Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 1

By Kaleb Carter

Each week, I’ll be highlighting the best team and individual performances from around the state that stood out in girls basketball. It could be a state record, an amazing highlight or anything in between. Get in touch to submit a girls team or player at any point during the 2021-22 season.

Notable Week 1 Team Performances

Spotlight on O’Fallon

With one of the biggest wins of the young season, O’Fallon proved that it will be a force to be reckoned with in southern Illinois basketball, beating Whitney Young 56-54.

The Panthers also scored a 57-46 victory over MacArthur.

Coach Nick Knolhoff didn’t know quite how good his young team would be after losing three seniors from last season’s 13-2 squad, but the Panthers delivered in Week 1.

“I didn’t quite have an expectation coming into this season,” Knolhoff said. “I knew we’d be young and inexperienced, but I knew we had  a lot of talent. The COVID year, we had a very good incoming freshman class that didn’t get to really develop or excel in a normal (four-month season), so I am starting a sophomore and I have three sophomores who are giving me very good varsity minutes off the bench.”

Leading the way for the Panthers this week were juniors Simone Dowell and Laylah Jackson, the latter a Belleville East transfer who came to the school wanting play with her cousin, Dowell. Dowell had the game-winning bucket for the Panthers with under two seconds to go versus Whitney Young. Dowell holds scholarship offers from Saint Louis, Missouri State, Illinois State and others. 

The Panthers have also gotten 10 points from sophomore D’Myjah Bolds in each of her first two varsity games. 

“We have size, we have shooters, and we have blockers and we have great defenders,” Knolhoff said. “I pretty much go 9 or 10 girls deep off the bench.”

Added Knolhoff, “This season we have a very, very good chance to go really far.”

Edwardsville

A long postseason volleyball for senior Sydney Harris and others didn’t hinder a loaded Edwardsville team to start the season.

The Tigers knocked off Whitney Young 47-45 thanks to two Macy Silvey free throws with 2.8 seconds to go. Harris scored 21 points in the win.

St. Joseph-Ogden

The week after three Spartans signed NLIs to play college basketball (Taylor Wells: Mount Mercy; Payton Jacob: Illinois Wesleyan; Ella Armstrong: Truman State), the Spartans went 3-0 and defeated Centennial 54-26 to win the Danville Turkey Tournament.

Fieldcrest

Fieldcrest won the Integrated Seed Solutions Tournament with a 22-point performance from junior Ashlyn May in a 60-50 win over Serena in the final. Stood 4-0 after a week of play.

Dixon

Dixon won the Oregon Thanksgiving Invitational, defeating Rockford Christian 37-32 to finish a 4-0 week.

Monmouth-Roseville

Won the ROWVA/Williamsfield-Ridgewood Tournament by defeating Abingdon 46-31 in the title game. The Titans also defeated West Central (46-33), Galva (52-28) and ROWVA (50-44). Junior Mattie Gillen scored 28 in the ROWVA win.

Mahomet-Seymour

Took first at the Prairie Central Turkey Tourney with a 69-54 win over Eureka. Also defeated Pontiac (53-26), Prairie Central (47-24) and Illinois Valley Central (55-25).

Coal City

Won the Comet Classic, defeating Reed-Custer 44-37 in the championship game. Also earned wins over Gardner-South Wilmington (40-15), Grant Park (38-34) and Wilmington (42-29).

Putnam County

Went 4-0 in the Princeton Holiday Tournament. Won games over Bureau Valley (40-21), Midland (53-32), Henry (40-33 in overtime) and Princeton (36-21). Sophomore Ava Hatton led the way for the Panthers with games of 20, 19 and 17 points.

Havana

Won the Macomb Tournament Championship, 53-30 over Alleman. Taryn Wickman and Kaity Robinson were all-tournament selections as Havana went 4-0.

Notable Week 1 Team Performances​

Mallory Cyrulik, Clinton, Sr.

Scored 37 and grabbed 23 rebounds in a 66-61 win over Olympia.

Alyssa Lewis, Alton, So.

Averaged 17.7 points, 6 steals and 6.3 assists per game over three games, leading the Redbirds to a home tournament title. The sophomore was named tournament MVP.

Whitney Dunn, Kenwood, Sr.

Scored 26 in the final game of Kenwood’s tip-off tournament to lead her team to a win over Butler College Prep. Dunn also scored her 1,000th career point. Recently signed her NLI with Loyola.

Xamiya Walton, Butler College Prep, So.

In a 70-38 win over Hyde Park, finished with 29 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

In a 66-12 win over Lindblom posted 24 points, 3 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 steals.

Had 27 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 steals in 82-15 win over DRW.

Totaled 22 points, 5 assists, 5 steals, 2 rebounds in 72-18 win versus Chicago Vocational.

Janae Kent, Oak Forest, Jr.

Scored 45 and had 14 boards in a 71-62 overtime win over Plainfield North, had 35 points in a 64-51 win over Beecher.

Had 17 points and 7 rebounds in a 60-36 win over Chicago Agriculture.

Put up 19 points, 10-plus boards in a 59-48 win against Andrew.

Lisa Thompson, Joliet West, Jr.

26 points in championship game of Lincoln-Way Central Tournament and earned MVP honors. Scored 21 points in 59-54 win over Lincoln-Way Central. Posted 26 points in 72-48 victory vs. Minooka.

Olivia Durbin, Civic Memorial, Jr.

Scored 34 points and made 10 three-pointers in the first half of a 72-24 win over Mt. Zion. Finished with 42 points and 12 triples.

Sophie Swanson, Barrington, Jr.

Scored 36 points in a 66-31 win over Buffalo Grove. Swanson tied Barrington’s single-game scoring record, set by Taylor Thompson on 1/28/20. 

Lexi Sepulveda, Plainfield East, So.

Sepulveda had 22 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals versus Willowbrook. Added 23 points versus Lockport.

Kiaya Johnson, De La Salle, Fr.

Finished with 24 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists in a loss to Riverside Brookfield, her first varsity game. Johnson also had 19 points in a 49-39 victory versus Hope Academy. 

Ava Gugliuzza, Lincoln-Way West, Jr.

The SIUE women’s basketball commit scored 32 points in an 80-65 win over Moline, knocking down seven three-pointers. Had 23 points in a 46-32 win over Joliet Central and 23 more in a loss to Joliet West.

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