Category Archives: Girls

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 13

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. 

Stats are critical to highlight these players and teams. Get in touch to submit a girls team or player at any point during the 2021-22 season. I can be reached at KalebCarter4256@gmail.com or on Twitter @Kaleb_M_Carter.

Editor’s note: Stats and records are accurate through Sunday, Feb. 13.

Notable Week 13 Team Performances

Whitney Young

When I watched Whitney Young against Stevenson at Fremd’s early December invite, the Dolphins’ talent was achingly apparent. I’d previously seen it in spurts on a summer day at the Morton College Summer League.

Stevenson’s cohesiveness was light years ahead of what the Dolphins showed that day, leading to a 69-60 win. The Dolphins at that point found themselves 2-3, having lost three games to teams that are now in the Illinois-Basketball.com Top 25. 

Saturday, the Dolphins claimed a city title at Credit Union 1 Arena, in a 57-55 triumph over a Kenwood team with three current senior Division I commits in Brianna McDaniel (Texas A&M), Whitney Dunn (Loyola) and DonYeil Bolton (Alabama State). 

“I think the losses that we took earlier in the season were needed so we could be prepared for games like this, because at one point we were down 17-6,” junior Skylar Jones said. “I think we needed to stay composed, slow down and get our groove back.”

Jones was in takeover mode in the third quarter, with her defense (five steals) helping jump-start the Dolphins and leading to easy buckets in transition and the half-court. She helped Whitney Young dictate the pace it wanted as they surged ahead.

“Her mental is on a whole other level right now,” Whitney Young coach Krissy Harper said. “How she was earlier in the season, how she came out slow, that first possession she missed that left-handed layup … She would have crumbled. But she held it together. She couldn’t really find her rhythm in the first half, but she definitely came through for us in the second half.”

Every Dolphins player played with assured confidence that showed their belief in one another and what they were doing collectively. Tanila Marshall’s defense around the rim deterred the Broncos. Olivia Vick provided a shooting threat and a cool under-pressure ball-handling presence. Freshman Alana Shields hit timely free throws and handled the ball well against Kenwood’s pressure.

After an ice-cold first half, freshman Destiny Jackson rose to the occasion in the second half with some pull-up jumpers, and added rebounding and a passing touch. Maia Downes’ crucial 10 points in the first half kept the Dolphins in the hunt. 

“Maia Downes was the silent assassin,” Harper said. “Seriously. She’s the one who kept us in the game, undoubtedly. … I’m so proud of her. Her being a senior, I really believe she took all of this in and she wanted to go out with a bang.”

Every Dolphins player has meshed as the season advanced. At the time of Saturday’s win, Whitney Young had won 12 consecutive games. That run started with a 50-44 win over Loyola Academy on Dec. 30. 

“We’re light years ahead,” Harper said of where the Dolphins were in December. 

“We all started to mix,” Jones said. “We all started to get on the same page. When you saw us against Stevenson, I don’t think we were all on the same page. We were having mental and internal issues, and I think over time they started flattening out and we started to get on the same page.”

The Dolphins are highly likely to face Kenwood again. Soon. 

A possible sectional semifinal matchup looms between the two. 

“We should definitely be grateful, but not take it for granted because Kenwood is definitely a very good team,” Jones said. “We’re going to end up playing them again in state (playoffs), so I don’t think we should take them for granted at all.”

Should the Dolphins play to their full potential, sink more shots than they did in the comeback win over Kenwood…

And should a motivated Kenwood bring their A-game and prove ready to weather the storm…

Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Lyons Township High School should be a great deal of fun.

Huntley

Defeated Dundee-Crown, 56-26, and Crystal Lake Central, 42-16, and sealed the deal on the Fox Valley Conference championship.

Peotone

Went undefeated, 14-0, in the Illinois Central 8; beat Joliet Catholic, 45-40, and Manteno, 64-26. 

Dupo

Earned Kaskaskia Division title with a 10-0 mark when they defeated Valmeyer 49-42. Also beat New Athens, 46-26.

Hononegah

Blasted Belvidere, 61-8, and Rockford East, 68-23. to run its winning streak to 13 games heading into the postseason. Went undefeated in NIC-10.

Orangeville

Won NUIC North with a 46-28 win over Pecatonica and defeated Durand, 47-24.

Normal

Defeated Plainfield North, 47-46, and Bloomington, 61-32.

Maine South

Defeated Deerfield, 72-65, to avenge an earlier loss and win the CSL title game, led by Emily Pape’s 31-point, 13-rebound performance. 

Brimfield

Thumped Rockridge, 50-19, and Class 2A No. 1 Quincy Notre Dame, 73-49.

Lincoln-Way East

The Griffins defeated Argo, 53-31, and Plainfield South, 56-44. Sophomore Lana Kerley had 26 points and assists in one of the wins.

Notable Week 13 Individual Performances

Ariana Warren, Arcola, Sr.

Scored 37 on 15-of-22 shooting and reached 1,000 points in a 78-26 win over Chrisman. 

Helped team get to NTC title game.

Sophia Hoffman, Carlyle, Fr.

Scored 19 points and added six steals, four assists and four rebounds in a 54-35 win over Wesclin. 

Posted 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, three rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 67-36 win over Red Bud.

Tessa Crawford, Jersey, So.

25 points, including five made three-pointers, six rebounds, four assists and four steals versus Cahokia. 

18 points, four three-pointers, four rebounds, two assists and three steals against Waterloo.

Alyssa Seymour, Chester, Sr.

Totaled 30 points and 19 rebounds in 72-36 victory against Sparta. 

Added 13 points, 13 rebounds in another game.

Alyssa Hughes, St. Charles North, Jr.

Scored 30 with nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in a 56-54 win over Batavia.

Was named unanimous DuKane all-conference. 

Lauren Miller, Trinity, So.

31 points and 11 rebounds versus De La Salle. 

Torrie Kortan, St. Charles East, Sr.

27 points in a win over Wheaton North. 

Kammie Ludwig, Geneseo, Sr.

Scored 37 points versus Moline as Geneseo clinched the Maple Leafs’ third-consecutive Western Big Six title and helped Geneseo win its 29th game, a school record. 

