Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.

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