Author Archives: Kaleb Carter

Summer Notebook: Highlight Vids, Chi Basketball Academy and Extra Notes

By Kaleb Carter

IT’S BEEN… a few weeks since I’ve dropped my first notebook, let’s get on to some newer happenings.

Since the last edition, I attended 3 events, the Chi Basketball Academy at Whitney Young, Maine West’s Summer League and a shootout at Loyola Academy.

For CBA, a predictable matchup of Kenwood-Whitney Young marked the final on the girls side, but not without Butler College Prep giving the Dolphins a run for their money. The Lynx held a last-second lead in the semis before Young’s Kiaya Johnson netted the winner on a last-second layup.

Oakland commit Sereniti-Roberts-Adams and Yahri Smith’s growth should mean big things for an already loaded team with the starring Walton sisters.

Fast-forward to the final. 

Danielle Brooks showed an expanded game that should grow bigger yet as the Class of 2026 sharpshooting guard gains size. 

Destiny Jackson poured in bucket after bucket, and should probably be considered in the conversation, IF you’re having that conversation like nerds like myself are having, for Gatorade Player of the Year or Ms. Basketball. The offensive development of WY’s bigs will be a big factor in whether the Dolphins can defend their back-to-back City tiles.

But let’s get back on to Kenwood. For a summer game, the Broncos looked quite put-together. Game MVP Ariella Henigan was impossible to keep out of the pain, and can get a dozen free throws a night or more if she wants it. 

Bishop Noll transfer Iceiss Thomas had a big stretch for the Broncos and as athletic wing/guard type she appears to be the type of piece a team needs to make an IHSA state run. 


Hyde Park’s Jazmyne Bynum was smooth in winning the skills competition. Going to see Hyde Park will be a priority for me early in the season.

Loyola Shootout Presents New Looks

DePaul - Hersey

Barrington - Loyola Academy

Prospect - Lane Tech

Maine West Summer Highlights

What Else Is Happening?

Heather Cassady, a Dunlap grad with quite the stretch of success in her collegiate, professional and coaching career, has stepped down after 11 years as the Dunlap coach. Not sure what that means for the coaching situation, but the Eagles…. Still have plenty of talent back with Julia Sollberger to compete in the Mid-Illini. 

I’m curious what Roosevelt’s intent to change from an NAIA institution into a D2 program means. Currently, the programs at that level in Illinois are Quincy, UIS, McKendree and Lewis. Does that cut into anyone’s recruiting range? Does the proliferation of talented Illinois girls mean little difference for that level? 

Recruiting/College Folks 

One transfer I’m excited to see catch on at a new program is Timia Ware at Central Florida. An LSU transfer, Ware had plenty of buzz about her coming out of Whitney Young, and should be in a good spot to thrive quickly in the AAC. 

Lewis University and Bradley have caught my attention with the recent in-state offers they’ve garnered. 

Normal’s Olivia Corson led her team to be one of the last unbeaten teams in the state last season. The 2024 guard has been picking up D2/D3 offers this summer, and joins the likes of Anna Gilbertson (Lake Zurich), Meegan Fahy (Maine South) as others I’ve noticed starting to get notable offers. When Missouri S&T and McKendree start calling, that’s a good sign that players have high-level, bordering D1 potential. 

SIUE also continues to get after in-state talent, offering the likes of Danyella Mporokoso (Waubonsie Valley), Olivia Austin (2024, Nazareth).

Mporokoso (2026) notably picked up offers from Northwestern and DePaul. 

Was happy to read one particular commitment. Ohio University came to Illinois and made a strong move in grabbing up big forward Danielle Scully of Nazareth Academy (2024). Why am I excited for this particular commitment? Yours truly is an Ohio University graduate!

Coach Ed Stritzel told me this about Scully in fall 2021:

“She’s a big kid with a strong body,” Nazareth coach Ed Stritzel said. “She’s got a Division I body already, but she can handle it at guard. The problem other opposing coaches have, they put a big kid on her and she out-skills you. If you put a guard on her, she’s good at going to the post she can finish in the post. She can do so many things.”

Here’s the story I wrote about Scully at that time.

Summer 2023 Girls Notebook: Windmills, Recruiting, & A Plea to The IHSA

Summer 2023 Girls Notebook: Windmills, Recruiting, & A Plea to The IHSA

Heading into anther season of high school hoops, I’m looking to adjust my coverage from what I considered a bit of a monotonous way of aggregating stats and performances with my top performers posts that I discontinued late last year.

I definitely enjoyed highlighting as many girls basketball performers as possible the last few years, and now, heading into what will be my fourth girls hoops season for, I’m trying my hand at another way of covering the girls hoopers. 

My weekly(ish) notebook will be a brief summary of thoughts I’ve been working on in the week (or whatever amount of time), prior, with a goal of putting out consistent content and still highlighting many players and teams, but with a more open-ended way of writing about them. 

I’m a big fan of superlatives just for the sake of recognizing standouts. I’ll be trying out some superlatives through the season because, heck, it’s fun to honor the kiddos! Most of the kids I write about will be in the Chicagoland area, as I’m located in Rogers Park and work in the North Shore, but I’ll be sure each edition of the newsletter to highlight players from all over Illinois.

As much as I’d love to write about every big story, I’m just mostly going to write about what I WANT to write about, simple as that. 

A few notes on recent coaching happenings: 

COACHES: Some of the biggest jobs in the state came open this offseason, as Stevenson’s Ashley Graham stepped down and her spot was filled by Maine South graduate Regan Carmichael. 

Peoria Richwoods coach Todd Hursey resigning means an opening at a program with tremendous history, namely winning a state title under his watch in 2018. The Peoria Journal-Star’s Adam Duvall wrote about Hursey’s departure. 


Metamora is a really good spot for girls hoops, with high potential given their recent success in athletics. Michaela Reedy, an East Peoria graduate who coached most recently at Plainfield North, seems like a great fit.