Abbey Schreacke, Quincy Notre Dame, Jr.

Scored 27 in a 45-35 win over Jeff City Helias (MO).

Posted 34 points, 10 rebounds in a loss to Brimfield. 

Totaled 20 points in a win over Liberty.

Bella Dudley, Tri-County, Sr.

23 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists in a win over Decatur Lutheran. 

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of February 13

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of February 13

By Kaleb Carter

Editor’s note: The Illinois-Basketball.com girls basketball rankings are an attempt to contextualize just how every team in the state stacks up with one another, regardless of the size of the school. 


The week ending Feb. 13 is the sixth week of rankings. It features more movement than any other edition. It took a lot of mental back-and-forth and plenty of switching around to try and get it all to feel right. With postseason play underway, now more than ever, these rankings don’t mean anything in terms of actual games being played. 

This is a long way of saying, some will not be particularly fond of this week’s rankings. 

With that preamble: Things got weird last week. When considering last week’s rankings, No. 1 Stevenson lost to No. 9 Nazareth. No. 4 Naperville North lost to Fenwick. No. 6 Sycamore lost to No. 14 Geneva. No. 19 Whitney Young beat No. 3 Kenwood in the Chicago City Championship game and that changed a ton about the rankings. No. 17 Okawville was beaten by unranked Breese Central. No. 25 Quincy Notre Dame was blasted by unranked 1A power Brimfield. 

It was the most agonizing ranking process I’ve undertaken since the first time we put these rankings out. 

1. Benet (25-3, +1)

Beat Montini this past week. No. 1 seed in Aurora (East) Sectional. Recent loss to Carmel not enough to keep Benet from the top spot. Has a great overall body of work and will be a strong favorite to make a run to the state title.

2. Nazareth Academy (27-2, +5)

Huge leap for Nazareth, which went from No. 15 the second week of January all the way up to No. 2 after a victory that ended Stevenson’s 26-game win streak. It honestly was hard to have Stevenson drop, but I believe heavily in the importance of head-to-head matchups when it comes to teams. 3A favorite.

3. Stevenson (29-2,-2)

It was not without great contemplation that Stevenson fell from its top ranking (for the first time) after a loss to previously-seventh-ranked Nazareth (now No. 3). Benet has beaten Nazareth 45-31 (Feb. 24), and Nazareth beat Stevenson. Stevenson had won 26-consecutive games before the Feb. 9 loss to Nazareth. Is battle-tested and should make a run to Redbird Arena.

4. Loyola Academy (27-3, +1)

Defeated Hersey in overtime, at Hersey. 

5. Naperville North (27-3, -1)

Beat Waubonsie Valley, lost to Fenwick. 

6. Barrington (24-5, +6)

Defeated Prospect in the MSL title game. 

7. Geneseo (29-1, +1)

Won over Moline.

8. Bolingbrook (19-5, +2)

Defeated Sandburg, finished unbeaten in conference. 

9. Geneva (23-4, +5)

Defeated Sycamore on the road and won against Lake Park. 

10. Whitney Young (18-5, +9)

Won the city championship over Kenwood. 

11. Kenwood (19-6, -8)

Lost to Whitney Young in the city title game. 

12. Sycamore (28-2, -6)

Fell at home to Geneva. Beat Plano. 

13. Joliet West (24-3, –2)

Lost to Providence Catholic, defeated West Aurora.

14. Fremd (25-6, -1)

Defeated Hersey in overtime.

15. Lyons Township (25-3, No change)

Handed Willowbrook a loss. 

16. Edwardsville (25-4, No change)

Beat Lutheran North (MO) and Belleville West. 

17. Hersey (26-5, -8)

Lost in overtime to Fremd. 

18. Peoria (24-3, +2)

Win over Manual.

19. Okawville (27-2, -2)

Lost to Breese Central.

20. O’Fallon (23-5, -2)

Wins over Vashon (MO) and Collinsville. 

21. Peoria Notre Dame (No change)

Defeated Normal West. 

22. Marist (21-9, No change)

Beat St. Ignatius. 

23. Montini (22-8, +1)

Lost to Benet. 

24. Winnebago (29-2, -1)

Wins over St. Francis and Harlem. 

25. Homewood-Flossmoor (16-8, UR)

Defeated Lockport. 

Just Missed Out

  • Willowbrook (UR)
  • Carmel Catholic (UR)
  • Civic Memorial (UR)

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Weeks 11 and 12

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Weeks 11 and 12

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. Last week,we took a break, so we’ll be highlighting top performances from the past two weeks. 

Stats are critical to highlight these players and teams. Get in touch to submit a girls team or player at any point during the 2021-22 season. I can be reached at KalebCarter4256@gmail.com or on Twitter @Kaleb_M_Carter.

Editor’s note: Records are accurate through Sunday, Feb. 6, unless otherwise noted. Eligible games include Jan. 24 through Feb. 6. Some extras are thrown in this week due to missing Week 11.

Notable Week 11-12 Team Performances

Mother McAuley

Won the Greater Catholic Athletic Conference tournament with a 39-36 win over Montini in the championship game. Defeated Loyola, 36-31, and Saint Ignatius, 45-33, both in the GCAC tourney. Added a win against Lincoln-Way Central, 45-39.

Willows Academy

Was on a roll and won games over Christian Heritage Academy (51-11), Rochelle Zell (49-20), Wolcott (72-36), Yorkville Christian (39-37), Woodlands Academy (57-39) and Prosser (49-12).

South Elgin

Defeated Glenbard South, East Aurora, West Chicago and Bartlett, each by at least 21 points. Stayed unbeaten in conference and clinched Upstate 8 championship.

Joliet West

Wins over Plainfield North (60-51), Plainfield Central (68-47), AP Top 10-ranked Normal Community (70-63), Romeoville (50-48), Plainfield East (77-66) and Minooka (77-66).

Pana

Ended the week of Feb. 6 on a 24-game wining streak. Wins over Neoga, Litchfield, St. Joseph-Ogden, Newton and Greenville, none of which finished within 25 points of the Panthers. 

Hononegah

Kept on rolling with victories over Belvidere North, Freeport, Jefferson, Boylan Catholic and Guilford. Two great finishes with an overtime win over Belvidere North (43-42) and a buzzer-beating win over Guilford (55-54).

