By Kaleb Carter
The girls basketball season has been over for a while. With some time removed from the season, I wanted to share final thoughts on the great basketball I watched. I created a list of superlatives to do just that.
I witnessed 38 girls basketball games this season and this list is specific to players and teams I saw in person. Most of what I was able to get to was weekend invites, as it was the best way to see as many teams as possible. It’s a Chicagoland-heavy list, but that was the bulk of the players and teams I watched this season.
Simone Sawyer posted 35 and 31 points, respectively, against Chicago’s top two teams (Kenwood and Whitney Young), as well as 26 in a state championship win over Barrington. Sawyer never shied away from big moments. Even with a less robust average stat line than many of the state’s better players, Sawyer was considered heavily for 4A player of the year.
Katy Eidle of Hersey looked like she was capable of anything with the ball in her hands, and had to handle a great deal of responsibility after the injury sustained to teammate Meghan Mrowicki. She led her team to a 27-5 overall, 9-1 record in MSL East — one of the best conferences in the state.
Deerfield’s high-octane, guard-oriented attack made every game they were in fun to watch, regardless of opponent.
Galena’ 1-3-1 zone look in the state title game almost brought them a state title, as Brimfield had scored just 12 points well into the third quarter. But Brimfield made a run and prove its might. I also watched a stream of the state semis where Galena held Serena to one point in the first half against Serena.
Pirates’ 1-3-1 has Brimfield completely locked down. A couple shots have rimmed out too. Galena with a 7-0 advantage in the third and leads 21-11.— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) March 5, 2022
As far as players who helped keep their teams together, the following caught my eye for their less-noticed contributions:
Downes is an unheralded player but boy do I really love her game and what she brings to this team.— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) February 23, 2022
Kenwood’s Brianna McDaniel has a game that won’t take a backseat to anyone. She is always in attack mode and always getting to the rim. Not that she can’t shoot, her complete offensive package makes her unlike anyone I saw this year, even coming off an ACL tear.
Brianna McDaniel, the state's top-ranked 2022 girl, commits to Texas A&M.— Illinois High School Hoops (@ILL_HS_Hoops) August 26, 2021
“Her passion and her love for the game have never waned. [She has] the tenacity and the toughness to grind through the good days and the bad days.”@Kaleb_M_Carter with the story: https://t.co/zMatSJ7Ida
It’s between a 50-21 Nazareth win over Sandburg thanks to the Roadrunners’ stifling defense, and a 64-13 Carmel Catholic win over Grayslake North.
Carmel Catholic leads Grayslake North 37-4 at half.— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) November 16, 2021
In the other gym, Grant leads Highland Park 21-13. Here’s Gillis taking advantage of Carmel’s size advantage with some nice high-low action. pic.twitter.com/NPVMAJlz7W
Given the circumstances, Abbey Schreacke’s 2A title game record 35 points, to go with 11 rebounds, was quite the demonstration to see, as Quincy Notre Dame claimed the state title in Redbird Arena.
Others included Lincoln-Way West’s Ava Gugliuzza scoring 40 versus Sycamore and Simone Sawyer’s 35 against Kenwood. I also watched Sophie Swanson explode in wins over Libertyville and a loss to Naperville North.
Geneva’s 59-53 win over Benet at Morton College’s Christmas Tournament featured a hot Vikings squad that handed Benet its second loss of the season and first to an Illinois team. The trio of Leah Palmer, Cassidy Arni and Zosia Wrobel played a whale of a game, and shut down one of the state’s better players in Lenee Beaumont. Meanwhile, Morgan Demos had 25 points as Benet fell just short. It looked like a postseason preview of sorts, before Geneva was upset by St. Charles East.
Also considered Maine South’s CSL championship victory over Deerfield, Stevenson’s win over Kenwood at Trinity High School in the Midwest Hoops Spotlight Shootout, and Whitney Young’s win over Kenwood in the CPL city championship game. Lincoln-Way West’s overtime victory over Sycamore at Trinity is also worth a shoutout.
FINAL - Geneva 59, Benet 53— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) December 30, 2021
Cassidy Arni incredibly clutch down the stretch for the Vikings. Zosia Wrobel was huge throughout. pic.twitter.com/CGOpHWWc8Q
Lake Zurich gets a shoutout from me for playing an extremely enjoyable brand of basketball, not because it’s high-octane and explosive, but because of its balanced, fundamentally-focused ways.
Mother McAuley, Resurrection, Amundsen, Naperville North, Geneva, Batavia, Whitney Young, Stevenson.
Stevenson versus Kenwood at the Midwest Hoops Spotlight Classic, as previously mentioned, was a blast. In addition to the families and fans in attendance, college coaches and those just curious about the matchups and buzz on the floor made it a wild evening at Trinity’s gym in River Forest.
1A: Amiah Hargrove, Christopher (2024); Alayna Kraus, Okawville (2024); Grace Nelson, Altamont (2024); Abby Compton, Goreville (2024); Klare Flynn, Brown County (2023); Grace Furlong, Galena (2025); Sophia Hoffman, Carlyle (2025); Sydney Richards, Neoga, (2023).
2A: Abbey Schreacke, Quincy Notre Dame (2023); Xamiya Walton, Butler College Prep (2024); Ellie Cahill, Eureka (2023); Amayah Doyle, Carterville (2024); Ensley Tedeschi, Benton (2023); Megen Senaj, Latin, (2023).
3A: Kloe Froebe, Lincoln (2024); Janae Kent, Oak Forest (2023); Jordan Wood, Carmel Catholic (2023); Claire McDougall, Washington (2023); Mya Wardle, Peoria Notre Dame (2024); Aaliyah Guyton, Peoria (2024); Amalia Dray, Nazareth (2024); Evyn Carrier, Sycamore (2023).
4A: Lenee Beaumont, Benet (2023); Skylar Jones, Whitney Young (2023); Destiny Jackson, Whitney Young (2025); Alyssa Latham, Homewood-Flossmoor (2023); Sophie Swanson, Barrington (2023); Katy Eidle, Hersey, (2023); Tahj-Monet Bloom (2024); Lisa Thompson, Joliet West (2023); Emily Fisher, Libertyville (2023).