Schaumburg, Fremd among Thanksgiving winners

Jacqie Strauch opened up her ninth season like none before.

The Schaumburg girls basketball coach won her own tournament for the first time as the Saxons went 5-0, including a 49-46 win over a 4-1 Downers Grove North team.

It is believed to be Schaumburg's first championship in the tourney since 2008.

The Saxons did it by cashing in on solid defense as they are averaging 16 steals and 21 deflections a game.

Offense came from many places, including senior Madi Dolecki, who is averaging 18 points along with 5.6 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Other leaders are senior Grace Schluckbier (8.4 points, 6 deflections, 2.6 steals), senior Symone Harrell (8.2 ppg, 3.2 spg, and 4 rpg) and senior Jadaya Branch (7.4 ppg and 3.6 spg).

“Audrey Schluckbier continues to command at the point and guard our opponent's best players,” said Strauch, a former standout guard at Sandburg High School and St. Francis University in Joliet. “We are getting great minutes from our first two players off the bench (Emma Jevtic is at 6 ppg and Elliana Malley is shooting 45 percent from the 3-point range).

Dolecki was named the tourney MVP while Grace Schluckbier and Harrell were also all-tourney selections.

In the win over DGN, the Saxons received a big 3-pointer from senior Elliana Malley to end the first half.

Branch, who averaged 9 points and 3 steals in the tourney, converted a one-and-one and Audrey Schluckbier tossed in a huge 3-pointer to give the Saxons the lead in the second half.

Branch was named the Schaumburg Basketball Player of the Week.

“Jada's growth over the off-season is evident and she's off to a very strong start,” Strauch said. “Driving with ease in big moments, her leadership and dynamic play helped us secure the championship.”

Hampshire champs: State power Fremd (4-1) began the season by winning the Hampshire tourney with a 4-0 record as juniors Ella Todd and Coco Urlacher were named to the all-tourney team.

“I'm very pleased with the balance this team has showed five games into the season,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates. “We have had six players score in double digits during the tournament. We still have many things to improve on, but I like the direction we are heading in.”

One side note, the son of Fremd assistant girls basketball coach Jim Weaver, defensive back PJ Weaver, had the interception with 1:02 left that sealed Cary-Grove's Class 6A state football title on Saturday 23-20 over East St. Louis.

Jim Weaver is the winningest softball coach in Fremd history going 395-125, including a Class AA second and third place finish, from 2002 to 2016.

Tom Kendall champs: Rolling Meadows won the Tom Kendall Pilgrim Classic last week, going 4-0 after its last win of the tourney, 48-26, over Resurrection.

In that game, Olivia Zielinski had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds in addition to 3 assists and 2 steals. Loyola recruit Roisen Grandberry added 8 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and 6 blocks.

Zielinski, Grandberry and Ciara McMahon were named to the all-tourney team.

Dandy debut: Courtney Ludois made her Hersey coaching debut a sparkling one, leading the Huskies to a 4-1 record at the very competitive Bison Classic at Buffalo Grove High School.

The Huskies capped their run with a 49-41 victory over Carmel, led by senior Annika Manthy's 20 points.

The senior forward reached double figures in all five games, including a game-high 22 points against Barrington.

Manthy and sophomore teammate Kate Donovan were named to the all-tourney team.

The Huskies' only loss was to tourney champ Maine South (5-0).

“It was a good tournament for us.” said Loudois, a former standout at Rockton Hononegah and Marquette University where she was one of the nation's top 3-point shooters. “We had a tough opener against Maine South (61-42 loss) and that was going to be tough no matter what. But we learned from it and we came back and got four good wins after that,

“What I liked best about our games against Carmel and Libertyville (51-49 overtime win) is that we were down both times and came back. We challenged the kids, and they listened and responded. Against Carmel, we were down the whole first half.”

Manthy can't wait to continue her final season.

“I'm looking forward to it,” said the Richmond recruit. “Because I think we have some great pieces and great people.”

Ludois said a lot of people stepped up for the defending Mid-Suburban League champions.

