DARIEN — Anyone who watched Toni Romiti play basketball could clearly see her emotions at play on the court.
And that was her dialing it back a bit.
"Each year I try to learn to control my emotions," the Hinsdale South senior said. "Everyone who knows me knows I'm a colorful player, but from last year to this year I progressed and I feel like I learned to control myself because you have to if you want to be able to lead in a positive way."
And lead she did, helping lift the Hornets to a second consecutive West Suburban Gold title and a win over Proviso West in what was a de facto WSC title game in early February.
"It was probably a surprise to a lot of people," Romiti said of winning the conference title after the Hornets graduated four starters. "It surprised me a little bit and I'm pretty sure it surprised our coach a little, too. ... I experienced that last year so I'm happy the team got to experience that with me this year."
Romiti's teammates also got a chance to play alongside one of the best players to ever don a Hinsdale South uniform. She tallied more than 1,200 points in four varsity seasons, closing out with 476 points this season. Included in those 476 points were highlight-reel-type showings against Proviso East (40 points, what is believed to be a school record) and 10 three-pointers against district-rival Hinsdale Central (also a school record).
"She's phenomenal," said Downers Grove South coach Ellen O'Brien, whose team fell to Romiti and the Hornets twice this season. "She definitely has the talent, and she just exudes confidence."
As impressive as those single-game performances were, Romiti will take away a whole lot more from this season.
"The whole season was awesome," she said. "I remember when Kerry Just took a charge in the Proviso East game. I'm pretty sure it was her first charge of the year so that was really awesome."
Romiti also said a game in which MacKenzie Kern scored 26 points will be a major memory when she looks back on her senior season.
"That was a big deal to me because she's a good friend and we played together in grade school," said Romiti, who is looking to play at the next level and has visits planned to Long Island University and South Carolina Upstate.
As competitive and demanding as she was on the floor, Romiti was a bit of a softy away from the court. Before home games, she would take freshman Tatyana Presley and Sydney Kopp to Portillo's in an effort to help nurture the next crop of Hornets. And what does she hope they learned during those meals?
"One thing I always want them to remember is having fun and competing and playing with heart," she said. "Playing with heart, a coach can't teach you that. Anybody can have the skills, but playing with heart and hustle, that's what matters to me."
Romiti's basketball favorites
Current player: Derrick Rose
All-time player: Kobe Bryant, when I was younger
Movies: "Hoosiers," "Love and Basketball"
— Jason Rossi
A newcomer to Bolingbrook's program, Bugg made the transition to the Raiders' uptempo, pressing style look seamless. A speedy guard with deft ball-handling skills, Bugg's athleticism, scoring ability and tenacious defense added to Bolingbrook's ability to play its trademark style. Through the Raiders' regional title game, Bugg was averaging a team-high 16 points per game on 48-percent shooting.
A knee injury in early December forced the Illinois-bound Cattenhead to sit out for several weeks, but when she returned she had hardly missed a beat. A solid ball-handler with long-range accuracy, Cattenhead also possesses the speed to get to the rim and strength to finish inside with either hand. In 17 games of action, she was scoring 10.2 points per game on 49.1-percent shooting and led the team with a 76.1 free throw percentage.
Once Coleman got going, opponents had a hard time stopping her. She was able to dribble through traffic and get to the basket almost at will, but she also displayed incredible range that added to the Raiders' arsenal. Through 25 games, the all-around player was averaging 12.7 points per game, was shooting 52.8 percent from the field, was grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game and had dished a team-high 127 assists.
School: Downers Grove North
Often one of the most athletic players on the floor at any given time, Costello did a little bit of everything for the Trojans, ball-handling, long-range shooting and rebounding included. She led the team with 13.3 points per game to go along with 7.6 rebounds, 3.7 steals and 3.5 assists per game. Costello was also named West Suburban Silver all-conference as well as all-tournament at the Glenbard East Thanksgiving tourney.
Fernette, along with fellow seniors Kelly Urban and Skylar Tomko, was a key piece for a Lisle team that enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history. An Interstate Eight all-conference selection, Fernette averaged 10.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game and helped the Lions to an undefeated conference title and a spot in the regional championship game this winter.
School: Hinsdale South
A versatile player for the West Suburban Gold champion Hornets, Kern was listed on the roster as both a guard and a forward. She had the toughness and finishing ability to play in the paint along with seniors Kristen Demitrijevic and Kerry Just, but she also possessed the ball-handling and outside shooting to complement guards Toni Romiti and Mary Clare Ladd.
A veteran leader and the only senior starter on a young Redwings team that featured four sophomores and a freshman, Prasse averaged a team-high 16.8 points per game while handing out 3.1 assists per game and draining 37 three-pointers for the year. A back-to-back East Suburban Catholic all-conference selection, Prasse led Benet to a 20-10 record and a spot in the regional championship game.
School: Hinsdale South
A four-year varsity starter and four-time West Suburban Gold all-conference selection, Romiti went out with a bang, averaging 20 points per game, 4.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 85-percent shooting from the free throw line. She dropped 40 points in a win over Proviso East this season and made 10 three-pointers against Hinsdale Central. She finished her career with 1,206 points and 214 three-pointers.
School: Hinsdale Central
Rush was one of the best young players in the area. The West Suburban Silver all-conference selection averaged an astounding 21.2 points per game and set a new school record with 99 three-pointers this season. She also shot 85 percent from the free throw line and dished out 87 assists. "I hear that from a lot of coaches: 'I can't believe she's only a sophomore,'" coach Tom McKenna said.
School: Hinsdale Central
One of just three seniors on the roster, Sarros helped guide the Red Devils this season both on and off the court. On the floor, she averaged a double-double with 12.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game. Off the court, she was the leader for Central during a season in which it had separate four- and six-game winning streaks. "She was like money in the bank," coach Tom McKenna said. "You give her the ball and she would find a way to put it in the basket."
An Interstate Eight all-conference selection, the 6-foot-1 Sternard gave the Sentinels an edge with her height, but she also handled the ball at times and was key to breaking the press. The leading scorer and rebounder in 26 of Westmont's 30 games, she averaged 13 points and 8.9 rebounds per game while blocking 30 shots and shooting 49 percent from the field. "I am having trouble imagining what the team will be like without her," coach Mike McCord said.
This senior had a nice season for the Indians, stepping up in the absence of fellow senior Kelsey Motto, who missed most of the winter with a knee injury. Toth led Lemont in scoring with 10 points per game. She also topped the Indians in blocked shots (29), offensive rebounds (68) and defensive rebounds (123) while shooting 74 percent from the free throw line.
School: Downers Grove South
A three-year varsity player, Zemke did a little bit of everything for the Mustangs. In addition to averaging a team-best 9.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game, she also dished out 2.3 assists per contest. She scored 25 points against Proviso East this season and was the leading scorer and rebounder in more than half of South's games. "Without her we'd be at a big loss," South coach Ellen O'Brien said.
Benet: Emily Eshoo, Emma Hlavin, Emily Schramek
Bolingbrook: Destiny Harris, Kristen Moore, Shay Robinson
Downers Grove North: Jaida Green, Izzy Greenblatt, Claire Jagielo
Downers Grove South: Brittany Dietz, Claire Hardy, Nicole Janowiak
Hinsdale Central: Maggie Roglich
Hinsdale South: Kristin Dimitrijevic, Kerry Just
Lemont: Kim Jerantowski
Lisle: Skylar Tomko, Kate Twaddle, Kelly Urban
Westmont: Amanda Anderson, Mara Casper, Megan Seratt