Hersey replaced retiring coach Mary Fendley with Courtney Ludois, who had most recently been at Fremd as an assistant under Dave Yates. She has prior head coaching experience with Richmond-Burton. Ludois at one point had the national record for 3-point shots made while playing at Hononegah, so perhaps fair to guess that these Huskie teams will be ready to shoot from deep. Fremd has certainly had some great sharpshooters in her 10 or so seasons working with the Vikings. 

On the note of Dave Yates, best wishes to him and his loved ones as he continues his fight against Brain Cancer.


Batavia ran the Windmill City Weekend Shootout and for all sakes and purposes, it looked like it was an extremely well-run event. Though I did not attend it, the following tidbits caught my eye. 

Some eye-opening results from potentially slept-on teams Hyde Park, Phillips, Boylan Catholic and Waubonsie Valley, though it’s summer, so it’s all with a grain of salt.  

Marian Catholic’s Madison Davis (2024) could leap into far more conversations after making a huge leap since the start of the 2022-2023 season

Destiny Jackson should have a truly special season this year. 


Tahj Bloom has been hindered by injury for the better part of two years, so I’ve never seen her play in-person. The Class of 2024 star has been at a different high school each of her three seasons, and I’ve seen some highlights that suggest her injuries are healed quite nicely. It’s hard to duplicate the size and finesse she appears to possess. 

She’ll be joined there by Lake Park grad and DePaul transfer Darrione Rogers. 

Speaking of the Blue Demons, Aneesah Morrow goes from one of the country’s best players at DePaul to the best player on the floor when she joins the defending national champion LSU Tigers. The Tigers are without a doubt the team to beat in college hoops this season. 

DePaul also picked up Angelina Smith (2024) of Bolingbrook, showing the Blue Demons’ continued commitment to recruiting Chicagoland.

Wheaton North’s Claire Hyde always appeared to me to be someone who was a borderline D1 prospect and was probably hindered in her recruitment by how Covid caused college coaches to go after experienced players in the transfer portal at the expense of players who would need a season or two to develop at the highest levels of the sport. But now Morton College has turned yet another player into a D1 product, as Hyde will head to Belmont. Watch out for her there, I think folks in Nashville might just become familiar with her name. 

Xamiya Walton (2024) committed to Northwestern back in mid-April, and I’m certainly not upset with the possibility of seeing her play at Northwestern, as I live in Rogers Park, the Chicago neighborhood adjacent to Evanston. 

Big Lincoln-Way East forward Hayven Smith (2024) committing to Illinois is a big in-state win for the Fighting Illini who are absolutely skyrocketing under Shauna Green.

Jordan Wood going to Duke after decommitting from Michigan State following a coaching change was perhaps the biggest WOW moment in recruiting this offseason.Whitney Young’s Skylar Jones, committed to Arizona after having been committed to Missouri for a hot minute. That’s two absolute stars in Illinois stepping into higher stature programs 

Edwardsville graduate and all-time leading scorer Sydney Harris was the MAC’s Freshman of the Year for Central Michigan this past season, but is gone after a season to play for TCU. Curious if that success translates. Perhaps the southern Illinois native becomes a Big 12 superstar.

Trinity Jones (Naperville Central, 2026) played on the U.S.. U16 girls basketball team in the Americas Championship and racking up offers from the likes of South Carolina, Wisconsin, Penn State, Nebraska and Texas A&M since the start of May she holds plenty of more offers. She scored 19 in a win over Puerto Rico. 

Other Happenin's

While I don’t intend to write too much about transfers, a couple early-summer transfers have shaken the Chicagoland basketball landscape, so it feels necessary to touch on those. 

Deerfield’s Nikki Kerstein (2025) is going to Montini Catholic and Aubrey Galvan (2025) will head to Loyola. Loyola Academy did not have a senior on its roster last year and the guard-oriented team becomes a legit state title threat with a floor general like Galvan at the helm. Wondering already how on-ball off-ball offense will be run between two of the state’s guards with immense tools in Galvan and Paige Engels. 

Even in losing a D1 player in Shannon Blacher (NIU), Kerstein makes Montini Catholic as big a threat as its been since its state-title winning ways under Jason Nichols. And now, to think that that this GCAC matchup will have even more flavor to it this season.

There’s plenty of freshmen to be excited about. Some folks have taken then time to jump in the DMs and say hey, take a look at this star-in-the-making!

One I’m quite curious about  is Aaliyah Flores (2027), who has been playing with St. Laurence this summer. She’s got size, finishes well at the rim, can create open looks from the perimeter and seems quite comfortable against older competition in the highlight clips I’ve seen of hers. 

Schaumburg won 12 consecutive games in the summer last I checked, and I wouldn’t be surprised to be slotting them in my top 25 rankings for the first time at some point this upcoming season. We’ll see how that predictions looks in about *checks notes* 6 months. 


It’s time to preach from my keyboard pulpit. I can GUARANTEE far more athletes in Illinois would get closer attention that their friends, family and fans would love if more statistics were easily accessible. MaxPreps is not the answer. In Iowa, stats for near every sport are mandated to be entered on on Iowa’s state page. I utilized it for every sport when I was a sports reporter in the southwest corner of the state, (back then it was called Quikstats). The IHSA would be doing fans a great (and deserved) service by requiring teams enter their statistics in every available sport to on Illinois’ page. 

Seriously. Look at Iowa’s Bound page. 

Batavia utilized for the shootout, and the information from the games was easily accessible. Scores, pool standings, matchups, etc were readily available. 

Now I know some schools/coaches would decry the mandate to enter that information, talking about time and labor it would take to input stats, but seeing as how Hudl assist is already utilized for such stat-taking, surely schools/programs could find a way to do this. 

And I’m not only coming from this as a media nerd alone. I coach football, as well as track and field. Track and field already has great sites in place with and Milesplit. PLEASE IHSA, get schools on the train. 

Final 2022-2023 Illinois High School Girls Basketball Rankings


1. Nazareth (35-1, 3A Champs)

Olivia Austin took on a unique role in making the Nazareth Roadrunners the No. 1 team in the state of Illinois in the 2022-2023 season. 

