Girls Basketball: Sophomores contributing in big wayLake Zurich, IL 1/28/12 Fenwick and Lake Zurich faced off in Maine West's Sweet 16 girl's basketball tournament held at Lake Zurich. Fenwick's Jade Owens (1) passes the ball over Lake Zurich's Maisie Cox (4) | Rob Dicker~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 13, 2012 7:26PM
Coaches like to say that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores.
The best thing about this year’s sophomore class is that they will be around for two more years.
Fenwick coach Dave Power, whose teams won state championships behind sophomore Erin Lawless in 2001 and freshman Tricia Liston in 2007, said that this year’s crop of sophomores is one of the best he’s seen in a while.
“There are a lot of schools relying heavily on their sophomores,” he said. “I think a lot of it has to do with lot of these girls in the sophomore class got involved in travelling AAU ball and played up. You see a lot better skill set in that sophomore class.”
Fenwick has one of the better sophomores around in 5-foot-7 point guard Jade Owens.
“We feel Jade is the top point guard in her class,” Power said. “Like a lot of sophomores, Jade played AAU ball and played up, so the adjustment when they got to high school wasn’t so dramatic.
“You see girls who are real good ballhandlers, real good shooters. ... The sophomore class is probably the hottest class going in Illinois right now.”
Owens is not the area’s only stellar sophomore.
Rolling Meadows won the Mid-Suburban League championship with three sophomores in its starting lineup – MSL East Player of the Year Jackie Kemph, 6-1 forward Jenny Vliet and 5-10 forward Alexis Glasgow, who hit the winning shot in the title game against Fremd.
Morgan Park reached the Windy City championship thanks in large part to 5-7 sophomore guard Shami Goodman, who scored 19 points in the title game. “We’re good this year,” Morgan Park coach Thomas Johnson said. “But we’re going to real good the next couple of years.”
Montini coach Jason Nichols and the Broncos could be headed to a few more state titles thanks to a number of talented sophomores including 6-0 guard Kateri Stone, 5-10 guard Sara Ross and 6-1 guard Kelly Karlis, who was penciled in as a starter before an injury sidelined her.
College coaches will be watching closely the development of Young’s 6-6 sophomore center Khaalia Hillsman, but the talent in the sophomore class is not limited to the city.
Fenwick’s East Suburban Catholic Conference rival, Marian Catholic, also has one of the top sophomores around in 5-9 guard Ashton Millender. Millender scored 24 points in last weekend’s win at Fenwick after scoring 23 points a few days earlier against Nazareth.
“I love her,” Marian Catholic coach Annie Byrne said. “I love her work ethic, I love her determination, and I love her as a person. The reason she’s able to perform at the level she’s performing is because of the work that she puts in.
“There’s never a practice where she comes in and I have to tell her, ‘Let’s go hard, c’mon, work hard,” Byrne added.