Fairfield

Wins over Carmi-White County, Flora (46-39 in double overtime) and Eldorado.

Oak Lawn

Has not lost in South Suburban Conference play. Beat Shepard, Reavis and Eisenhower, each by at least 12.

Stagg

Continued to win, defeating Lincoln-Way West, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Reavis, Andrew, Lincoln-Way Central and Joliet Central. Laila Baraket was on fire, including a career-high 32 points in an SWSC Red-clinching victory.

Brimfield

Fought through a difficult part of the schedule and beat Havana, Canton, Bushnell-Prairie City, Elmwood and Illini Bluffs.

Nazareth

Fell on the road at Benet, but responded by ripping off a win streak that brought the Roadrunners a 58-47 win over Carmel Catholic for the East Suburban Catholic Conference tournament title. Also defeated Marian Catholic, Marian Central Catholic Hoffman Estates, Joliet Cartholic and Marist.

Schaumburg Christian

Won the Northeastern Athletic Conference tournament. Defeated Westminster, Woodlands Academy, Yorkville Christian, Westminster Christian and Christian Life.

Mahomet-Seymour

Picked up victories against Mt. Zion, Charleston, Effingham, Centennial, Urbana and Taylorville to move to 25-4.

Mt. Vernon

Defeated Cahokia, Althoff Catholic and Centralia. Has not lost in the South Seven. Had a 10-game win streak going. 

Marquette Catholic (Alton)

Defeated Jersey, Highland, Carrollton, Greenfield/Northwestern, Gibault Catholic and Hamilton to continue a 12-game win streak.

Notable Week 11-12 Individual Performances

Jerzy Bittle, Marion, Jr.

Scored a career-high 40 points in a Jan. 27 win over Meridian.

Reached 1,000 career points.

Emily Pape, Maine South, Sr.

Scored a school-record 41 points in a Jan. 26 win over Willowbrook. 

Posted 19 points and 6 rebounds in a win over Libertyville. 

Scored 17 points and added 11 rebounds in win against York. 

Janae Kent, Oak Forest, Jr.

Totaled 46 points with 8 rebounds in a win over Hillcrest. 

Had 31 points and 7 rebounds in a victory against Lemont. 

Scored 14 points with 10 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals versus TF North. 

Riley Mont, West Aurora, Sr.

Scored 23 and reached 1,000 points against Oswego.

​​Posted 21 points in a victory over Plainfield Central.

Lili Duckmann, Elk Grove, Sr.

Reached 1,000 career points.

Scored a program single-game record 34 points versus Hersey. 

Posted 21 points versus Wheeling. 

Jordan Wood, Carmel Catholic, Jr.

Posted 22 in losing effort to Nazareth in the ESCC tournament title game. 

Scored 25 in a win over Illinois-Basketball.com second-ranked Benet

Piled on a career-high 33 points in a defeat of Saint Viator. 

Scored 17 in a win over Joliet Catholic.

Maya Osborn, Marshall, Sr.

Put up a hefty stat line of 27 points, 11 rebounds, 9 steals, 5 blocks and 5 assists in a win over ALAH.

Had 12 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 6 steals in a defeat of Arcola.

Posted 12 points, 10 assists, 7 steals and 5 rebounds in a win over Newton.

Eleanor Monyek, Hinsdale Central, Sr.

Scored 23 in a win versus Hinsdale South. Scored 17 in a loss to Glenbard West.

Posted 30 points and reached 1,000 career points in a win over Argo. 

Sydney Harris, Edwardsville, Sr.

Scored 29 with 8 rebounds in Edwardsville’s 13th consecutive victory, a win over Quincy Notre Dame. 

Broke the program record for scoring when she reached 1,807 career points.

Scored 22 in the win over Collinsville.

Posted 19 in a win over Belleville East. 

Kierney McDonald, Rockridge, Sr.

Scored 22 in a loss to Unity.

Posted 26 points and 21 rebounds in a victory over Monmouth-Roseville. 

Joy Bergstrom, St. Viator, Sr.

Became Saint Viator’s all-time leading scorer and recently went over 1,700 career points. 

Posted scoring totals of 15, 17, 18, 21, 9 and 21.

Taylor Nowaskie, Olympia, Sr.

Became Olympia’s all-time leading scorer and signed with Lincoln Land Community College.

Had scoring totals of 32 and 31 versus Illinois Valley Central and Bloomington Central Catholic, respectively.

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of February 6

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of February 6

By Kaleb Carter

The Illinois-Basketball.com girls basketball rankings are an attempt to contextualize just how every team in the state stacks up with one another, regardless of the size of the school. 

This is the fourth week of rankings for the week ending Jan. 30 and there’s a bit of movement toward the top, and plenty of movement later in the top 25. One school made its first appearance in the top  25.

1. Stevenson (27-1, No change)

Rolled Zion-Benton 78-33. Ava Bardic scored 34 with 7 three-pointers on the Patriots’ senior night.

2. Benet (24-3, No change)

Upset by Carmel Catholic in the ESCC Tournament, which Nazareth went on to win. Defeated Marian Central Catholic and Marist.

3. Kenwood (19-5, +1)

Defeated Hyde Park and Phillips in the CPL Tournament to reach the city championship game, set to be played Feb. 12.

4. Naperville North (26-2, +1)

Wins against Metea Valley and Naperville Central.

5. Loyola Academy (25-3, -2)

Held to 31 points in a GCAC semifinal loss to Mother McAuley. 

6. Sycamore (26-1, No change)

Notched a signature win over Fremd with a last-second bucket by Faith Feuerbach. With wins over Fremd and Nazareth, has two resume-boosting victories. Beat Kaneland and LaSalle-Peru as well.

7. Nazareth (25-2, +1)

Won the conference tournament for one of the strongest leagues in the state (ESCC). Defeated Joliet Catholic, Marist and Carmel after Carmel just defeated Benet. Has a potentially thrilling game scheduled for Monday at home against Peoria Notre Dame.

8. Geneseo (28-1, -1)

Defeated East Moline, Alleman and Plainfield North. 

