Athlete of the Week
Cary-Grove, sr., forward
Olivia Jakubicek played well while helping the Trojans win the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division title with a game-high 21 points, including five in overtime Saturday against Huntley. The 5-foot-10 senior finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in C-G’s 55-25 win Tuesday against Dundee-Crown.
C-G’s defense delivers: Five years ago, Cary-Grove assistant coach Andy Donaldson was presented with an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
Donaldson joined the Trojans’ varsity girls basketball staff and immediately was tasked to coach C-G’s defense. On the heels of the Trojans’ comeback win Saturday against Huntley, coach Rod Saffert credited Donaldson for the work on the defensive end. Defensively, the Trojans rely on a lockdown, hands-in-your-face defense while also utilizing traps and full court presses when needed.
“Cary-Grove’s girls program, they’ve had a history of always being pretty good,” Donaldson said. “From coach [Bruce] Kay to [Jim] Altendorf to Saffert and coach [Otto], they’ve always had a tough, man-to-man pressure defensive style. I bought into it. The girls have bought into it. They make it work when they buy into it.
“I expect a lot of them – [Saffert] and I both do – and they always live up to those expectations.”
Donaldson deflected any credit for C-G’s defensive performances to the players, but Saffert lauded Donaldson’s ability to get C-G to play defense consistently and intensely. Donaldson is also responsible for subbing players in and out of the game leaving Saffert to determine what to call offensively based on who’s on the floor.
“He deserves a ton of credit,” Saffert said. “He’s young, energetic. It’s been a great combination, and I love the guy to death.
“If you play defense, you’re never out of a game.”
Tough week: Huntley didn’t receive any favors regarding Tuesday’s playoff opener.
The Red Raiders, seeded third in the Belvidere North Regional despite a 21-5 record and second-place finish in the FVC Valley, play No. 2 DeKalb in the regional semifinal. DeKalb ended Huntley’s season last year in the regional final.
Huntley won’t have a ton of time to prepare either. The Red Raiders face Grayslake Central on Friday as part of the crossover games against each division’s equal finisher.
Twenty-win teams: With conference play complete, the FVC Valley boasts three teams – Cary-Grove, Huntley and Crystal Lake South – that have won at least 20 games this season.
Prairie Ridge isn’t far behind with 17 wins and an above .500 record in division play.
Of those four teams, however, all but Huntley are stuck in the same regional, leaving at least one without a shot at a regional title.
Games to watch
Grayslake North at Cary-Grove
7 p.m. Friday
The Knights and Trojans, the FVC Fox and Valley champions, respectively, meet in the unofficial crossover title game. This is the first meeting between C-G and Grayslake North since 2008.
The Class 3A and 4A regionals kick off Monday with regional quarterfinals and matchups featuring Dundee-Crown vs. Jacobs, McHenry vs. Crystal Lake Central and Woodstock vs. Marengo.
– Meghan Montemurro