Maine South starting to play its best basketball

One of the Northwest suburbs' girls basketball teams currently on the biggest roll is Maine South, which has won eight of its last nine games through Monday.

And the Hawks' win last Saturday came against Prospect, which entered the game with a 13-game winning streak.

Coach Jeff Hamann's girls topped the Knights, 61-51, behind 20 points from Emily Pape followed by Ava Blagojevich (1), Caroline Barker (8) and Caitlin Leyden (8).

At 11-6, the Hawks' only loss in their last eight games was in overtime to Lake Forest. It was South's first game back from a COVID-19 pause.

The Hawks have had a lead in the fourth quarter in 16 of their 17 games.

"We are showing that we have learned from some early-season losses," said Hamann, whose brother Jim led Prospect's girls golf teams to Class 2A state titles in 2011 and 2012.

"And we are starting to play our best basketball right now."

Maine South (5-1 in the Central Suburban North) took a 49-43 decision at Glenbrook North on Tuesday.

Meegan Fahy led the Hawks with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 7 steals while Pape added 12 points and 7 rebounds.

State ranked:

After winning the talent-laden Morton College Christmas tourney, Mid-Suburban West leader Fremd (16-5, 5-0) made its first appearance this season in the Class 4A state poll.

This week, the Vikings checked in at No. 5.

"It is always nice to see your team mentioned," said Vikes coach Dave Yates. "But the only rankings our program cares about are how we finish the season. Those rankings are final and also involve our kids having to step up and beat teams."

Yates' teams know a little something about that. They are the defending 4A champs and were second in 2015 and 2016.

"When it all comes down to it, sectional seeds and polls don't mean much," Yates added. "What matters is how you perform on those big nights (championships). That matters in our program."

It's been a matter of time but senior center Brianna Wooldridge (IUPUI recruit) is making a big impact now as she is getting back to full strength from a knee injury she suffered last spring against Barrington.

"Knee rehab is a marathon and not a sprint," Yates said. "Bri and our training staff have worked countless hours to get her back on the floor. We were hoping she'd be back a bit earlier this season but we were not going to skip any steps along the way."

Duckmann double:

Elk Grove senior Lili Duckmann received all-tournament honors for the second time at the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic at Wheaton North.

Due to a back issue, Duckmann played in only two games in Wheaton. She saw limited action against Palatine and missed a game against Glenbard South.

However, in two games against Glenbard North (Grens played the Panthers twice due to teams dropping out for COVID-19), she scored 27 points and 10 rebounds and then 23 points and 9 rebounds.

Duckmann is averaging 15.5 points per game.

Super Stark:

Palatine senior Madi Stark had quite a week at the Bill Neibch Falcon Classic at Wheaton North, where she was named to the all-tourney team.

While averaging 14 points a game, she also became the program's all-time assist and steals leader during the tournament.

Junior guard Megan Kim and freshman center Molly Pieper have hit double figures in some key victories, providing the Pirates (9-8) some quality performances.

Coach Bill LePage also said sophomore Lindsay Plourde continues to play a key role in the lineup and will be important down the stretch.

"It's been peaks and valleys so far this season," LePage said. "We just want to make sure we are peaking at the right time in February."

Mighty Mazza:

Only a freshman, Aria Mazza has averaged 14.8 points and 3 assists in Conant's last six games.

Mazza and the Cougars gave state-ranked Fremd one of its toughest games, falling 57-55 in double overtime last week.

"The key to our effort was our energy and unselfishness throughout the game," said Conant coach Todd Strauch. "We did a great job being aggressive and playing with confidence on both ends of the court. Our girls really battled all game."

Lions' den:

St. Viator came out of its own 38th annual Blenner Classic tournament with a 12-5 record.

"We are a work in progress," said Lions coach Jason Raymond. "We are working hard at developing on the floor chemistry."

Hoffman leader:

Senior guard Ashley Oliver leads coach Brad Reibel's Hoffman Estates Hawks with her 19.9 scoring average.

Coach Kipp's Hoopsfest:

The 32nd annual coach Kipp Hoopsfest, named for former Maine West hall of fame coach Derril Kipp, is set for this weekend with games at Montini and Benet high schools.

Saturday's action takes place at Montini with the first game at 9:30 a.m. featuring Maine West vs. Timothy Christian. Fremd and Phillips meet at 3:30 p.m.

On Monday, games will be played at Benet High School. Hersey, ranked No. 3, in Class 4A will face Fenwick at 10:30 a.m. and following the game will be a tribute to Friars retiring hall of fame coach Dave Power, who has more than 1,000 wins. Huskies coach Mary Fendley has more than 500.

At 10:15 a.m., Rolling Meadows will face Homewood-Flossmoor.

Balanced Mustangs:

Senior guard Emily Galvan leads Rolling Meadows at 15 points a game but coach Ryan Kirkorsky gets plenty of balance with Nicole Davis, Roisin Grandberry, Moira Hickey and Alison Sellergren all contributing key points.

Grandberry leads the team with 7.6 rebounds per game.

Seniors Davis, Olivia Dizonno, Stacy Dollia, Galvan, Hickey and Alison Sellergren were honored at the Mustangs' Senior Night last Friday.

"We've played a demanding schedule," said Kirkorsky whose team is 11-8 and 3-2 in the Mid-Suburban East. "We're looking forward to playing our best basketball down the stretch."

Special thanks:

Fred Allman, the Mid-Suburban League assignment chairman for boys and girls basketball, sends out a special message to all of his officials.

"I'd like to give a special thanks to all the basketball officials in all the area conferences for their incredible work in covering all the games in these times," Allman said.

  Elk Grove's Lili Duckmann (12) takes a shot over the Vernon Hills' defense during a girls basketball game in Vernon Hills earlier this season. Paul Valade/
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