9. Hersey (24-4, No Change)

Beat Buffalo Grove. Big game scheduled at Fremd Tuesday. 

10. Bolingbrook (18-5, -1)

Lost to Edison Academy (Detroit, Mich.), wins over Andrew and Lockport. Remains in front of Joliet West by virtue of win over Tigers. 

11. Joliet West (22-2, No Change)

Defeated Edison Academy (Michigan), Minooka, Plainfield East and Romeoville.

12. Barrington (24-5, No Change)

Win streak up to 12 games after wins over Palatine and Conant. Barrington hosts Prospect in a de-facto MSL title game Wednesday.

13. Fremd (24-6, No change)

Lost on last-second bucket at Sycamore, won versus Schaumburg. 

14. Geneva (21-4, No change)

Finished undefeated in parity-filled DuKane. Put up 77 and 78 points, respectively, in wins over St. Charles East and Wheaton North. Has a non-conference road game scheduled against Sycamore on Thursday. Has now won 10 straight games.

15. Lyons Township (24-3, No change)

Beat OPRF and a traditionally strong defensive squad Downers Grove North, 63-30.

16. Edwardsville (22-4, No change)

Defeated Class 2A No. 1 Quincy Notre Dame on the road behind Sydney Harris’ 29 points. Also beat Collinsville.

17. Okawville (27-1, +2)

Defeated Carlyle. 

18. O’Fallon (20-5, +2)

Beat East St. Louis.

19. Whitney Young (18-5, +2)

Took down Morgan Park and Simeon in the city playoffs and will play Kenwood for the CPL title on Feb. 12.

20. Peoria (19-3, +2)

Handed Peoria Notre Dame its first loss since November, which was…also to Peoria. 

21. Peoria Notre Dame (23-2, +1)

Both losses have now come against Peoria. Also beat East Peoria and Urbana. Nazareth Academy is scheduled for Monday.

22. Marist (19-7, -4)

Defeated by Benet and Nazareth Academy. Thrashed Marian Catholic by 50.

23. Winnebago (27-2, No change)

Wins against Rockford Lutheran and Rockford Auburn.

24. Montini (21-7, No change)

Lost to Mother McAuley in the GCAC tournament title game 39-36. Beat Resurrection and Trinity.

25. Quincy Notre Dame (22-2, UR)

Beat Camp Point and South Shelby, fell to Edwardsville.

Just Missed Out

  • Willowbrook (UR)
  • Deerfield (UR)
  • Civic Memorial (UR)
  • Prospect  (UR)
  • Normal Community (UR)
  • Metamora (UR)
  • Homewood-Flossmoor (UR)

Teams to Watch

Lincoln, Alton, Carmel Catholic, Washington, Metamora, Hononegah, Libertyville, Paris, Providence Catholic, Sandburg, Normal, Lincoln-Way Central, Marian Catholic, Civic Memorial, Butler College Prep, Homewood-Flossmoor, Springfield, South Elgin, Mt. Vernon, Illini West, Mattoon, Brimfield, Downers Grove North, Galesburg, Pana, Fenwick, Saint Viator, Thornwood, Wheaton North, Maine South, Mother McAuley.

Purdue Commit Sophie Swanson Has Barrington Firing on All Cylinders

Purdue Commit Sophie Swanson Has Barrington Firing on All Cylinders

By Kaleb Carter

RIVER FOREST — Sophie Swanson can catch fire at a moment’s notice. When the ball is anywhere within 30 feet of the basket, she’s the prime threat on the floor to score.

The junior and Purdue commit honed the consistency of her shot over countless hours in the gym, developing a nearly-instant release in part against strong travel ball competition with Wolverinas AAU. 

“I’ve always naturally had a quick release,” Sophie Swanson said. “Especially with AAU and the high level that we play at. With all of that and the competition …you just can’t have a slow release … I get it off quick and it falls.”

That quick release has netted her games with scoring totals this season of 40 (a school record), 36, 33 and 32 — the final total in a recent win over Libertyville at the Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational at Trinity High School.

She picked up her offer from Purdue on an official visit on Oct. 23 and committed on Jan. 19. In between, Swanson reached 1,000 career points on Jan. 11 in an MSL West win over Conant. 

“They started recruiting me in September, offered in October on my first visit there,” Swanson said. “I took another visit in January where I watched them play IU and I just knew I wanted to commit. I loved everything about the school. The coaches, the fan base they have, the way they play, it all fit what I want. And they have a new coach so being a part of that era, I know it’s gonna be special.”

With a Division III Illinois Wesleyan signee in Laura Mahlum, a sophomore forward with a Loyola offer in Molly O’Riordan and a do-it-all player in Gwen Adler, the Fillies have sorted themselves out. That has led to a win streak that reached 12 games after Barrington defeated Conant Wednesday. 

Four of Barrington’s five losses have come to teams ranked higher in the Illinois-Basketball.com Top 25 rankings, including two losses to No. 1 Stevenson by a combined 13 points. The other is to Fremd, which the Fillies avenged recently, 62-47, as Swanson scored a program-record 40 points. 

“Even though you have a dynamic scorer like Sophie, it still takes all of us,” Barrington coach  Babbi Barreiro said. “The kids are settling into all of those roles.”

Swanson concurred with the sentiment, saying things have been exciting through the recent win streak and with great home-game environments.

“We’ve been playing really well as a team lately,” Swanson said. “Everyone’s settling into their roles and we’re really coming together as a team.”

Adler in particular played gutsy ball in a 61-45 win over Libertyville with 10 points and 12 rebounds. It’s a departure from the role she plays in the offseason with her travel squad, but she fills her role with the 23-5 Fillies. 

“You’ve got Gwen Adler who is getting rebounds and playing defense and scoring when she needs to,” Barreiro said. “Then you’ve got Molly [O’Riordan] inside who can score. And you’ve got Lauren Mahlum who can score when you need her to, and we’ve got Allison Funk and Gracie Stagnito who are hitting the shots that they need to when they need to.”

So it’s safe to say, the Fillies are getting things together at the right time. 

“We’re really coming together as a team,” Swanson said. “If we keep up the play, we’re looking to make it pretty far in the playoffs.”

