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Darien Thursday 11.15.12. Hinsdale Central's Maddie Roglich (left) blocks the shot of Hinsdale South's MacKenzie Kern (54) during their game on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, in Darien. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
The season ended in the first round of the Little Village Regional, denying the Hornets a chance to take on state powerhouse Young.
But the Hinsdale South girls basketball team still had an unexpectedly successful season.
Last season, the Hornets made it to the regional championship after winning the West Suburban Gold crown, then graduated four starters. Head coach Jen Belmonte returned one starter, senior guard Toni Romiti, and two classmates, forwards Kristin Dimitrijevic and Kerry Just.
“At the beginning of the season, a lot of people didn’t think we could win conference for a second time,” Just said. “People doubted us. We began turning a lot of heads.”
They turned heads all the way to a 17-9 overall record and an 11-1 mark in the WSC Gold that netted a second consecutive championship.
“We started slow at the beginning of the season,” Belmonte said, “but the defense improved during the season and after the new year, we went 10-0 before losing the last two games.”
The final game was a 59-45 loss to North Lawndale that ended the Hornets’ season.
“We played a tough opponent that not many people in the suburbs have heard of,” Belmonte said. “They’re a good team and I feel like we were both seeded too low, but it’s hard to win when you shoot just 24 percent overall.”
Hinsdale South’s season was bookended by rough stretches. The team opened the campaign in November by dropping all three games in its tournament. They also went 1-3 at the Montini tournament over Christmas. But in between those hiccups, the team won 16 of 17.
Junior guards Mackenzie Kern and Mary Claire Ladd are two starters Belmonte has tagged to carry the torch next year as senior leaders. It’s a plan that has worked before.
“We’re kind of used to having to replace players and we don’t have much height coming back,” Belmonte said. “But we do have a lot of fast and athletic guards coming back.”
The graduation of Romiti and her output hurts most. Just, however, feels the team will be fine with the leadership they will have next season.
“Mary Claire and Mackenzie are ready to step up to the plate,” Just said.
“We just have to treat the underclassmen the same way we were treated,” Kern said.