While Grace Carstensen was the 1st team all-state performer (AP and IBCA), she was the known commodity. But between a group of seasoned juniors and emerging freshmen  — Stella Sakalas, Lyla Shelton and Jane Manecke could play bigger roles next season as sophomores — Nazareth’s depth is ludicrous. 

With all of that said, Austin was the best kept secret in coach Ed Stritzel’s mind entering the season. 

“I’ve been training a lot with Byron (Xerxes Livsey) and I’ve been doing a lot of things outside practice, working on my free throws… I’ve just been trying to get my touches to improve around the rim and get my shots to start falling.”

Last Saturday in the semis and state final, Austin’s abilities were on full display, with Austin’s impact as big as anyone’s in determining one of the 4 state team champions. 

“Her athleticism is off the charts,” Nazareth Academy coach Ed Stritzel said. “Some people see this big girl and think she’s just an inside post, but she is such a problem. Her speed is ridiculous and now she is starting to clean up her ball-handling.”

Austin scored 23 points with 12 rebounds and 3 assists after a 9-point,12-rebound effort vs. Peoria and her team had a positive +/- of 24 when she was on the floor vs. Peoria. 

“It’s amazing we have complete trust in each other,” Austin said. “That’s want makes our team so strong. If one of us isn’t having the best game the other spick her up and we just everyone, there’s no agendas as coach likes to say. The team goal is most important.”

Nazareth Academy won every game it played against Illinois teams, despite a daunting schedule. 

“Sometimes I think the schedule was too much for a 3A school but I think it paid off tonight,” Stritzel said of the title game win. 

Top returning player should be Austin, but Danielle Scully really showed out at state as well. 

Come the 2023-2024 season, which Austin will play in after two more (expected) high school sports seasons of soccer and volleyball, no one should be caught off guard by the to-be senior post star. 

Best Wins: Fremd, Lincoln, Peoria, Deerfield, Carmel (Twice, held to 40 over 2 wins over Corsairs), Montini, Whitney Young, Benet)

2. O’Fallon (34-4, 4A State champs)

The 4A champions made a magical run through the tournament on the backs of one of the state’s best duos in Shannon Dowell and Jailah Petty. Both made play after play in a tight game with Benet Academy. Ended season on 14-game win streak.

What enabled them to be state champs was the number of athletes able to play critical roles. Between Dowell and Pelly being one of the state’s better duos, 

D’Myjah Bolds (rebounder/rim protector) or Josie Christopher(shooter, hard-nosed defender) Laylah Jackson contributing where needed, senior and future Wester Illinois softball player Malia Robertson providing steady minutes and Haeli Tart (2026) providing a glimpse into the future, this Panthers team provided quite a look of what a well-rounded team could be. 

Best Wins: Benet (title game), Alton (Twice), Peoria, Mater Dei (by 20), Normal, Bolingbrook, Hersey (Semis by 17). 

3. Alton (31-2)

Was playing at the level of a top 3 team in the state all season, only two losses were to eventual state champion O’Fallon on O’Fallon’s floor. Also beat the Panthers twice. 

The Redbirds return much of their talent, and I’m going to say Kiyoko Proctor should be the top returner that people should look out for. 

Best Wins: Mater Dei (Twice), O’Fallon (Twice), Okawville, Vashon (MO.), Hersey.

4. Benet Academy (25-8, 4A State Runner-Up)

The Redwings found the winning formula needed after a season of winning close games against good teams, ultimately beating both Kenwood in the super-sectional game and Geneva in the state semifinals by one possession in games that came down to Redwings points on their respective last positions.  

Leading returner should be Emilia Sularski, but young talent should emerge as well. 

Best Wins: Geneva (Semis), Montini, Kenwood (Quarters), Lake Zurich 

5. Geneva (31-4, 3rd Place in 4A)

As team-oriented as team-oriented comes.
Plenty of players that can be the leading scorer of the star of the night any given nights. Going 14-0 in the DuKane is no joke.

Leading returner should be Leah Palmer. 

Best wins: Hersey (3rd Place), Fremd (Morton College Xmas), Lake Zurich, Deerfield.

6. Lincoln (36-1, 3A Runner-Up)

Went into state title game with Nazareth undefeated. Kloe Froebe unquestionably one of best players in state and returns next year along with four other Class of 2024 Railsplitters who started in championship game. 

Best Wins: Deerfield, Peoria, Mahomet-Seymour (Twice), Byron (beat state finalist in 2A by 44). 


7. Hersey (28-10, 4th Place in 4A)

Got red-hot at the end of coach Mary Fendley’s tenure. Katy Eidle was one of best players in state for the last few years. 

Best returner should be Annika Manthy or Kiki Craft.

Best Wins: Fremd, Maine South (twice), Libertyville, (Twice) Benet Academy.

8. Fremd (30-3)

Was one of top teams in state all season, dropped to a red-hot Hersey squad in the postseason mater beating them 2 weeks prior.

Best returner should be 4A all-state performer Ella Todd.

Best Wins: Lake Zurich (Twice), Hersey (MSL Title Game), Maine South, Montini, Benet Academy, Kenwood, Barrington (Twice), Geneva)

9. Kenwood (30-5)

Made CPL title game for second straight year, was one possession away from making 4A state. Danielle Brooks or Arielle Henigan should be top perfomrer. Just a freshman, Brooks was ready for the big moments. 

Best Wins: Whitney Young (Twice, also lost to them once), Saint Ignatius (by 32), Lafayette (LA)

10. Whitney Young (26-6)

Won city championship for second consecutive year, Skylar Jones was one of state’s top players. 

Leading returner Destiny Jackson may be the city of Chicago’s best player entering next season. 

Best Wins: Lyons (Twice), York,Hersey, Kenwood (Lost Twice)

11. Okawville  (34-4, 1A State Champs)

Surely has one of the best resumes of any 1A team in recent memory, having beaten 2 state champs. How often can you say a team from the smallest class has beaten the largest class state championship?

Dominated at 1A state semis and title game. I don’t know that I’d pick them to beat some f theta’s they’re in front of, but they beat some of the best teams in the state. That speaks volumes any which way you cut it.

