CL South, St. Edward coaches enjoy unique opportunity

Please excuse Crystal Lake South boys basketball coach Matt LePage if he forgets what day it is over the next week or so.

LePage will be plenty busy watching his freshman daughter, Laken, play for the Gators' girls varsity basketball team in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic at Johnsburg (through Dec. 22), while coaching his senior son, Cooper, as the Gators compete in the Hinkle Holiday Tournament (Dec. 27-30) at Jacobs.

"It's special, that's for sure," said LePage. "I'm truly grateful to be able to watch both play the game they love and represent our school and family. I really enjoy being just a fan watching Laken and her teammates.

"As a dad, I love it when Cooper talks to her and gives her advice about handling adversity or how to attack a certain defense."

LePage caught a break of sorts, as the girls and boys play in tournaments on back-to-back weeks rather than simultaneously.

"As a parent and fan, you can watch it all," said LePage.

St. Edward girls coach Michelle Dawson takes her team to the Lisle Holiday Tournament (Dec. 27-30), while her junior son, Kaden, plays for the Green Wave at the ICCP/Westmont Tournament (Dec. 27-30). St. Edward boys coach Andy Zielinski's senior son, Ben, is a starting guard for the Green Wave.

In other girls tournament action, Aurora Central Catholic competes in the KSB holiday event (Dec. 27-29) at Dixon; Bartlett, Elgin, Jacobs, and West Aurora play in the Falcon Holiday Classic at Wheaton North (Dec. 27-30); Burlington Central and St. Charles East play in the Montini Christmas Classic (Dec. 27-30); Cary-Grove is at the Libertyville Tournament (Dec. 22-23); Kaneland plays in the Oswego Holiday Shootout (Dec. 27-28); and Streamwood competes in the Elmwood Park Holiday Tournament (Dec. 27-29).

Dundee-Crown plays host to its 39th annual Charger-Komaromy Classic (Dec. 26-29), which includes Huntley (11-1), Hampshire, South Elgin, and St. Charles North. Huntley opens against Buffalo Grove at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 26, while the North Stars face Maine West at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 26. South Elgin faces Maine South at 10 a.m. on Dec. 26, while Hampshire plays Lake Park afterward at 11:30 a.m.

Batavia and Geneva are headed to the Fremd Invite at Morton Community College (Dec. 27-30), with the Bulldogs squaring off against Lincoln-Way West at 5 p.m. on Dec. 27, while the Vikings face Marist earlier that day at 12:15 p.m.

"We really look forward to Christmas basketball," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows. "There's great talent at this tournament, and it's a great challenge for us."

On the boys side, Elgin and Jacobs will stay home for the holidays as tournament hosts.

Aurora Christian heads to Bloomington for the State Farm Classic (Dec. 27-30); Aurora Central Catholic, Elgin, Elgin Academy, and Westminster Christian play at Elgin (Dec. 27-30); Bartlett, Cary-Grove, Larkin, and Streamwood join CLSouth at Jacobs (Dec. 27-30).

Geneva, Dundee-Crown, and Huntley play in the Chuck Dayton Tournament at DeKalb (Dec. 27-30).

"Playing at DeKalb allows us to play different teams and styles," said Geneva coach Scott Hennig. "We won't play any teams from the DuKane Conference.

"It's a great tournament, and the DeKalb athletic department runs a first-class event."

Batavia plays in the Jack Tosh Invite at York (Dec. 26-30); Harvest Christian is in the EC Nichols Tournament at Marengo (Dec. 22-23, 27-28); Hampshire competes in the Wheeling Tournament (Dec. 27-30); and St. Charles East opens against H-F on Friday at the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic (Dec. 23, 26-28).

"We see teams we don't normally see," said Saints coach Patrick Woods. "We kind of treat it like a mini-state tournament.

"One of the best teams I had here that made it to the sectional finals - we went 0-4 in that holiday tournament. I don't think people realize that but it just got us better."

Burlington Central, Marmion, and Kaneland drew the top 3 seeds at the 59th annual Plano Christmas Classic (Dec. 27-30).

"The atmosphere at Plano is second to none," said Rockets coach Brett Porto. "If you're fortunate to advance throughout the tournament, the crowds fill up the bleachers like nowhere else around.

"The players love to be in that environment, and there are few places that can provide that nowadays."

St. Charles North and West Aurora head to the 91st Pontiac Holiday Tournament (Dec. 28-30).

"I like everything about that tournament," said North Stars coach Tom Poulin, whose team opens against top-seeded Simeon at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 28. "It's the first one ever in America. They talk about having had to take five years off for World Wars.

"The town shuts down. The most important thing in the world is the tournament that week. They treat you like pros. They launder your uniforms, pay for your meals, pay for your hotels, and pay for your gas. You don't pay a dime. They just take care of you."

The competition is second to none, as well.

"You're going to run into Simeon, Curie, New Trier, Benet, OPRF, (Peoria) Manual, Bloom - it's just amazing," said Poulin. "I love it."

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