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Streamwood's Jessica Cerda (left) and Hannah McGlone during the second quarter of their game against St. Charles North Friday evening in Streamwood. | Michael R. Schmidt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Call them the “Big Three, 2.0.”
A generation ago under coach George Rosner the Streamwood Sabres achieved a share of a conference title with their “Big Three”: center Donna Groh and guards Chris Francke and Renee Kanak.
The new trio at Streamwood — center Hannah McGlone and guards Jessica Cerda and Deja Moore — appear close to achieving the same type of notoriety as the 1987-88 group did with Rosner as coach.
“It would mean so much to us,” said McGlone, a 6-foot junior. “It’s like, to us, making history.”
“That’s our ultimate goal right now,” added Cerda, a senior who has already committed to a scholarship to Chicago State.
The Sabres need a win at home Friday night over Geneva to clinch at least a share of the Upstate Eight River crown. Then they would need just to win at Larkin (Jan. 31) or at home over Batavia (Feb. 2) to own it outright.
If they’re able to achieve this, and next month to also go on to win the school’s first girls regional since 1987-88, there’s no doubt the trio will get the bulk of the credit.
“They’re each one a little bit different,” Rosner said. “We try to move them around.”
It seems the Sabres have almost every base covered with their modern day trio.
“Any time we need an outside shot, they look to me,” Cerda said. “Any time we need a drive to the basket we look to Deja, and Hannah can usually post up anybody and get inside.
“But it’s not like our other starters don’t do anything. I mean, they can hit the outside shots. Brittany (Delao) rebounds and Holly (Foret) with her outside shooting is a big help and both play defense. It’s just a great team this year.”
Each of the big three has sharpened their skills enough to let the Sabres rise from a 15-14 record in 2011-12 to 17-4 now.
Cerda’s shot has a little less arc and has been more consistent. She has 41 three-pointers, only seven less than last year’s full-season total. She also has become more well-rounded by shooting 40 percent from the field, while averaging 4.2 assists, 3.2 steals and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Moore has become better at finishing at the hoop and her 13.5-point scoring average shows it. She averaged only 7.8 last year.
McGlone has worked hard at eliminating the foul trouble which plagued her as a sophomore. It’s not easy to avoid foul trouble when blocking shots is a big part of your game, but McGlone has become adept at the block. She stops it now rather than swatting wildly at it. As a result, she is averaging a whopping 5.4 blocked shots per game.
“I think I’ve gotten smarter defensively so I don’t go full-out for the huge smack,” McGlone said. “I just look for the tip to get it out of their hands.
“Coach (Angie) Oates (Sabres sophomore coach) helped me out on that a lot this summer. She was always telling me to tip it to myself or a teammate if I couldn’t tip it to myself.”
Getting the conference title outright won’t be easy. The Sabres beat Geneva 53-45 on the road Dec. 12. Since then, Geneva has come within two of beating strong DeKalb and Benet teams while beating Batavia and St. Charles East in the conference.
“We really moved the ball offensively in that (win over Geneva), scored quite a bit more than they thought we were going to score, and defensively we gave them a lot of problems,” Rosner said. “They’re going to be ready for us after we beat them at their place.
“They’re going to come in knowing they can get a share of the conference or more. So we’ve got to refocus and get ready for them.”
With a win Saturday afternoon (2:30) at Richmond-Burton, Burlington Central clinches at least a share of its first girls conference basketball crown since Darlene Guyett was coaching stars like Cory Bazany, Meg McGuire and Rachael McCurdy in 2006-07.
The Rockets could clinch more than a share of the Big Northern East, though. It could be an outright title Central is celebrating if it wins Saturday’s game, depending on whether North Boone or Richmond-Burton wins Thursday night’s game against each other.
If Richmond-Burton beats North Boone and Central wins Saturday, it would mean an outright title for Central. North Boone had just two conference losses through Wednesday, as did Richmond-Burton.
Hampshire, Richmond-Burton, and Marengo have all won or shared titles since the Rockets last won one.
With a roster almost all freshmen and sophomores, the Rockets figure to be challenging for more titles in the future.
One area Class 4A coach, after a game at Central, commented that the Rockets were going to be dominant.
Then the coach looked up at banners of Big Northern teams and added, “Against those guys? Are you kidding me?”
Westminster Christian already had one crowning moment last week by clinching the Northeast Athletic Conference title, but this weekend gets a chance to add another title: NAC tournament champs.
The conference tournament is being held at Luther North Friday and Saturday.
Not surprisingly, Westminster Christian is top seed in the Harvest Christian Class 1A Regional, with Christian Liberty seeded second. Westminster opens postseason Feb. 5 against the winner of the Harvest Christian-Cristo Rey St. Martin Feb. 4 game. Elgin Academy, the fifth seed, plays Christian Liberty in a Feb. 5 game.
With a title, Westminster would host a sectional. The other top seeds at regionals feeding into the Westminster Class 1A Sectional are Chicago Waldorf, Morgan Park Academy, and Ida Crown.
The super-sectional is at DeKalb, the state’s No. 1-ranked Class A team, Freeport Aquin (AP rankings), could be in that game.
Class 3A and 4A seedings will be revealed on IHSA.org at 4 p.m. Thursday, with pairings released Friday.