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of January 30

Illinois Girls High School Basketball Rankings: Week of January 30

By Kaleb Carter

The Illinois-Basketball.com girls basketball rankings are an attempt to contextualize just how every team in the state stacks up with one another, regardless of the size of the school. 

This is the fourth week of rankings, for the week ending Jan. 30, and there’s a bit of movement toward the top, and plenty of movement later in the top 25. One school made its first appearance in the top  25.

1. Stevenson (26-1, No change)

Overcame an eight-point third-quarter deficit at a neutral site to defeat Kenwood 65-51 at Saturday’s Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational at Trinity High School. Did so without its best perimeter shooter Ava Bardic (concussion protocol). Beat Mundelein and Warren as well.

2. Benet (22-2, No change)

Defeated Nazareth, Marian Central Catholic and Marist. Also claimed fifth-consecutive ESCC title.

3. Loyola Academy (24-2, +1)

Has a win over Stevenson, so after Kenwood’s loss to Stevenson and the Ramblers’ eight-game winning streak, Loyola Academy leapfrogs the Broncos.

4. Kenwood (17-5, -1)

Lone in-state losses are to No. 1 Stevenson and No. 2 Benet. Set for a likely clash with Whitney Young for the city title.

5. Naperville North (24-2, No change)

Has not lost since Dec. 22. Wins over Downers Grove North and DeKalb by a combined 70 points.

6. Sycamore (23-1, No change)

Played from behind most of the game in a 53-51 loss to Lincoln-Way West, its first loss of the season. Played without 6-4 forward Evyn Carrier in the loss to LWW, as well as in wins over DeKalb and Huntley. No team has played them to a single-digit game in conference play.

7. Geneseo (25-1, No change)

Sustained first loss, falling to Rock Island 52-41. Beat Sterling. 

8. Nazareth (22-2, No change)

Started the week with a loss to No. 2 Benet. Beat Marian Catholic, Marian Central Catholic and Hoffman Estates.

9. Bolingbrook (16-4, No Change)

Wins over Homewood-Flossmoor, Providence Catholic and Lincoln-Way East.

10. Hersey (24-4, No Change)

Wins over Wheeling and Elk Grove.

11. Joliet West (18-2, No Change)

Defeated Normal Community, Plainfield Central and Plainfield North. 

12. Barrington (21-5, No Change)

On a 10-game win streak after defeating Palatine, Libertyville and Schaumburg. 

13. Fremd (23-5, No change)

Handled Hoffman Estates, Butler College Prep and Conant. 

14. Geneva (19-4, No change)

Wins against St. Charles North and Batavia. 

15. Lyons Township (22-3, +1)

Defeated Waubonsie Valley, Glenbard West and Saint Ignatius.

16. Edwardsville (18-4, +1)

Beat Vashon (MO), O’Fallon and Belleville East. 

17. Peoria Notre Dame (19-1, +1)

Hasn’t lost since Nov. 24. Beat Limestone and Richwoods this week.

18. Marist (19-7, -3)

Losses to Benet and Fenwick, wins over Trinity and Saint Viator. Drops below Lyons and Edwardsville, teams it has beaten, due to recent losses. 

19. Okawville (22-1, -1)

Wins versus Nashville and Chester. 

20. O’Fallon (19-5, No Change)

Beat Alton for the second time this season (lost to them once). Lost to Edwardsville. 

21. Whitney Young (16-5, No Change)

Handed losses to Ag Science and Orr by a combined 120 points. 

22. Peoria (19-3, No Change)

Defeated Centennial by 40 and clipped Normal Community by a point. 

23. Winnebago (24-2, +1)

Bested Rockford Christian and Genoa-Kingston. 

24. Montini (19-6, UR)

Wins over Aurora Central Catholic and OPRF. Montini moves into top 25 for the first time.

25. Quincy Notre Dame (20-1, UR)

Back into the top 25 after falling out several weeks back. Notched a huge win over Class 3A Civic Memorial. Also beat Rushville-Industry by 55.

Just missed out

  • Providence Catholic (UR)
  • Willowbrook (UR)
  • Deerfield (25)
  • Civic Memorial (UR)
  • Prospect (UR)
  • Downers Grove North (UR)
  • Morton (23)
  • Metamora (UR)
  • Homewood-Flossmoor (UR)

Teams to watch

Lincoln, Alton, Carmel Catholic, Washington, Metamora, Fieldcrest, Libertyville, Paris, Providence Catholic, Sandburg, Normal, Lincoln-Way Central, Marian Catholic, Civic Memorial, Butler College Prep, Homewood-Flossmoor, Springfield, South Elgin, Mt. Vernon, Illini West, Mattoon, Brimfield, Downers Grove North, Galesburg, Pana, Fenwick, Saint Viator, Thornwood, Wheaton North, Maine South, Mother McAuley.

Notebook: Top Talent on Display at Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational

Notebook: Top Talent on Display at Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational

By Kaleb Carter

Stevenson 65 Kenwood 51

Simone Sawyer cemented her status as one of the state’s best players, regardless of class, in Stevenson’s 65-51 win over Kenwood at the Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational at Trinity High School on Saturday. 

Sawyer, a Penn commit, scored 34, sinking 18-of-20 free throws and a trio of three-pointers. The Patriots have defeated Chicago’s top two city teams (Kenwood and Whitney Young) and carry a 26-1 record.

“We knew it was a big game coming in, just like Whitney Young and every other game,” Sawyer said. “We fight really hard and that’s something unique about this team. “We could be up 10 or down 10 and we still have the same fight regardless.”

The Patriots are also the Illinois-Basketball.com top-ranked team. 

The Broncos went up 39-31 about halfway into the third quarter. Stevenson locked down defensively toward the end of the period and into the fourth. Kendall Willams slowed the state’s consensus-best player Brianna McDaniel of Kenwood. Emory Klatt grabbed 20 rebounds to go with 10 points. The Patriots changed how they guarded McDaniel, a Texas A&M signee, and Whitney Dunn, a Loyola signee. 

“We made some adjustments, obviously Kendall (Williams) did a whole lot on Brianna McDaniel,” Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. “Such a talent, we all know that. What a wonderful player she is, but our kids just digging in, it goes with belief. They believe they can play with anyone and they want these moments and they want these games.”

