Ex-area stars play in national semifinal

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Former Hinsdale Central guard Toni Kokenis played in Chicago against DePaul in 2010. Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media.

Stanford isn’t favored to beat No. 1-ranked and undefeated Baylor in the NCAA women’s semifinal Sunday in Denver, but it’s a rare opportunity in the spotlight for former area stars Toni Kokenis from Hinsdale Central and Sarah Boothe from Warren.

The Cardinal duo will take on Baylor (38-0) and slam dunking All-American Brittany Griner. If you haven’t seen the 6-foot-8 Griner play, it’s a treat. Stanford (35-1) plays at 8 p.m. on ESPN. Ironically, Kokenis’ teammate Nnemkadi Ogwumike is considered the projected No. 1 overall pick by the WNBA this spring.

I just returned from Houston on a spring break vacation and the big news in the Houston Chronicle was about the showdown featuring former Houston area prep stars Griner from Aldine Nimitz and the Ogwumike sisters, Nnemkadi and Chiney, from Cypress-Fair.

Kokenis has started 35 of 36 games for Stanford this season in her second consecutive trip to the Women’s Final Four. She leads the Cardinal in assists and steals, ranks second in minutes per game and three-pointers and is third in scoring with 9.5 points per game.

Boothe has played in 22 games off the bench and is averaging 3.0 points.

Kokenis was interviewed after scoring 26 points against Tennessee Dec. 20.

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