Best Wins: O’Fallon, Mater Dei (Twice), Galena, Christopher.

12. Bolingbrook (27-4)

Wasn’t as tested by in-state foes as some others near the top, but still among the state’s best after owning the south suburbs.

Leading returner Angelina Smith should be one of the top guards in the state. 

Best wins: Lincoln-Way West (Twice), Edison Academy (MI), Mother McAuley, Lincoln-Way Central, Homewood-Fossmoor (Twice, lost to them once). 

13. Peoria (29-4, 3rd Place in 3A)

Aaliyah Guyton’s the leading returner. Especially excited to see what college she chooses.

Best Wins: Dunlap (Three times), Peoria Notre Dame (twice), Normal, Washington, Marian Catholic, Deerfield. 

14. Deerfield (29-7)

Take your pick, Aubrey Galvan and Nikki Kerstein will provide Deerfield one of the best backcourts in the state next year after the Warriors made a historic run to state for their program.

Best Wins: Montini, Homewood-Flossmoor, Hersey, Mother McAuley, Maine South

15. Maine South (26-7)

Huge win streak in the thick of its schedule. Young team that grew immensely. Meegan Fahy, Ava Blagojevich already one of state’s better guard duos and both return.

Best Wins: Glenbrook South (Twice), Libertyville, Barrington, Carmel, Loyola Academy. 

16. Libertyville (29-5)

Maybe best player in school history, Emily Fisher, moves on to Maryland. 

Kate Rule will be leading returner by Talya Tillman should take a big step up. 

Best Wins: Deerfield (by 28), Glenbrook South, Loyola Academy, Lake Zurich, Carmel.

17. Loyola Academy (28-7)

Paige Engels was one of the most enjoyable players I watched this year and some super frosh players will had into sophomore year ready to make a potential state run. 

Best wins: Montini (Twice), Kenwood, York.

18. Mater Dei (27-7, 2A state champs)

Pulled out close win after close win in the postseason before thrashing a ver strong Byron team in the finals. 

Will have top 10 potential with returning talent for next year, including the star of the 2A state tourney, Alyssa Koerkenmeier.

Best Wins: Paris, Quincy Notre Dame, Byron, Freeburg.

19. Quincy Notre Dame (36-2, 3rd Place in 2A)

Had a 28-game win streak going into the third-place game and their loss to Mater Dei was their lone loss to an Illinois team this year. 

Sage Stratton should be top returner.

Best wins: Mater Dei, Okawville, Butler College Prep (Twice), Deer Creek-Mackinaw (by 32). 

20. Lyons (28-5)

Ally Cesarini had a great season as Lyons went undefeated in WSC. Nora Ezike (2025) should open the eyes next year of those who don’t know her yet. 

Best Wins: Saint Ignatius, York (Twice), Trinity, Mother McAuley.

21. York (25-7) 

Mariann Blass one of the best 3 and D players I saw. 

Best Wins: Maine South (to end long Hawks win streak), Neuqua Valley. 

Stella Kohl should be top returner. 

22. Normal (31-4) 

Olivia Corson was great, and she’s back for a team that appeared pretty balanced overall.

Best Wins: Washington (Twice), Carmel.

23. Montini (27-7)

Best Wins: Deerfield, Mother McAuley, Trinity (Twice), Lyons, Geneva, Saint Ignatius. 

24. Carmel (24-9)

Scored some really nice wins over the best 4A ha to offer. Jordan Wood was one of 3A’s best. 

Best Wins: Benet Academy, Hersey, Cardinal Ritter College Prep(MO.)

25. Lake Zurich (25-8)

Was a top 10 team in the state before injuries to Baylie Parks and Avery Cooper. Will return a young team next year that could be just as good. 

Best Wins: Barrington, York, Deerfield, Libertyville, Stevenson (Twice)

Nazareth Seals The Deal, Austin Soars In 3A Title Game

NORMAL – Olivia Austin shined bright, motivated by a state championship loss last year, and led Nazareth Academy to a 63-52 Class 3A title game win Saturday evening over unbeaten Lincoln.  Austin scored 23 with 12 rebounds and 3 assists.

Coming off an IHSA state finals record of 45 points In the semis, Lincoln’s Kloe Froebe scored 19, held in-check by the attention of multiple Roadrunners at all times.

The Roadrunners ran multiple players at Froebe every time she touched the ball, just to get it away from her. 

Austin and Danielle Scully were bullies in the post, time and again forcing their ways inside to assert their will against the smaller Railsplitters. Mary Bridget Wilson and Grace Carstensen sank some time 3-pointers and the Roadrunners raced along all night long to claim the program’s first girls state basketball championship.

Froebe was active early, but the Roadrunners dictated the pace and shape of the game. 

Nazareth Academy finished 35-1, Lincoln went 36-1. 

Numbers Of Note

Enrollment: Lincoln 810, Nazareth 754

-Nazareth Academy outscored Lincoln 18-9 in the third quarter after leading by 6 at half. 

-Both teams recorded 7 assists apiece in the first half, moving the ball well, leading to 50+ percent shooting over the first two quarters for both teams. 

-The Roadrunners assisted on 14 of 24 buckets and made 24 of 41 shotsx (58.5%).

-Bridget Wilson and Carsten each scored 11 and Amalia Dray added 10.

-Bridget Wilson, Austin, Carstensen and Dray each contributed 3 assists.

-Becca Heitzig scored 12 and Taryn Stolzenberg added 9 (3 3’s).

-Froebe recorded 7 assists, Heitzig had 4 more.

-All 5 of the Railsplitter starters were juniors.

What Did They Say? 

