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home : sports : sports   May 25, 2016

2/25/2014 11:01:00 AM
Chlum: Future looks bright for girls basketball

Kevin Chlum
Sports Editor

“Next year,” Mendota junior Brooke Carroll stressed at the end of a post-game interview Monday following the Lady Trojans’ 39-37 loss in a Class 3A IVC Sectional semifinal.

With Carroll and every single one of her teammates returning next season, the Lady Trojans have high hopes.

“The best thing about it is these girls are all juniors,” Mendota coach Kevin Geldon said. “I think we can learn a lot from it. We accomplished a lot this year. Our goal was to never be satisfied and keep working to regionals and beyond, and we accomplished that. This isn’t a wasted experience. This is a great experience for these girls to get this taste in their mouths, and hopefully leave with a little bit of a bad taste and some motivation to get to the next level this summer and offseason and see what we can do next year.”

Mendota isn’t the only place where there are plenty of reasons for optimism.

Girls basketball appears to be on the rise throughout the area.

Along with Mendota, Putnam County reached a sectional final, and both programs seem to be on solid ground for the near future.

While the Lady Panthers don’t return their entire roster, they do have several key players back as well as a young group that gained varsity experience.

Ottawa recently completed its 12th consecutive season of .500 or better basketball under veteran coach Mike Cooper, and it’s only a matter of time before traditionally strong programs such as St. Bede and Marquette bounce back.

The Lady Bruins won the Three Rivers Conference South Division on the sophomore level and had many sophomores gain valuable experience on the varsity, while the Lady Crusaders feature several talented players who will return, including junior standout Kendall Kaufmann.

La Salle-Peru had its best season in more than a decade with a lineup full of sophomores and juniors — and even a freshman toward the end of the season — and the Lady Cavaliers won the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division on the sophomore level.

Hall and Bureau Valley showed signs of improvement with young rosters, LaMoille-Ohio reached a regional championship game and Fieldcrest returns 2012-13 NewsTribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year Tessa Holland.

So Carroll was right.

Wait ’till next year.

Not just in Mendota, but throughout the Illinois Valley.

Kevin Chlum is the NewsTribune Sports Editor. He can be reached at 220-6939, or at Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.

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