“Annika was in double figures every game and we need her to do that every game,” Ludois said. “Kate Donovan is tenacious at point guard and Kiki Craft (junior guard) is so tough on defense. She is a game-changer there.”

Manthy's big game against Barrington came against a fellow future Atlantic 10 player, her friend and Barrington senior Molly O'Riordan, who has committed to Dayton.

“It was definitely a battle against Molly the whole game,” Manthy said. “It's always a challenge going against her and playing together in the same conference the next four years, this won't be the last game I play against her. It was a fun game for sure, it's always fun when you're playing against a friend.”

Two other area players will be playing in the Atlantic 10 as well. St. Viator's Mia Bergstrom is committed to Saint Louis and Rolling Meadows' Roisen Grandberry is a Loyola recruit.

With her versatile inside/outside game, O'Riordan has already been tabbed as a stretch four by Dayton coach Tamika Williams-Jeter.

“They see me as a stretch four so I'll play inside but they like my 3-pointer so I'll be able to step on the perimeter when I have my spacing,” O'Riordan said. “They see me all over the floor.”

Just as Barrington fans have seen O'Riordan the last four seasons.

One of those biggest fans is grandfather Jack McKee, the father of Molly's mother Wendy who starred for the Fillies in the 1980s.

“He's lived in Barrington the majority of his life and he comes to everything,” said Molly, who was also a middle hitter on Barrington's Class 4A state finalist this fall. ”He keeps all my stats and he has all the old articles on my mom from when she played. (Molly wears the No. 54 just like Wendy did). He (Jack) has a bunch of books of her stats from high school and anytime I'm in the paper he clips out the stories and sends them over.”

The only senior starter back from last season, O'Riordan is serving as a leader this winter.

“She is a nice leader for these kids right now,” Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro said. “We've got a lot of youth on the floor with four freshmen and two sophomores. We're young.”

“I'm doing a better job leading and I think Buffalo Grove (win) was good for us,” O'Riordan said. “I have to focus on leadership and get everyone involved in the game.”

She certainly does with her nifty rifle crosscourt passes.

“She is an excellent passer,” Barreiro said. “That makes her versatile because teams double her and she is able to find the open person.”

“I consider myself a good passer and being really good at seeing the floor,” she said. “Teams like to double down on me a lot in this game, I was even triple teamed at times. So any time I can get that cross-court pass to our open shooter I like to. They've been getting some more confidence now and we just need them to shoot the ball.

“This was a great tourney to kick off my senior year. I've been here the last three years and probably would have been for four if not for the COVID-19 season. I love this tournament.”

Silver for Prospect: Prospect took second place in the York tournament. Sophomore Alli Linke was selected to the all-tournament team averaging 12.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.8 steals in the four games.

All 15 players on the Knights' roster are multisport athletes and all of Prospect coaches are multisport coaches.

“To say the least, we believe in playing multiple sports,” said Prospect coach Matt Weber, whose team went 3-1 in the tourney.

Youthful Bison: Buffalo Grove coach Martha Kelly put one of the younger teams on the floor in the Bison Classic with only three seniors on her 10-player roster.

“We started the season with some really good competition,” Kelly said. “We played Evanston in our first game, and there were no easy games in our tournament. It's great exposure for our girls. All these teams we saw did a great job defensively, putting a lot of pressure on our offense, but it is a great learning opportunity for us.”

Praise for BG event: Barriero handed out some kudos to the officials of the Bison Classic.

“I love this tournament with all the very good teams here,” she said. “We've been coming here for a long, long time and we enjoy it. Buffalo Grove does such a classy job of running a tournament, They alway have.”

Travel circuit: Bison Classic champion Maine South (5-0) won't see its home floor until Dec. 15, the latest home opener for coach Jeff Hamnn in his six seasons.

When Evanston visits Park Ridge for that home opener, the Hawks will have played 11 games.

“So we'll just take it one game at a time,” Hamann said. “It will be a while before we come home but we'll appreciate it for now and when we do get home, we'll be excited.”

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