“We understood that we had the size advantage and we wanted to really capitalize off that, especially going in and out, because we knew they’d collapse on that,” – Olivia Austin

“We’ve been playing since fifth grade, a lot of us, so we’ve been able to build a lot of chemistry between us, Grace too,” – Austin

“Nothing (changed) schematically, we did the some thing but I just told the girls, let’s go, let’s put an end this,” – Nazareth coach Ed Stritzel about halftime message

“We thought ended last year with a bitter taste in our mouths. I told them we had a great chance to win it this year, but we’re not going to let that get to us,” -Stritzel

“This is an amazing, amazing defensive effort.” – Stritzel

“I think Grace (Carstensen) really turned into a good captain this year,” – Mary Bridget Wilson

“One of the most devastating moments of my basketball career,” -Grace Carstensen said of last year’s title game loss

“We all just wanted to come back here and seal the deal,” Carstensen

“We were screaming to ‘squeeze her’ (Froebe) is what we call it, basically to get the ball out of the main girls’ hands,” -Danielle Scully

”I think I have the best teammates in the state of Illinois,” – Kloe Froebe

“They sure played hard in the last few minutes of the game, the last quarter, the last quarter and a half, it just didn’t go our way, shots didn’t fall and that’s the game,” – Lincoln coach Taylor Rohrer

First Quarter 

Froebe assisted or scored to contribute to Lincoln’s first 11 points.

Olivia Austin put Nazareth up 10-9 with an and-1 bucket and free throw. 

Nazareth played the high-low game excellently with Danielle Scully, Olivia Austin and Amalia Dray. 

Dray hit a corner 3-pointer that gave Nazareth a 15-11 lead. 

Second Quarter 

Carstensen knocked down consecutive 3-pointers in the second quarter, while Austin and Scully held down the paint for the Roadrunners on their way to a 31-25 halftime lead. 

Third Quarter 

In a relatively short stretch, Carstensen and Mary Bridget Wilson sank triples, then Amalia Dray finished a tough and-1 off a Scully assist. Then Austin dropped in a layup off a Lincoln turnover for a 42-25 Nazareth Academy lead. Dray scored in transition for a 13-2 Roadrunners’ run out of the half before the Railsplitters’ Becca Heitzig stopped the bleeding momentarily. 

The Roadrunners haggled Froebe defensively and got out in transition. Nazareth led 49-35 after 3. 

Fourth Quarter 

Lincoln pulled within 12 on a Heitzig jumper, only for Austin to score shortly following that to make it 53-39 Nazareth. 

Nazareth was doing such a good job of dictating a game, that it was hard to string together consecutive possessions where Froebe had the ball as a threat to score. 

Taryn Stolzenburg hit a pair of 3-pointers to pull Lincoln within 9 with under 2 minutes to go, but it didn’t get closer than that.

Koerkenmeier Triple-Double Leads Mater Dei to 2A Championship

NORMAL — Mater Dei’s win over Quincy Notre Dame to gain entry to the state title game was a strong enough statement as to its likely superiority over the rest of Class 2A.

Saturday, the Knights were in complete control though most of their 62-46 state title game win over Byron, thanks largely to sophomore Alyssa Koerkenmeier’s triple-double. 

The Tigers were able to pull it within 6 points before halftime, but Mater Dei dominated the third quarter.

When the Tigers got back within 10 points in the fourth, Koerkenmeier appropriately rejected a Byron shot, her 10th block of the contest to chalk up the triple-double.  She had 23 points, 14 rebounds.

After utilizing a 1-2-2 zone at times, Mater Dei coach Craig Zurliene said that his team switched into a matchup-zone and allowed Koerkenmeier to rest in the paint and act as a deterrent around the rim. 

Mater Dei finished 27-7 as the state champs. Byron finished 34-4. 

Numbers of Note

-Mater Dei enrollment 393, Byron enrollment 456

-Mater Dei started Players 6-5, 5-11, 6-0, and 5-10.  That helped the Knights get to 15 blocks. 

Koerkenmeier had 16 points and 9 rebounds in the first half alone. 

-The Knights had 20 points in the paint in the first half. 

-Amelia Beer had 3 of Mater Dei’s 6 first-half assists. The Tigers also had 6 assists in the first half. Beer had a game-high 7 assists to go with 13 points and 8 rebounds.

-Macy Groharing led Byron with 14, Ava Kultgen had 12 and Karsyn Bielskis added 10.

What Did They Say? 

“We weren’t expected to get this far, but we knew whatever we needed to do we could do it together,” Amelia Beer

“When I get the ball, I want to score. Playing in this arena, on this stage is a very cool expenrience. There’s so much energy I just want to go straight to then basket,” -Alyssa Koerkenmeier 

“If I can get a hand on the ball and affect their shot, it’s a game changer. It gets everyone in the gym going,” – Koerkenmeier

“She’s (Koerkenmeier) maturing both physically and mentally at an exponential rate, and it showed,” coach Craig Zurliene

“I hit a few 3’s, they weren’t falling in warmups, but I’m glad they fell today,” – Julia Korte

“It’s an awesome experience and an honor to walk off the floor a state champion,” Madison Eversgerd

“It was super exciting experience, especially with these seniors being my last time playing with them,” – Macy Groharing

“I have to give her (Koerkenmeier) credit because she really worked hard down there and she did a nice job,” Ava Kultgen

“We told them in the locker room that this is an experience you’ll remember for a lifetime,” – Eric Yerly

First Quarter 

Mater Dei’s defense and athleticism irked Byron in the early going, and some easy buckets lead to a 16-8 lead. Having a 6-5 sophomore post player in Alyssa Koerkenmeier will do that for you. 

Mater Dei led 16-8 after a quarter. 

Second Quarter 

Avery Trame finished a tough, falling and-1 bucket fora 20-8 Knights lead just over a minute into the period.

All-stater Ava Kultgen grabbed her own offensive rebound, kicked out to freshman Macy Groharing n what resulted in the freshman’s second 3-pointer of the quarter. That made it 25-16. 

Mater Dei continued to go high-low with pin-point passing to Koerkenmeier for easy buckets. 

The Knights held a 30-24 lead at half. 

Third Quarter 

Beer drove for a hanging jumper in the lane, then Koerkenmeier rejected a shot on the other end for a strong start to the second half. 

Koerkenmeer’s 6th block of the game led to a Julia Korte layup and a 34-24 Mater Dei advantage. 

Beer, a freshman, showed off in the second with heads up passes and strong shot choices in and around the paint while navigating Byron’s zone defense. 