The pair (McDaniel and Dunn) still combined for 29 points, but buckets were hard to come by in the second half.

Dunn scored nine of Kenwood’s first 15 points on three triples. The Broncos took a 27-22 lead into half. 

Stevenson freshman guard Nisha Musunuri’s performance (13 points) was critical as the Patriots’ all-time leading three-point shooter, Ava Bardic, missed due to being in concussion protocol.

 

“I’m so proud of her. She played really well,” Sawyer said of Musunuri. 

Graham was effusive abut her team’s approach to the game. After defeating Warren Friday evening, Graham said some of her team showed up to Saturday’s early shoot around at the school 45 minutes early with a basketball of their own. The Patriots’ bench was unwavering in their relentless positivity and exuberance.

“I think our biggest thing is our belief in each other and I’ve always said that,” Graham said. “We think and we know that we can play with anyone, and the kids go out there and they’re so resilient, right? They’ve been battle-tested. We played without our starting point guard. Our little freshmen and kids off the bench just step up and pick each other up. Such a special win.”

Barrington 61, Libertyville 47

After not scoring in the second or third quarters, Sophie Swanson turned on her offense like a switch, scoring 21 of her 31 in the fourth quarter of Barrington’s 61-47 win.

Emily Fisher registered a huge block and started a fast-break that led to a Rachel Rule layup as the Wildcats cut their deficit to 36-34 just over a minute into the fourth. But Libertyville couldn’t contain Swanson.

“We were kind of flat the whole game, so after I hit that one three we got pretty hype about after it and it was time to turn it up a notch,” Swanson said.

The Fillies controlled the first half, leading by as much as 14.

Recently having secured an offer to play for Loyola, 6-2 sophomore Molly O’Riordan scored eight.

Fisher scored 17 point to earn Player of the Game Honors for the Wildcats, and Swanson earned the honors for Barrington.

Lincoln Way-West 53, Sycamore 51

Ava Gugliuzza may be the one with all eyes on her, but it was a team effort for Lincoln-Way West in a 53-51 win over Sycamore to knock the Spartans (23-1) from the unbeaten ranks.

Aubree Schultz sank a corner three-pointer after a Warriors defensive stop to put Lincoln-Way West up 36-24 in the third, then hit another in the fourth to put the Warriors up 45-33. She finished with 12. Caroline Smith added some timely buckets in the third quarter on her way to 11 points for Lincoln-Way West.

Gugliuzza kept the ball on a string and created looks that made her a threat wherever she was on the floor. She even banked in two three-pointers in the first half.

Sycamore sophomore guard Lexi Carlsen (15 points) and senior Ella Shipley (14 points) led the way for Sycamore late.

Shipley ultimately banked in a shot from the volleyball line to tie the game 51-51 with 6.4 seconds remaining.

Following a timeout, and a clock malfunction that made the officials put time back on the clock, Ava Gugliuzza drew a foul on Sycamore’s JaKiya Thompson right in front of the scorer’s table. Gugliuzza sank both, and after another timeout, Sycamore couldn’t get a shot off as the Warriors held on.

Both teams were missing their biggest forwards: Even Carrier for Sycamore and Evan Pittman for Linton-Way West.

Feuerbach put in a rebound off an offensive rebound to pull the Spartans within four, 46-42, with 1:13 left. Gugliuzza sank two free throws for cushion, only Carlsen to sink a deep trey from the right wing to make it 48-45 with 44.7 seconds left.

After Feuerbach air-balled two shots on the game’s first possession, the senior St. Thomas commit got into her groove toward the end of the first quarter on her way to 17 points.

Gugliuzza (23 points) and Carlsen (15 points) were the players of the game.

Marist 69, Trinity 36

Elise Ward 26’s points landed her Player of the Game honors for Marist, while Lauren Miller’s 15 helped her gain the same for Trinity. 

Fremd 49, Butler College Prep 21

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 10

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 10

Bella Finnegan of Mother McAuley contests the jumper of Wheaton North's Claire Hyde.

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.

Stats are critical to highlight these players and teams. Get in touch to submit a girls team or player at any point during the 2021-22 season. I can be reached at KalebCarter4256@gmail.com or on Twitter @Kaleb_M_Carter.

Editor’s note: Records are accurate through Sunday, January 23, unless otherwise noted.

Notable Week 10 Team Performances

Kelly College Prep

The Kelly College Prep girls basketball team is filled with soccer players who can run for long periods of time. That’s how how fourth-year varsity head coach Hector Hernandez likes it.

“In the community I’m in, this is a soccer community,” Hernandez said. “I knew I was never going to be able to run a zone defense or a slow-paced game because we’re just going to get outmatched. Our tallest girls are probably 5-2, 5-3, 5-4. I’ve got a bunch of soccer girls and let’s be honest, soccer girls can run for days. So I literally said, ’Okay, we’re just going to create mayhem on the floor. Let’s just press all game.’ Our scoring comes from our defensive steals. We get a steal, make a layup. Get a steal, make a layup.”

In the four years since Hernandez has been the Trojans girls basketball coach, the Trojans have continued to move up in the Chicago Public League.

From the Green Central to the Blue/South Central then to the White South Central, the Trojans will move to the Red South/Central next season after a season that at one featured a 25-game winning streak.

The Trojans moved up to the White after going 9-0 (8-0 in conference play) Kelly carried momentum into the 2021-22 season thanks to returning seniors Griselda Gurrola (four-year varsity player) and Alyssa Valdez (three-years on varsity). The duo is averaging nearly 12 combined steals per game. Junior Malya Hill averages just over 10 points and 10 rebounds per game (as of January 26). As a team, the Trojans average nearly 23 steals per game.

The Trojans have seven seniors, four of whom are starters.

Hernandez said one factor in the winning streak was a non-conference schedule that could have tested his squad more. Still, the Trojans weren’t tripped up once they entered conference play. They have won 12 games by at least 20 points.

“About halfway through the middle of conference season, we were still undefeated,” Hernandez said. “Our non-conference schedule … it wasn’t as tough as I wanted it to be, but we just kept on winning. We kept on blowing people out. Conference season started and we literally kept blowing people out. I think that was when they realized we could do it again.”

