Batavia's taking a trip to Florida

It has been and will be a whirlwind holiday time for the Batavia girls basketball team.

The Bulldogs competed over the holidays in the much-talked-about Morton College tournament. Batavia defeated Proviso East (66-24), lost to eventual tournament champion Fremd (56-34), lost to Lake Zurich (47-39) and defeated Evanston (57-49).

Tessa Towers had 14 points and 9 rebounds against Proviso, while Brooke Carlson had 9 points, 5 deflections and 2 assists, Kylee Gehrt and Hallie Crane each had 8 points.

Carlson logged 14 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals in the Fremd contest, while Towers had 13 points and 4 rebounds. Carlson exploded for 25 points to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals against Lake Zurich. She finished up with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals against Evanston. Towers added 11 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks. Nicole McLaughlin (7 points) and Jacque Schroeder (6 points, 4 rebounds) also contributed.

Carlson was an all-tournament first-team pick at Morton.

Batavia's fun continues this weekend when the team heads to South Florida for a pair of games. The Bulldogs play St. Thomas Aquinas out of Ft. Lauderdale on Friday and Miami Christian on Saturday - both games will be played in Ft. Lauderdale.

"It's an organization that runs shootouts/tournaments in the Miami area," Batavia coach Kevin Jensen explained. "We've had parents organize this trip over the last year or so. They have organized flights, hotel rooms and raised money for the trip."

Batavia was 10-6 through its first 16 games of the season. The Bulldogs also are gearing up to host their Martin Luther King Day shootout on Jan. 17. Batavia plays Lyons Township on the main court in the 7:30 p.m. featured attraction that day.

South Elgin update:

The Storm split four games at the Dundee-Crown-hosted Komaromy Classic, beating Buffalo Grove and Lake Park. "Those were two quality, tough teams," Storm coach Dan Mandernack noted. "That is the first time we won more than one game in the state's top one or two tourneys."

South Elgin lost to Barrington and Lake Forest at D-C to finish fourth overall. "It was a great experience," Mandernack said. "We played well. We learned a lot heading into the second half of the year. We played against all great teams and against a ton of all-state-quality kids."

Zoie Lewis and Caroline Croft were all-tournament at D-C. Also continuing to play well is Ella Winterhalder, who needs 18 points to hit the 1,000-career-point mark. She's three 3s away from becoming the program's all-time leader in that category with 202 made in her South Elgin tenure.

South Elgin was 12-3 overall heading into 2022 and a perfect 5-0 in Upstate Eight Conference play.

ACC update:

Aurora Central Catholic played in the Dixon Christmas tournament where it went 3-1. Two of the team's wins there came against Rockford Jefferson and Rockford Christian. The Chargers lost to host Dixon 43-31. The 3-1 mark pushed ACC to 11-6 overall.

"I felt we were ready to play and showed how competitive and tough we can be against many schools," ACC coach LeVada Smith said.

Sofia Corral averaged 17.3 points per game at Dixon, while Alexis Schuster and Riley Cwinski each averaged 8.5 points per contest.

"Sofia is only a freshman and has been a difficult matchup for many teams," Smith said. "She does it on both ends of the floor. Alexis is our 3-point specialist. She has the ability to make three to five 3s a game. She has a quick release and is not afraid to shoot Riley is starting to come into her own. She is another freshman, and after basically missing the first five weeks due to a stress reaction, she has provided additional scoring and a competitive drive to the team."

West Aurora update:

The Blackhawks have been sidelined by COVID-19 health and safety protocols for a couple weeks, costing them playing in the Wheaton North Falcon Classic.

West Aurora was 5-6 overall through its first 11 games, but is 4-1 in conference play, currently tied with Minooka for first. Its only loss came to Oswego East early and without key cog Riley Mont. Five of the six losses have come by 5 points or less, coach Teresa Waldinger pointed out.

Junior Aspen Weeks leads the Blackhawks at 13 points and 4 rebounds per game, while shooting 80% from the foul line.

"Aspen is a playmaker," Waldinger said. "She has a great court IQ."

Also helping out has been senior Izabel Valadez, who is averaging 9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

"Izabel sees the floor well, creates opportunities for others and handles the ball very well," Waldinger said. "All of this after taking the past two years off of basketball."

Burlington Central update:

Central's Taylor Charles was named to the all-tournament second team at the Montini Christmas tournament. She averaged 12.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2.5 assists per game at Montini.

The Rockets lost to York (45-40), Nazareth (32-28) and Loyola (47-40), "quality losses," Central coach Collin Kalamatas said. Central beat St. Francis 43-18. The Rockets were 8-6 heading into this week.

"Montini was a very competitive field and we are glad to have that experience to take us into the second half of the season," Kalamatas said. "Even though we dropped three games, we felt like we got better by competing against some really good teams in York, Naz and Loyola. These are the games that our team needs to push us into the final stretch of the season."

Jacobs update:

Jacobs split its four games at the Wheaton North tournament, finishing in 10th place. The Golden Eagles lost to Schaumburg in the consolation championship game.

"More players are finding ways to contribute to the game, whether it is on offense, defense or both ends of the floor," Jacobs coach Jon Reibel said. "Our defense continues to improve due to the players' willingness to work hard for each other and give their all to the defensive side of the floor."

Standouts of late for Jacobs have been senior guard Mackenzie Leahy, senior guard Bridget Grady and senior forward Janaya Banks. Leahy is averaging 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals per game.

"Mackenzie had a great first half of the year," Reibel said. "Bridget had a great first half by being the workhorse of the team, as well as our steady leader. She continuously finds ways to contribute in different ways from game to game. Janaya has had a great stretch over the last month with her rebounding, defense and finishing around the basket."

Kaneland update:

The Knights head into the new year 8-8 overall after a 2-2 split at the Oswego East tournament over the holidays. Kaneland scored wins there over Oswego and Metea Valley. McKenzie Schueler was all-tournament.

"We overcame some adversity to go 2-2 with three girls out for the whole tournament," Kaneland coach Kelsey Flanagan pointed out.

Flanagan has been pleased with Schueler's recent play. "McKenzie is shooting the ball really well right now, helping to stretch the defense."

Huntley update:

The Red Raiders went 1-3 at Montini Christmas tournament. Huntley was 8-4 overall heading into the new year.

"We played against some really good competition," Huntley coach Steve Raethz said. "We were playing without three starters in the tournament, and it was challenging playing short-handed, but I was really proud of our players and how hard they competed. We can definitely use the experience from playing against some outstanding teams to use as a springboard to improve in areas for the second half of the season. Ultimately, we need to regroup and get some players healthy for the second half of the season."

Raethz added the team found out over the holiday break that senior guard Nicole Flaherty is out for remainder of the season with a knee injury. She had been sidelined since Dec. 10. Huntley has also played without Jori Heard since Dec. 10. She is averaging a double-double this season and Raethz said the team is looking forward to her return this month.

At Montini, Huntley lost to Whitney Young, Loyola and Nazareth and beat York 37-36 on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in regulation. Freshman Anna Campanelli hit the go-ahead 3. Raethz also has been impressed with the recent play of Sammi Campanelli.

"Sammi has been playing great for us on both ends of the floor," he said. "She has been such a strong and tough defender. She has really improved her game and become an elite defender for our team."

  Mackenzie Leahy is averaging 17 points a game for Jacobs. Mark Welsh/
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