My first experience at the IHSA Girls Basketball State Series was memorable in a few ways, even if the 13-hour day is something of a blur — even half a week after the fact.
After covering each title game, writing recaps of 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A creating a 55-photo gallery and thinking everything over, here are some general thoughts following the first state championship series games held since March 2020.
Quincy Notre Dame’s Abbey Schreacke posted the best finals performance of Saturday, and one of the best 2A title game performances ever, setting a record with 35 points in the 63-56 win over Winnebago. She added 11 rebounds and was 14-of-14 at the charity stripe, carrying her team offensively in the first half when Winnebago jumped out to the early lead.
Taylor Burcham and the Galena 1-3-1 zone defense left an imprint on my mind for how they made Brimfield struggle offensively more than any opponent in the state this year. Burcham scored 15 points, tallied five steals and helped hold Brimfield to two points in the first quarter and three in the third. Burcham manned the top of the confounding Pirates zone that had shut down Serena pretty much entirely in the semifinals.
The Pirates forced 22 turnovers in the title game and 18 in the semis as Serena scored just one point in the first half as Galena rolled to the final. Galena held Brimfield to just 32 points, falling by one.
Stevenson senior guard Ava Bardic scored 13 in the 4A final win over Barrington after scoring 16 in the semifinal win over Benet. The senior is the school’s all-time leading three-point shooter. She dealt with a late-season concussion while helping pulling out a state title.
Seniors Jaclyn Fabry and Sophie Bedell both made crucial plays down the stretch of Brimfield’s 1A title game win over Galena. The stats won’t blow you away, but Fabry had five points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals, while Bedell had six points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Both made crucial plays as Brimfield erased a 22-12 third-quarter deficit.
Carmel Catholic’s Mia Gillis had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists as a critical figure in the Corsairs win over Nazareth Academy. Winnebago senior and future Wisconsin-Whitewater hooper Renee Rittmeyer scored 16 and had five rebounds in a losing effort to Quincy Notre Dame.
Support independent, Illinois high school basketball coverage: https://t.co/831PudtMLJ— Illinois High School Hoops (@ILL_HS_Hoops) March 6, 2022
Of the winning teams, Quincy Notre Dame is the most likely to stand a chance repeating as state champions, with IBCA all-staters Schreacke and Blair Eftink both returning as seniors next year. Of the other schools in the state final four, others that should stand a good chance to return, include a young Fieldcrest team coming off its best season in school history. Junior Ashlyn May is back, though the Knights will have to have someone step up after losing IBCA all-stater Ella Goodrich.
It would not surprise me in the least if Nazareth Academy found itself in a state championship game next year, even losing someone as steady and reliable as Caroline Workman. Amalia Dray and Danielle Scully were both IBCA all-staters and Grace Carstensen could be one of the best three-point shooters in the state. She knocked down six triples in a semis win over Morton.
Bolingbrook loses a lot (See: Kennedi Perkins and several other seniors), but with Tahj-Monet Bloom leading the frontcourt and Angelina Smith controlling the backcourt, the Raiders will still be extremely dangerous. Barrington, which defeated Bolingbrook in the semis, loses valuable seniors but still returns one of the state’s best cores in IBCA first-team all-state guard Sophie Swanson (2023), Molly O’Riordan (2024) and Gwen Adler (2024).
Sandburg junior Josie Canellis experienced a memorable cap to her season*, representing her team at the IHSA three-point Showdown Saturday morning, winning the four-player final between the winners of each class.
Canellis, from 4A, made 13-of-15 shots in the final round to defeat the other winners: Woodlawn sophomore Jase Burkett in 1A, sophomore Xamiya Walton of Butler College Prep in 2A and Sycamore senior Faith Feuerbach in 3A.
Josie Canellis (@CanellisJosie) is the best 3 Pointer Shooter in the state of Illinois!!!!! Queen of the Hill!!! She hit 13/15 to win!! Congratulations!!! Amazing!! @SandburgHS @EaglesAthletics pic.twitter.com/SS1EPVmoCX— Carl Sandburg Girls Basketball Program (@CSEaglesHoops) March 5, 2022
Burkett was a bit fatigued by the process of going to the competition, but settled into her element in the shooting portion.
“It was kind of stressful trying to get everything ready, then the long drive, staying in the hotel, getting up early in the morning,” Burkett said.
Burkett made 11 thee-pointers to win the 1A title, then made 10 in the finals between the winners of all four classes.
“I was not nervous at all,” she said. “I was just out there to have fun. I wasn’t really worrying about winning, I was just out there to have fun.”
🏀3⃣🏀 #IHSA THREE-POINT SHOWDOWN— IHSA State (@IHSAState) March 5, 2022
🥇Jase Burkett, Woodlawn (11)
🥈Megan Houlihan,Tri-County (6)
🥉 Regan Stewart, Woodlands Academy (5)
🥉 Shamiyah Godfrey, Orr (5)
Congratulations to all the qualifiers & to 1A Champion Jase Burkett from Woodlawn HS!!! pic.twitter.com/dlxFWVdQLe
*Corrected to reflect Canellis is a junior, not a senior.