Maris Zurliene’s 3-pointer from a  Beer pass put Mater Dei up 46-30 with just under 3 minutes left in the third. 

Fourth Quarter 

The Knights were in control. 

Macy Groharing’s 3-pointer with 3:55 left made it 56-41, but the Tigers were too far removed from making it competitive. 

Byron cut to 12, then 10 when Karsyn Bielskis knocked down 2 tree throws with a little less than 3 minutes left. 

Madison Eversgerd had the honor of dribbling the clock out in the final moments with four other seniors on the floor. 

Kraus And Crew Bring Okawville State Title

NORMAL — Let there be no doubt that the dominant Okawville Rockets capped one of the more impressive seasons in Class 1A in recent years with a 56-35 state championship game victory over Christopher Bearcats Saturday.

Alayna Kraus scored 20+ (21) for the second straight day, asserting herself as arguably the best player in the class, with Bearcat forward Amiah Hargrove (19 points, 8 rebounds), making a claim as well for that distinction. Both play for the Bradley Beal Elite AAU program and are tight friends. 

Okawville finished 34-4, each of their losses coming to substantially larger schools.

Numbers of Note:

-Okawville enrollment 175.5, Christopher enrollment 252

-Megan Rennegarbe scored 17 points on 7 of 8 shooting and had 5 rebounds.

-Okawville shot 11 of 22 in the first half and 23 of 44 (52.3%) for the game. They shot at least 50% in every quarter. 

-The Rockets held the Bearcats to 15 of 41 shooting.

-Okawville’s defense was key, and the Rockets had a 27-22 rebound advantage. 

-Okawville possessed the ball cleanly and turned it over just 5 times. 

-The Rockets scored 36 points in the paint. 

-Makayla Dejear and Jessica Gordon scored 7 points apiece. 

-Briley Rhodes and Madisyn Wienstroer each had 4 assists apiece.

-McKenzie Jackson 7 rebounds for the Bearcats.  

What Did They Say? 

“We saw some people at a restaurant and we said ‘let’s all bring it back to the South,’” 1st-year Okawville coach and alum Haylee Bowers

“Our schedule is definitely a huge part of why we’re here… we played 3A and 4A, the best of the best,” – Bowers

“They had the ambition and the drive to get here and every time  I walked into the locker room, they said ‘coach, we’re ready,’” – Bowers

“Me and Amiah, we’re tight. We play AAU together. We’ve known each other for a long time. We work out together,” – Alayna Kraus

”They’re the best team. (It wasn’t) close, by 21 points. They earned it. They deserved it by far. I’m glad to see two teams from the southern region of the state play in the big game,” Christopher coach Hayden Carter

“It’s not the outcome we wanted but super grateful for the opportunity,” – Amiah Hargrove

“I was so excited to play against her (Kraus) because this was the first time we played against each other in high school,” Hargrove

“The first week we came into practice, we had it in mind, we’re going to (get here),” – Briley Rhodes

“I’m emotional because it’s the last time I’m going to step on the floor with my best friends,” – Rhodes

First Quarter 

Kraus scored 5 of first 8, including a strong take in transition over Hargrove for an 8-5 rockets lead with 2:57 left in the period. 

Coming out of the timeout, Raelyn Obermeier drilled a 3-pointer, which Hargrove answered with an and-1 bucket. 

Okawville led 13-8 after a quarter. 

Second Quarter 

The Bearcats were in full-deny against Kraus, leaving Reagan Obermeier open for her second 3 for a 16-8 Rockets advantage. 

Hargrove answered, as she does frequently, with a bucket on the other end. 

The Rockets got a quick 4-point run from Megan Rennegarbe, who scored in transition for a 22-12 lead with 4:46 lead. Christopher called timeout to stem the tide. Rennegarbe already had 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting at that point. 

Makayla Dejear scored with under 20 seconds remaining with a jumper around the free throw line. Then Kraus, who had scored her last bucket on a pick-pocket steal and layup, went up and over several defenders for a floater at the buzzer, much to the chagrin of the well-traveled Christopher fans who were seeking a charge call. 

Amiah Hargrove picked up 3 fouls in the first half. 

Okawville led 27-20 at the break. 

Third Quarter 

Rennegarbe, already having a great game, benefitted from solid passing to score twice and stretch Okawville’s lead to 40-24. The Rockets lead 44-26 after three quarters. 

Fourth Quarter 

The Rockets maintained control in the fourth.

Deejay knocked down a 3-pointer for only the second Bearcats 3-pointer of the game and Hargrove scored her 19th point, but with Christopher down 16, it was only a matter of time for the clock to go down to zero. 

Briley Rhodes scored her first bucket from the field for an and-1 bucket with 1:10 to go, and before the free throw, coach Haylee Bowers  got her subs in. After making the free throw, Rhodes went to the bench and received a heartfelt embrace from her first-year head coach, an Okawville alum herself. 

Final Regular Season Rankings (Feb. 12) And CPL Title Game Notes 

CHICAGO — Whitney Young controlled most of Saturday’s Chicago Public League City Title game, ultimately prevailing 58-45

The Dolphins went 19 of their  from the free throw line, with Jones sinking 20 of 21 free throws. The senior Missouri commit couldn’t be kept out of the paint, either finishing at the rim or picking up the foul call on her way to a game-high 28 points. It was the second consecutive year that Jones took over at times against Kenwood in the city title game. 

Whitney Young made 30 of 35 free throws. 

“We do know that when we play Kenwood it’s going to a be a lot of aggressiveness. It’s going to be a battle of the boards. And we needed to knockdown our free throws,” Whitney Young coach Krissy Harper said. 

Destiny Jackson had a hot start to the game, making a pair of runners late in the first quarter to help the Dolphins surge ahead early. She got the scoring started in the second, drilling a pull-up 3-pointer to put Whitney Young up 10, scoring 9 of WY’s first 18. The Dolphins led by double-digits the rest of the first half.

 This, a year later after a sluggish shooting performance in last season’s city title game, which she still contributed to largely on the defensive end in that win. 

