Will the West Chicago girls’ Varsity basketball team ball to the top?

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This has been one of the strongest seasons in recent history for the girls’ basketball team. (Photo courtesy of Miranda Enochs)

By Carlos Allen

The girls’ Varsity basketball team at WEGO – what some may call a young and inexperienced team – led themselves to a 16-12 record with major wins throughout the winter season before heading into a losing streak in January. Now, they look to pivot in a game against East Aurora tonight at 5 p.m.

Although the Wildcats lost their most recent game against South Elgin, 42-57, they have had an impressive season overall, beating teams such as Bartlett (49-38) and Streamwood (47-15) by considerable points.

The girls claim they were caught by surprise by their success this season.

“My expectations were kinda low because last year we didn’t do so great, and we lost a good player. I didn’t really know who was going to step up this year and make the team great, and in all honesty, I feel like a lot of people stepped up,” said junior guard Sydney Bennema.¬†

“When we played Bartlett for the second time, the energy the girls had was so amazing. They had their moments within the game of trust and believing, but in the end, they pulled it together and proved that they can bring it even with bad calls and miscommunication,” team manager Valerie Harris said.

The team cheers during a recent game; this season has included a number of wins for the girls’ team. (Photo courtesy of Miranda Enochs)

Part of their success stems from Mark Fitzgerald, who is in his fourth season coaching at West Chicago Community High School. During in his 20+ year time in the coaching industry, he has worked with the eighth-grade boys’ team at St. John’s the Baptist School in Winfield (for 10 years), St. Francis’ boys’ freshman team, and the JV boys’ team for six years in Wheaton, as well as other schools in the Illinois area. Now, at WEGO, he is coaching girls for the first time.

Fitzgerald likes to keep the mood on the team light: at the beginning of the season, he told the girls that if they won 20 games, he would get a wildcat tattoo, and with just 4 games left, they will have to go all out if Fitzgerald is meant to get tattoed.

“If we work hard, and work together, we can definitely do it,” said Bennema.

While all of the Wildcats have had a powerful season, sophomore Jasmyn Trigueros is an all-conference guard on pace to reach 1000 career points.

However, with losses in these most recent weeks, the Wildcats’ bid for placement at Regionals remains uncertain. The girls’ team was defeated by Glenbard South 52-40 on Jan. 20, and Glenbard East 44-25 on Jan. 26.

 

The girls huddle together before a game. Many of the players are new to the team this year, and so coming together as a group has been an important focus. (Photo courtesy of Miranda Enochs)

“Being such a young team, we have no seniors, and it took us a while to get in the rhythm of things,” said Bennema.

Bennema explained that being a smaller team, height-wise has presented a major adversity that the Wildcats have struggled to overcome.

“We are a very short team, and it was definitely difficult playing teams that have girls who are six-two. We’ve just had to realize that we are short, and we use speed to our potential, we try to fast break as much as possible against these tall teams,” said Bennema.

Nonetheless, the players and coach believe that team chemistry is a “very big part of a team” sophomore guard Abby Del Preto said.

“Team chemistry really help[s] teams with lower talent, and really hurt[s] teams with very good talent,” said Fitzgerald.

Throughout the season the team had some ups and downs, including squabbles and “criticism from each other,” according to Del Preto.

However, the team believes it is in a good position before tonight’s game.

“We have gotten better throughout the season, and are still working on it to this day. We have overcome this by communicating more positively and talking to each other before games about how we are going to approach a game with a better attitude and confidence in each other,” said Del Preto.