After seeing their winning streak come to an end against Dyett on Jan. 14, the Trojans ripped off wins against Perspectives-IIT/Joslin, Solorio and Juarez to claim another conference title and secure the program’s next move up.

“Going up to the Red, you just want to compete,” Hernandez said. “I don’t want to be one of those teams that stays up there for one (season) and goes down. … I know aspirations of wanting to win the Red are probably not attainable, but I just want to compete next year.

“It’s all a system here,” he added. “As long as I keep getting soccer girls, we’ll keep winning.”

Civic Memorial

The Eagles improved to 21-3 after defeating Alton 54-38 and handing Okawville its first loss of the season, 53-47. Olivia Durbin scored 18 points with 8 rebounds in the Okawville win.

Westinghouse

Defeated Amundsen, 55-39, North Lawndale, 63-24, and Taft, 57-40. Jamilah Jackson has been one of Chicago’s most productive players this season.

Libertyville

Wins over Lake Zurich (34-29), Zion-Benton (71-27) and Willowbrook (58-51). 

Fieldcrest

Avenged its own loss to Eureka to end Eureka’s streak of four consecutive HOIC tournament titles, winning 47-28 at Illinois Wesleyan University. It was the first HOIC tournament crown for the Knights, who beat Deer Creek-Mackinaw, 44-23, and Lexington, 49-21.

Peoria

Rolled to four wins, most notably over Galesburg and Lincoln. The Lions move to 19-3 and remain undefeated in the Big Twelve.

Freeburg

Defeated Marissa/Coulterville, 54-38, and Granite City, 62-34. Freeburg stood 21-3 at the end of the week and unbeaten in the Cahokia-Mississippi. Kylie Kisgen averaged 20 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals over the two games.

Sacred Heart-Griffin

Beat Springfield Southeast, 53-37, and Central State Eight-leader Springfield, 47-46. Won city championship.

Carterville

Defeated Vashon (Mo.), 52-40, Marion, 65-42, and Mt. Vernon, 57-48. Won Carbondale Mid-Winter Classic Tournament and improved to 20-4. Alecia Doyle was named MVP of the tournament.

Tri-County

Has not lost since December. Wins over Decatur Lutheran (59-17), Cumberland (62-58) and two-loss ALAH (48-33).

Barrington

Defeated Fremd, 62-47, to avenge an earlier loss as Sophie Swason scored a program-record 40 points. Also scored wins over Rockford Auburn, 47-30, and Hoffman Estates, 63-33.

Notable Week 10 Individual Performances

Mariann Blass, York, Jr.

Scored 30 points in a 56-46 win over Hinsdale Central.

Xamiya Walton, Butler College Prep, So.

22 points, 4 assists and 2 steals in loss to Naperville North. 

21 points, 6 assists, 9 stealth and 5 rebounds in win over Comer.

Put up 23 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in win over Simeon. 

Contributed 25 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in a loss to Marist.

Sophie Swanson, Barrington, Jr.

Put up a program-record 40 points in a 62-47 win over Fremd. 

Also had 18 points in a win over Hoffman Estates.

Brianna McDaniel, Kenwood, Sr.

Scored 22 with 5 steals and 3 assists in Red South/Central-clinching 72-30 win over Simeon.

Put up 22 in an 82-76 double-overtime loss to one of Indiana’s best teams, Crown Point.

Summer Reid, Schaumburg Christian, Sr.

Scored 38 points versus Westlake Christian. Averaging over 26 points per game this season according to MaxPreps.

Abby Sheppard, Beecher, Sr.

Scored 25 with 5 assists in a 62-37 win over Reed-Custer .

Scored 22 with 5 rebounds in a 57-38 win over Wilmington.

Kalei Edson, Centralia, So.

Posted 16 in a 53-22 win against Greenville.

Scored 27 points in a 77-51 win over Vandalia.

Claire Hyde, Wheaton North, Sr.

Had 31 points in a loss to Batavia.

Posted 17 points in a 44-42 victory over Mother McAuley.

Lia Bosnich, St. Bede, Sr.

Scored 20 points with 11 rebounds in a 56-34 win against Kewanee.

20 points and 10 rebounds in a 56-24 defeat of Newman Central.

Mallory Ramage, Mattoon, Sr.

Now owns a school-record with a 43-point game in a win over Urbana.

Scored 25 as Mattoon defeated MacArthur.

Sophia Loden, Mascoutah, Jr.

Scored 27 in a 52-31 win over Greenville; added 15 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists.

Posted 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists in a 44-26 win over Centralia.

Was MVP and top scorer of the Vandalia Tournament. Averaging 22.5 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Amundsen Girls Basketball Team Keeps Making Leaps

Amundsen Girls Basketball Team Keeps Making Leaps

By Kaleb Carter

A second-place finish in the Green-North Conference in her freshman season left Amundsen’s Reina Grunfeld unsatisfied. She and other Vikings wanted to be playing at a higher level.

“My freshman year, it was not a great year,” Grunfeld, now a senior, said. “(Coach Cole Hunton) wasn’t here. We had a very typical low-grade CPS school basketball (team) basically. I wasn’t happy with our team. Sophomore year we came in and we were like, ‘This is our goal. This is what we’re going to do by senior year. You’re going to get to the Red. You’re going to get to the top.’”

On Wednesday, Jan. 19, the Vikings claimed a conference title for the second time in Hunton’s three seasons, this time in the White North/West, and moved to 9-0 in conference play with a 61-33 win over visiting Clark.

Grunfeld scored 27 and hit four three-pointers. Jocelyn Chammas added 13 points.

All of this conference success after starting 1-5 in a challenging non-conference slate.

Grunfeld, a guard, led the way against Clark with timely shooting, an ability to finish on the fast-break, and most importantly, leadership traits honed over the last few seasons.

Hunton said that Grunfeld and Reynolds were immediately anointed the cornerstones of the program as sophomores upon Hunton’s arrival.

“Year one, I don’t think they had the slightest idea of what it took,” Hunton said. “There was a want-to. Parents wanted things to change. The administration wanted to change. The program hadn’t done anything in 20-something-odd years. Everybody said, ‘Hey, I want to win.’ But are you willing to buy in and do those things?”