“I feel way more confident this time than when I played in this environment the first time,” Jackson said. “I feel like that was the difference, just being in my comfort zone.”

Whitney Young led by as much as 17 in the second quarter, aided by a boost from Lily Montalvo and Hailey Hillman. Kiaya Johnson’s defense also led to a few buckets. Hillman and Jones had 7 rebonds apiece.

Ariella Henigan took control at times in the second half  as she and Natasha Barnes willed the Broncos back within 5 points early in the fourth quarter. 

Henigan ended up fouling out with Kenwood down 8 with a few minutes to go. She scored 11, Barnes scored 9, while Sanai Tyler and Jazelle Young contributed 8 apiece. Tyler’s 9 rebounds led all players. 

Neither team were strong shooting on Saturday, going a combined 4 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc, and both teams shot just over 30% from the floor. Whitney Young scored 26 fast break points to Kenwood’s 10.  first 


Week 2

Week 4

Week 5

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

Week 11

1. Nazareth

Beat Stevenson. Grace Carstensen (2023) committed to DePaul and Olivia Austin has been playing better. 

2. Fremd

Defeated Hersey in MSL title game, 28-2 entering postseason. 

3. Alton

29-1. A potential fourth matchup with O’Fallon could be played on Feb. 21 in the sectional semis. 

4. Geneva 

Pulled out a close win over Sycamore. On a 9-game winning streak and finished second consecutive unbeaten DuKane slate. 

5. Lincoln

Lone remaining unbeaten team left in state. 

6. Whitney Young

Beat Kenwood by 13, got to the free throw line a ton in the city title game vs. the Broncos. 

7. Kenwood 

Now 26-5 after city title loss to Young. 

8. Bolingbrook

Has a good path to a Super-Sectional. May have to beat a Homewood-Flossmoor team it has lost to. 

9. Libertyville

On a 10-game win streak. Had a big comeback win over Carmel Monday. 

10. Quincy Notre Dame

Rolling right along into the postseason. Heavy favorite to win Class 2A.Potential teams to knock them off? Fieldcrest, Peotone, PORTA, Butler College Prep, Dee-Mack, Breese Mater Dei, Teutopolis, Paris. 

11. O’Fallon

If they get hot, they could make it to Redbird Arena. 

12. Deerfield

On fire as of late. Convincingly defeated Maine South. 

13. Benet Academy

Edged Montini, lost to Carmel on the 1st on a last-second play. Won 2 of 3 games with Carmel this season. 

14. Peoria

Now 23-3. Will have to get by some good teams to get out of the Richwoods’ sectional 

15. Loyola Academy

Heads into the postseason plenty battle-tested. In a span of a few days, beat Montini comfortably, then lost to a then-red-hot Mother McAuley. 

16. Montini 

23-7, lost to Loyola and Benet in the last week. 

17. Lyons

Undefeated in the WSC (12-0) and has won 12 straight. 

18. Maine South 

Now’s the time to see how the sophomore-heavy Hawks respond to postseason basketball. 

19. Saint Ignatius

24-6, trying to get things right after two  GCAC tourney losses. 

20. Peoria Notre Dame

In a tough sectional, but capable of making a run. 

21. Normal

Will likely have to beat Joliet West, and then either O’Fallon or Alton to get through sectional. 28-3.

22. Carmel

Battle-tested and adapting to the loss injured forward Mia Gillis. Beat highly-ranked Benet, only to loss to a capable Evanston squad.

23. York

Helter skelter style could be fun in a postseason environment. 

24. Hersey

At 23-8, has played many of the best teams in the state. 

25. Barrington

Don’t look now, but they’re entering the postseason hot and Sophie Swanson is scoring in buckets.

Knocking On The door At The End

Lake Zurich




Glenbrook South

St. Charles North

Lincoln-Way Central

Marian Catholic 




Who else should be considered? 

Girls 2022-2023 High School Basketball Rankings Week 11


Week 2

Week 4

Week 5

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

1. Nazareth 

Nice wins against Deerfield and Marian Catholic this week. Relatively comfortable wins against solid teams. 

2. Fremd 

Controlled throughout against Maine South, also had a strong 59-46 win over Montini. 

3. Alton 

Sustained its first loss, a road defeat at O’Fallon. Alton had already beaten O’Fallon twice this year. Losing in a wild road environment not a big knock on the Redbirds, who have been playing some of the best ball in the state.

4. Geneva

Three wins this past week, including a victory over St. Charles North.

5. Kenwood 

Overcame a double-digit first-half deficit to beat Whitney Young Saturday at Brooks High School. Ariella Henigan was huge with 28 points. 

6. Lincoln


7. Whitney Young

Sustained a close loss to Kenwood in a potential preview of the city title game. 

8. Bolingbrook

Took first in-state loss of the season to Homewood-Flossmoor. 

9. Benet 

Play Carmel in ESCC tournament on Wednesday. 

10. Libertyville 

22-4, play Lake Zurich and Maine South this week. Registered a solid win over Lake Forest. 

11. Quincy Notre Dame 

Up to a 16-game win streak. Have not lost to an Illinois team. 

12. O’Fallon

Third time was a charm in a 51-38 home win vs. previously-undefeated Alton. Also beat Edwardsville. 

13. Maine South 

Two wins and a loss to No. 2 Fremd. 

14. Saint Ignatius 

Winners of 15 straight against Illinois teams. 

15. Montini 

A loss to Fremd and 2 wins this past week. 

16. Peoria 

Decisive 56-35 win over Normal. 

17. Deerfield 

Played competitively with Nazareth, in a loss, scored 90 vs. Niles North and beat Lake Forest on the road. 

18. Hersey 

Fell to Prospect, big road win over Mother McAuley. Fun matchup with Glenbrook South on Monday. 

19. Normal 

Fell to Peoria, won 2 games.

20. Carmel Catholic 

Won 2 games and big matchup with Benet coming in ESCC tourney.

21. Lyons 

Pulled out close wins over Lincoln-Way West and Mother McAuley. Will have to beat Downers Grove North and York to finish unbeaten in conference play. 

22. York

Won 3 games last week a a big showdown looms with Lyons on Friday. 

