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Team of the Week: Libertyville Girls Basketball

After back-to-back NSC titles, the Wildcats are hopeful for another winning campaign

These seem to be good days for senior Alex Haley. Two years ago, this determined guard broke into the starting lineup of the Libertyville girls basketball team.

On the court, she played on teams that ran up winning streaks of 15, and a year ago, .

The big announcement of Haley's winter season came when she signed to play college basketball next year at Minot University in North Dakota. She went out and celebrated that good news by popping in 25 points this week against Barrington. For that performance, the school named her athlete of the week.

Of course, Haley gets to see some familiar faces in her senior season. Returning seniors include inside threats Nicole Kruckman and Kerry Risley along with guards Eileen Knauff and Molly Moon.

"The seniors were part of a great experience last year and know what it takes to be successful,'' said Libertyville coach Kathie Swanson. “ We are going to look to them to provide leadership and consistency on the court."

The new players on the 2011-12 club include juniors Haley Hoeksel, Dana Kym, Olivia Mayer and Margaret Haws. Rosie Lynch is the lone sophomore.

Quick Start: So far, so good for the new Wildcats team. The first three games produced victories. And winning is what Libertyville has been growing accustomed to the last few years. After Libertyville opened the 2009 season with a 6-4 mark, the Wildcats have gone 51-3. That sounds like the makings of a state power.

The Wildcats did lose a number of key players to graduation. Savannah Trees, Kaca Savatic and Olivia Wilcox combined to help this team succeed the last two years.

"We are still in the process of putting the pieces in place,'' Swanson said. “ And having players learn how to play together. That is especially the case on the offensive end. I've seen glimpses of what they are capable of when we have the ball, but there is still that feeling-out process and getting used to playing with new teammates that puts the offense a little behind at the beginning of the season."

Of course, it helps the offense that Haley is averaging more than 17 points a game to start the season. Risley opened her senior season with a 16-point outing.

The injury bug did bite early as both Moon and Risley were sidelined, but Swanson is hopeful she will see these players on the court soon.

Recap: An old friend helped in the first three games of the season — that is, solid defense. Recall a year ago, the Wildcats held a few teams under 10 points. In the annual Buffalo Grove Bison Thanksgiving Tournament, Libertyville topped Grayslake Central 46-39, host Buffalo Grove 39-33 and Barrington 47-33.

"The kids are working hard in practice to learn our system,'' she said. “ We're slowly beginning to see some of that transfer over to games. I'm excited to see this process continue to build and can't wait to see our defense grow stronger as the season goes along."

After the Bison tourney concludes with games with Maine South and Westinghouse, the Wildcats take on Round Lake next week and Zion-Benton. The Zee-Bees broke Libertyville's 29-game winning streak a year ago and went on to finish second in the state.

Swanson hopes her offense is up to the challenge.

"We have other players also capable of scoring,'' she said. “ Once they learn the system better, I expect more balanced scoring across the board."

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