Grunfeld’s sophomore year, during the 2019-20 season, there wasn’t a single upperclassman on the roster.

“I never expected to just get put in as a sophomore as a captain and be leading a team as an underclassman,” Grunfeld said. “Basically for two years we were leading, no seniors on our team, no juniors.”

The young Vikings played with tenacity, pressing teams, trapping, trotting out zones. It’s something they’ve done to this day.

Following that sophomore year, COVID-19 hit, and things easily could have gone awry. Instead, the Vikings stayed together.

“After year one we took about a two-week break in March of 2020 and then we completely switched to a whole virtual deal,” Hunton said. “We never skipped a beat and people just stayed engaged, stayed in contact, connected and that really got this thing started. While last season was really short, to have that level of success and then have a busy June like we did and to start buying in … once you start seeing success against the upper echelon of teams and good competition, it makes it easy to buy in.”

Through Zoom calls, getting together in parks and weightlifting together when possible, the Vikings forged a unit that would make some noise this season and last.

“Basically we didn’t stop,” Grunfled said. “As the summer (of 2020) went on, we were able to see each other a little more, be able to play, not officially. But as juniors we brought everyone to play in the park, or this and that, and we just built on it.”

In last season’s shortened season, the Vikings went 12-5 overall and 9-0 in the Blue Northwest to move up to the White North/West.

After this season’s slow start, the Vikings have won 14 of their last 17 games and have Trinity and North Shore Country Day remaining on the schedule after the start of the Chicago Public League playoffs. The initial release of the CPL bracket has Amundsen — No. 20 of 32 teams who made the playoffs — playing No. 13 Perspectives. The Vikings stood 16-9 overall as of Sunday.

While seniors Grunfeld, a college-basketball hopeful, and Reynolds have led the way, Hunton thinks the junior class has perhaps an even better understanding of what it has taken for Amundsen to continue its winning ways. Even after losing their cornerstones, the Vikings have a cast of players who will return next season who have learned how to win, including Chammas, who is already a steady.

“I think our junior class really has a firm grasp of where we were and where we are at today,” Hunton said.

But ask Grunfeld, and she understands the impact her class has had on the once-floundering program.

“From everyone who started with us, the seniors and juniors, we were all like, ‘I can’t believe we got here,’” Grunfeld said. “But at the same time, we worked our butts off to get here. We know we deserve it and we should be in the Red.”

Angelina Smith Takes Control for Injury-Bitten Bolingbrook

Angelina Smith Takes Control for Injury-Bitten Bolingbrook

Bolingbrook sophomore Angelina Smith puts up a three-pointer.

By Kaleb Carter

Angelina Smith’s emergence has been a steadying force for the Bolingbrook Raiders.

Things could have gone awry given injuries to two of the Raiders’ stars. All-state senior guard Kennedi Perkins — who has had Division I offers since 2017 — has missed games since late November. Sophomore transfer forward Tahj-Monet Bloom suffered a season-ending ACL tear after reeling in her own Division I offers since freshman year.

Instead of floundering, Smith has helped take command of the Raiders. She showed her leadership qualities in a 49-44 win over Joliet West in the Coach Kipp Hoopsfest at Benet on Monday.

“As a point guard I had the feeling, okay, this is our game, we got this,” Smith said. “I was so confident in my team, I was so confident in myself, my shots were falling, my teammates’ (shots) were falling and we were playing with confidence.”

Smith has taken that attitude into Bolingbrook’s daunting schedule, one that has the Raiders and coach Chris Smith asking more of her, especially since the injuries.

“She’s really controlling our offense, trying to make sure everyone is in the right place right now, getting everybody set up and really [being] our primary ball-handler,” Chris Smith said. “That’s the biggest thing is just being a primary ball-handler, getting everybody involved and creating that team atmosphere back and forth.”

Against the Tigers on Monday, the Raiders went up big in the first half, taking a 28-14 halftime break on the back of their defense and transition offense. Angelina Smith scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the first half. She scored off the bounce, on jumpers and with a nifty post-move on the block toward the end of the first half. Bolingbrook overwhelmed Joliet West and Lisa Thompson, the Class of 2023’s top prospect per Prep Hoops Illinois, and kept the Tigers out of a rhythm in their half-court offense in the first half.

“When we are aggressive in the passing lanes and we have good on-ball defense and rotation, we’ve got to rotate well and rebound the basketball,” Chris Smith said. “We’re athletic enough we can get in the passing lane, create some havoc and create turnovers and look to get out in transition. We hang our hat on trying to be better defensively. That’s the key.”

Per Chris Smith, Perkins should be back in action before the end of January. Also returning for the Raiders in due time should be Yahaira Bueno, who Chris Smith called a true point guard.

The Raiders will play a more small-ball lineup when Perkins and Bueno return. That suits the team just fine.

“We’re so young. Ain’t so substitute experience,” Chris Smith said. “My (class of 2024) are getting a ton of experience. Angie has done a great job of taking over even though she’s only a sophomore, just taking over and giving the best she’s able to give. “

Seniors Kendall Winston — a short guard — and Miranda Fry — an undersized-post — have contributed immensely over the last few weeks. Fry brings an intensity on the defensive end that helps get the Raiders going.

“Miranda and Kendall (Winston), even though they were coming off the bench, they’re such good veterans,” Angelina Smith said. “They’ve been here around the program for four years now and having them, they know their role and they play their role really well. As a point guard I appreciate them and what they do because maybe sometimes the things people don’t always see and it leads to our wins.”

Of course, the Raiders’ successes have them thinking big. The Raiders’ lone in-state loss is to undefeated Sycamore. At 12-3 and unbeaten in the Southwest Suburban Blue, the Raiders still have Homewood-Flossmoor, Providence Catholic and Sandburg coming up in conference games.

“We’re trying to go down to state,” Angelina Smith said. “We’re trying to win state. I’m so excited to be on a team like this, such an amazing team with an amazing culture. Bolingbrook, we don’t just play for the team now, we play for the teams before us, the Ariel Massengales, the Morgan Tucks.”

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