Hinsdale South girls basketball preview

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Coach Jen Belmonte

Belmonte, a former Hinsdale South player, will coach for the first time without four-year standout Toni Romiti, who graduated after setting school records for points in a game (40) and 3-pointers in a game (10). The guard ended her four-year career last season with 1,206 points and 214 3-pointers. In addition to Romiti, the Hornets also lost starters Kerry Just and Kristin Dimitrijevic to graduation.

“After graduating three senior starters and winning conference last year, the Hornets will need to come together and mesh as a new group this year,” Belmonte said.

Guard Mary Claire Ladd

Ladd and teammate MacKenzie Kern have played together since the fifth grade with the now-defunct Downers Grove Wolfpack. The seniors both are three-year varsity players for the Hornets and assume bigger roles as captains.

On their own, Ladd and Kern organized team pickup games during the offseason. To mold unity, Ladd and Kern called teammates to play outdoor scrimmages at either Darien’s Community Park or Downers Grove’s McCullough Park.

“We are going for three (conference) titles in a row,” Ladd said. “That is not something you can say every day. We know it means working hard and we’ll work towards it.”

Guard MacKenzie Kern

Carrying on without Romiti will be difficult for the Hornets. Romiti was Hinsdale South’s only major offensive weapon last season and was capable of scoring from all over the court. Now Kern will be counted on to pick up more of the scoring load. She scored a career-high 26 points in a 57-54 win over Proviso West last season in the West Suburban crossover game between first-place teams.

“MacKenzie is a scoring threat while Mary (Ladd) handles the ball and organizes the offense,” Belmonte said.

2012-13 record: 18-8 overall, 11-1 West Suburban Gold

2013 playoffs: Lost to North Lawndale 59-45 in Class 4A regional semifinal

Head coach: Jen Belmonte, fourth season

Projected starting five: G Mary Claire Ladd, sr.; G-F MacKenzie Kern, sr.; F Cassie Jensen, sr.; G Sydney Kopp, so.; G Ali Lokanc, sr.

Game to watch: Willowbrook at Hinsdale South, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 4. The Warriors were the only conference team to defeat the Hornets last season, winning 49-35 in Villa Park. This will be the first meeting between the teams since that conference contest.

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