23. Loyola Academy 

2 wins, including one over Prospect, and a loss to Glenbrook South. 

24. Peoria Notre Dame 

Defeated by Morton, defeated Urbana and small-school power Dee-Mack.

25. Barrington

Won 3 games, now 19-8.

Games With Rankings Implications 

Prospect at Stevenson

Prospect knocked off Hersey in its second try vs. Hersey this season. Did so on the road and up to 20 wins. Bordering on the rankings Had some rough bigger losses earlier in the season, but to good teams. A home game against Stevenson could be a really fun one. Stevenson has 4 straight wins, which included a conference win over Lake Zurich.

Lake Zurich at Libertyville 

Finally mending some from injury. Won 2 games and lost by a point to New Trier. Big road game with NSC title implications Tuesday at Libertyville. Could find themselves back in the rankings as they get healthier Libertyville also hosts Maine South on Thursday.

Carmel Catholic at Benet 

The Corsairs could boost themselves up the rankings a bit with a win in the ESCC tourney. Ashley Schlabowske seems to be playing good ball for Carmel lately. Anna Hartman is also back from injury, which is huge. The winner will play in the ESCC tourney title game on Saturday. 

York at Lyons 

York could tie for the WSC lead with a win at Lyons on Friday. The battle of guards Ally Cesarini and Mariann Blass could be a fun one. 

Glenbrook South at Hersey

GBS is a very capable squad that could deal a blow to Hersey in Arlington Heights on Monday. Two of the area’s better guards in Sidney Rogers and Katy Eidle go head-to-head. 

Richwoods at Peoria Notre Dame

Maybe Lexi Baer and Kamryn Heider are capable of making a splash at PND on Thursday? 

Girls 2022-2023 High School Basketball Week 10 Rankings 

Girls 2022-2023 High School Basketball Week 10 Rankings 


Week 2

Week 4

Week 5

Week 7

Week 8

Week 9

1. Nazareth (1)

Winners of 15 in a row. Play Deerfield Monday. Grace Carstensen has become the go-to scorer. 

2. Fremd (2)

Beat Barrington and held a good Schaumburg team to 9 points.

3. Alton (3)

Who can beat the Redbirds? No one has an answer yet. Teutopolis almost found a way. Redbirds also beat Okawville, who I’ll write more about later. 

4. Bolingbrook (4)

Still has not lost to an in-state foe and is 19-2. 

5. Whitney Young (6)

Followed win over Hersey with dubs against Northside and Butler. 

6. Geneva (7)

Heads into big week in DuKane at 18-3.

7. Kenwood (9)

Sanai Tyler scored 21 in a 68-57 win over Butler. Also beat La Lumiere and Simeon.

8. Lincoln (13)

Lincoln seems capable of dominating near any team in the state. They roared out to a 19-3 lead over Peoria and never let the Lions get closer than 6 in a 48-41 win. 

9. Hersey (10)

Big games next weekend against Prospect and Mother McAuley

10. Maine South (12)

Had its 16 game win streak ended by York, but not before taking control of CSL South with a win over Glenbrook South. 

11. Benet (11)

Defeated Geneseo and Carmel after a loss to Noblesville on Monday. 

12. Libertyville (14)

19-4 and controls destiny in North Suburban conference at 9-1.

13. Quincy Notre Dame (15)

Winners of 15 straight without an in-state loss. 

14. Saint Ignatius (17)

Defeated Mother McAuley this week to earn an outright win of the GCAC Red.

15. Montini (18)

Winners of 6 straight and play Fremd Monday. 

16. O’Fallon (5)

Fell to Okawville, ending a 6-game win streak. Did beat Civic Memorial and Mater Dei.

17. Peoria (21)

Grabbed its 2nd win over PND in 3 tries and lost to Lincoln. 


18. Peoria Notre Dame (16)

Fell to Peoria in what is a great rivalry and matchup for both squads. Did beat Dunlap Monday. 

19. Normal (19)

Up to 22 wins. Pulled out close wins over Richwoods and Lincoln-Way West.

20. Lake Zurich (8)

Been struggling with injuries to arguably its two best players in Baylie Parks and Avery Cooper. Difficult to pinpoint where they should be given that with both players they’re a top 10 team and without either they’re not a top 25 team. Stevenson beat them and if LZ doesn’t get healthy, SHS or others could find itself in a top 25 spot. 

21. Carmel Catholic (20)

Beat Stevenson, lost to Benet and held Marian Catholic to 24 points in a win.

22. Deerfield (23)

Has won 6 straight, including wins over Mother McAuley and Barrington. Plays Nazareth Monday. 

23. Lyons Township (25)

Undefeated in West Suburban and has won 7 straight. Plays Mother McAuley Monday.

24. Loyola Academy (24)

Now 19-4 with a fun matchup against Glenbrook South coming Tuesday. 

25. Barrington (22)

The saving grace for the 16-8 Fillies is that they’re still built in a way that could lend itself to postseason success. Have lost 3 of last 5.

Unranked team notes 


Beat O’Fallon before losing to Alton. 

Really conflicted when it comes to the greater St. Louis area. Alton is the undisputed best on the east side of the Mississippi in the area. O’Fallon has taken Alton to the wire multiple times and Okawville has a win over O’Fallon now (55-50). The Rockets also defeated the O’Fallon Panthers twice last year. It’s hard to justify ranking O’Fallon above Okawville, but do think the Panthers have a better resume, despite losing to Okawville. 

York (UR) 

Now 17-5 after ending Maine South’s, 16-game win streak Stella Kohl was big in the game. 

Neuqua Valley 

Undefeated in conference play and 16-9 overall. Defeated Naperville North this week but also ha a recent loss to Boylan Catholic. 

Plainfield East

10-0 in the SPC and has won 7 straight games. Lexi Sepulveda scoring quite a few points. 


Now 20-3 and has won 7 straight. 


18-2 undefeated in the Mid-Illini and has only lost to Normal.


17-4 and played Peoria Notre Dame within a point on the 16th. Now 7-1 in Mid-Illini .

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