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12/06/2012 Elgin Elgin senior Kristin Tayag (34) drives to the net down low during the home game against Streamwood on Thursday, December 6, 2012. Streamwood defeated Elgin 56-39. | Michael Jarecki ~ For Sun-Times Media
With holiday basketball tournaments just ended, Elgin schools are about to start it up all over again.
Elgin basketball coach Nick Bumbales pushed for the first girls tournament featuring all city schools and the initial Elgin City Classic is set to begin Tuesday with a somewhat unique format.
“I just wanted to give a little spotlight to girls basketball in Elgin and felt this was a good way to do it — and also to create some competition between schools and creates some camaraderie,” Bumbales said. “I wanted to bring the spotlight to the city itself.”
Initially, the idea was to have all six schools and play four games but St. Edward declined the invitation.
As a result, they decided upon a round-robin format but the twist is that every school will host one night of the tournament.
“It’s a nice thing because the girls get out and see what’s going on at each school, see the facilities,” Bumbales said. “I know we’ve never been over to Harvest Christian and have heard they have a nice facility.”
The four-game slate would have been ideal because each team would have avoided one game against one opponent.
“We already play Larkin a couple times and sometimes more in regionals, so we wouldn’t have played them, but we’re happy with the way this works out,” Bumbales said.
The tournament begins at Larkin with Harvest Christian playing Westminster Christian at 5:45, followed by Elgin against Larkin at 7:15. The next night at Elgin Academy, Larkin faces Westminster at 5 p.m. and Elgin plays Harvest Christian at 6:30. On Jan. 11 at Harvest Christian, Elgin Academy plays Westminster at 5:30 and Elgin plays Harvest Christian at 7. On Jan. 15 at Westminster, Larkin and Elgin Academy play at 5:30 and Elgin and Westminster at 7. Elgin hosts the final night on Jan. 18, with Larkin facing Harvest Christian at 5:45 and Elgin playing Elgin Academy at 7:15.
Westminster Christian has to be considered the favorite in the tournament based on a 10-4 record. The Warriors’ last game was a 62-21 rout of Harvest Christian, which is without star Sydney Doby due to a knee injury.
Elgin (4-13) halted an 11-game losing streak against Jacobs (50-47) in the Wheaton North tournament.
“Any win is a good win, and we had only three wins the past three years in the program so to have four wins on the season right now is a step in the right direction,” Bumbales said. “We’re fundamentally a little better and more competitive.”
The scoring of Maggie Powers and Kristin Tayag has been a plus for Elgin, while Tamara Milosevic had 17 rebounds in the win over Jacobs. Elgin also is benefiting from improved play by 5-foot-10 sophomore forward Abby Pierre-Louis.
“She’s a tremendous athlete and her skills on the court are getting better,” Bumbales said. “We’re a young team still — 14 of the 16 are underclassmen — and the thinking I have here is that we’ll have them two or three years on varsity to develop.
“We’re struggling against pressure and with our shooting, so we’ve got to pick those up.”
Larkin (1-14) will be hoping to end a seven-game losing streak when it opens the tourney against Elgin. The Maroons were the only team Larkin beat, 53-47 on Dec. 4.
Royals coach Ruben Flores has scouted the teams in the tournament and likes how his team matches up against them.
“We’ve been off since Dec. 20 so we’ve been working on fundamentals a lot and getting basic offense and defense down and I expect our execution is going to look better,” he said.
The Royals are looking for someone to complement the scoring of Quixmia Washington (13 ppg).
“She’s a great point guard for us, but really she’s a No. 2 guard,” Flores said. “We need somebody else to get the ball up the floor and work others into the offense.”
Holiday tournaments did little to change the scenery in area conference play, but Huntley came away with some momentum after a surprising opening-round 34-32 loss to Conant at the Mundelein tournament. The Red Raiders got another chance to play Conant later in the tournament and won 43-39. In the process, they’ve built momentum with three straight wins.
After starting with two wins in the tourney, Streamwood dropped back-to-back games to Vernon Hills and Libertyville and the Sabres take their first losing streak of the season.
“We’ve got to do a little bit better job of taking care of the ball,” Streamwood coach George Rosner said. “When we do, we’ve got enough scorers and people who can do a lot of damage.”
The Sabres have a break until Jan. 11 when they resume Upstate Eight River play against St. Charles North.
St. Charles East (10-7) and Hampshire (5-10) are among the hottest teams in the area beyond Burlington Central and Huntley. The Whip-Purs have won five out of six after an 0-9 start, and completed the Lisle tournament with three straight wins over Reed-Custer, Timothy Christian and Westmont. East won the consolation title at the Wheaton North tournament.
Burlington Central (13-2) gets one of its most difficult tasks to date Saturday night with a road game at Kaneland (8-4). It’s a part of Kaneland’s “Pack the Place” day (4 p.m.) and a possible postseason preview because both teams are in the same regional at Burlington Central.