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Postseason tipoff time for girls basketball

Area teams start on playoff road with hopes of making state finals

York's Jessica Bianchi dribbles the ball in a Feb. 1 game against Lyons Township. The Dukes will have home court advantage when they open postseason play next week.
York's Jessica Bianchi dribbles the ball in a Feb. 1 game against Lyons Township. The Dukes will have home court advantage when they open postseason play next week.

The Class 3A and 4A girls basketball playoffs get underway next week, and while teams from the area will head separate directions at the start of the postseason, the end goal is the same — to reach Redbird Arena in Normal for the state finals March 7 and 8.

Addison Trail

Class: 4A

Regional: Batavia

Sectional: Addison Trail

Seed: No. 19

First game: 7 p.m. Monday vs. No. 14 Elk Grove

Outlook: The Blazers won just four games in the regular season. Connie Barkoulies and Katie Dziabis have been key players for an AT team which didn't have much varsity experience entering the season.

If AT can pull off a first round upset against Elk Grove, regional host Batavia would be up next on Tuesday.

Glenbard East

Class: 4A

Regional: Glenbard East

Sectional: Addison Trail

Seed: No. 18

First game: 7 p.m.Tuesday vs. No. 16 Schaumburg

Outlook: Despite sporting a young roster, the Rams have showed a lot of improvement this season. East went from zero to four wins in the DuPage Valley Conference this year, with season sweeps of Glenbard North and Naperville Central.

Sophomores Ashley Brown, Madison Koch, Brittany Paganucci and Brasia Solid have contributed. Upperclassmen Allison Hansen, Elie Donovan, Tajanae Key and Rachael Leifheit have also played big roles.

The Rams open against Schaumburg in a regional quarterfinal. A win would secure a meeting with top sectional seed and DVC champ Wheaton Warrenville South on Wednesday.


Class: 3A

Regional: Little Village

Sectional: Glenbard South

Seed: No. 1

First game: 6 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 16 Rauner College Prep or No. 18 Little Village

Outlook: Montini isn't defending a state title this year and maybe that will it hungrier to avoid being upset like last season.

The Broncos were a heavy favorite to win Class 3A last year, but settled for third place. The senior trio of Kelly Karlis, Kateri Stone and Sara Ross lead a talented team that has shown it's ability to play with anyone at state.

Head coach Jason Nichols has complained about his team's habit of coasting during games instead of playing hard for the duration. If Montini plays its best, it could win Class 3A.

"They just got to choose who they want to be and what they want to be," Nichols said.

Timothy Christian

Class: 3A

Regional: Timothy Christian

Sectional: Glenbard South

Seed: No. 13

First game: 7 p.m. Monday vs. No. 20 Instituto Health Sciences Charter

Outlook: The Trojans faced a tough task this season with five new starters and a new coach. Of all the new faces, Kaitlyn Gehrke and Juliana Stremler have been solid in the paint.

"It has been a tough season, but our girls have turned a corner and our last four games have been much better," coach Michele Strube said.

Timothy would face No. 4 seed Nazareth Tuesday if it wins Monday.


Class: 4A

Regional: Batavia

Sectional: Addison Trail

Seed: No. 6

First game: 8 p.m. Tuesday vs. No. 11 St. Charles East

Outlook: Despite a West Suburban Gold title and a 22-4 record, the Warriors landed just the sixth seed in the sectional. Part of that is because of the quality at the top of the Addison Trail sectional.

Wheaton Warrenville South, Downers Grove North and Batavia also won conference titles and are seeded ahead of the Warriors. Batavia is in the Warriors' regional as the No. 3 seed.

The Warriors have endured four injuries late in the regular season, but will be healthier come the postseason. Starting forward Melissa Rader and top bench guard Danielle Velasquez are out with ACL injuries.

Molly Krawczykowski, who just signed to Illinois State for track and field, uses her speed to lead the Warriors on both ends of the floor. Sophomore forward Josie Zabran has been a key post player since being called up to the varsity team midseason.

"I have a lot of confidence in the girls," coach Terry Harrell said. "It looks ugly sometimes, but they usually get it done."

Willowbrook opens against St. Charles East, which it defeated 67-54 at Wheaton North's holiday tournament. The regional title game is Feb. 20.


Class: 4A

Regional: York

Sectional: Addison Trail

Seed: No. 10

First game: 8 p.m. Wednesday vs. No. 7 Proviso West

Outlook: After a slow start the Dukes picked up their play in the second half of the season. York enters the playoffs with a 14-12 record, including an 11-4 record since Dec. 23.

In the opener, York will face Proviso West for the third time this season. West won both games, but the last meeting on Jan. 31 was just a two-point game when leading scorer Mikaela Boyd went down with an injury. A win over the Panthers likely means a third game against West Suburban Silver champ Downers Grove North in the Feb. 21 final.

Playoff facts

1. Montini has five state trophies in the past six seasons, including four in a row.

2. Willowbrook is in search of its first regional title since 1996, which ended a run of four straight regional titles and was also the last time the Warriors won conference.

3. Glenbard East has four playoff victories in the past five seasons.

4. York had a losing record the last time the Dukes won a regional, which was 2009.

5. Timothy Christian, which is now in Class 3A, won Class 2A regionals in 2009 and 2011.

6. Addison Trail last won a regional title in 1985.

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