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Phil Ralston knows each time Glenbrook South steps on to the basketball court, his team has a target on its back.
As the Glenbrook South varsity boys’ basketball coach, Ralston’s Titans have a 45-7 record the past two seasons. They finished 16-2 earlier this year in a condensed season that didn’t feature a state basketball tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“No one’s not going to know about us,” Ralston said. “Those days have ended.”
A big reason for that is seniors Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard.
The duo scored 700 combined points in 18 games as juniors last season, and both have committed to playing Division-I basketball at the next level: Martinelli at Elon University and Noard at Cornell University.
“There aren’t too many teams in the state that can claim that they have two All-State basketball players coming back and playing for them,” Ralston said. “That is something I’ve never had as a coach. So to have two high-level players coming back this year it makes a huge difference.”
As a sophomore, Martinelli played on a Glenbrook South team that won 29 games, so he knows what it is like to be a part of a good unit. But the 6-foot-8 shooting guard believes this year’s Titans can be special.
“I think we will be the best team the school has had ever,” Martinelli said. “We definitely have the most talent that I’ve ever seen at a public high school gym. We have so many guys that can come in and score, and we have guys that just want to get down and play defense and work hard.”
As for Noard, whenever someone asks him what the expectations are for this year, he always responds with the same answer.
“It’s to win a state championship,” Noard said. “It doesn’t really matter how we get there, how hard it is, what we do to get there. That’s my one goal.”
In order for the 2021-22 Titans to become the best team in school history or to win a championship, they are going to need more than just Martinelli and Noard to accomplish those goals.
Last season, Glenbrook South had seniors Matthew Rosenberger and Justin Leszynski they could count on. The two finished as the team’s third and fourth leading scorers, respectively. Rosenberger scored 115 points and Leszynski added 100 points. And as seniors, they also provided leadership for the team.
Junior Rodell Davis Jr. — also known as RJ to his coaches and teammates — is someone that Ralston, Martinelli and Noard view as bringing those same qualities for this season.
“I really think that RJ has become such a good leader this year,” Martinelli said. “It’s crazy just to see how much he has grown from sophomore to junior year.”
For Davis, he wasn’t surprised to hear his coach and teammates express their confidence in him.
“Over this past offseason, I’ve been in the gym everyday lifting, getting better. I feel like I’m bigger, stronger,” Davis said. “So I was kind of expecting it and I’m prepared to take on the role.”
Ralston, Martinelli and Noard also expressed confidence in senior Spencer Brown and junior Gavin Marr. The talent is there for Glenbrook South, and that’s why Ralson and the rest of the Titans’ coaching staff have constructed a schedule that will test the players.
This season, Glenbrook South is slated to play teams like Glenbard West, Simeon, and, of course, conference rival New Trier. Chicago Sun-Times editor Michael O’Brien ranked all three of those teams — including Glenbrook South — in his Super 25, with Glenbard West at No. 1, Simeon No. 5, Glenbrook south No. 6 and New Trier No. 9.
The Titans began their 2021 season competing in the Ed Molitor Thanksgiving Classic Varsity Boys’ Basketball Tournament. Glenbrook South defeated Elk Grove, 91-49, on Monday for its first game of the year. And followed that performance with a 79-32 victory over Jacobs the next day.
Next up, Glenbrook South will face York on Friday and finish the tournament on Saturday. This week’s worth of games is just the beginning of what the Titans expect to be a highly productive season.
“I think we have a group that is mentally tough. They’re hungry,” Ralston said. “They want to try and accomplish something that our program has never done, which is to win a sectional. Great aspiration. We certainly have the talent and capability to do it. Now it’s a matter of being able to put it all together, with no guarantees that it is ever going to happen.”
Illinois-Basketball.com sends emails to the vast majority of coaches in the state of Illinois looking for the some of the top performances from players in the state.
An email was sent to every coach with an email listed on the IHSA website. Any emails omitted can be pointed out to the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to our database.
We’ve identified nearly 50 deserving athletes between boys and girls basketball. We’ve also included a list of milestones and accomplishments from the past week. Check out who we recognized Week 3.
Illinois Girls Player of the Week Nominees
- Elana Wells, Burlington Central (3A): in three games, averaged 21.6 ppg, 5 rpg and 3 spal Also went over 1,500 points in a 60-51 win Saturday over Butler Prep.
- Tori Standefer, Civic Memorial (3A): Averaged 18 ppg, 3 apg, 4 spg over the week as CM leaped out to a 9-1 start (5-0 in the Mississippi Valley).
- Addison Miller, Benton (2A): Averaged 19.7 ppg, scoring 24 vs. Murphysboro, 9 vs. Herrin and 26 vs. Massac County; Made 8 3-pointers, a single-game school-record on Saturday and reached 1,000 career points; Benton moved to 8-1 and 7-0 in the Southern Illinois River to River.
- Jasmine Brown, Joliet Catholic (2A): Put up 20 points against Minooka, 32 against Providence 17 vs. Marian Central Catholic and 16 against Marian Catholic.
- Trinity Wade, Shelbyville (2A): In three games, averaged 26 ppg, 6 spg.
- Bree Portz, Marissa (1A): Averaged 16.3 ppg, 4.5 apg, 4 sig, 2.8 rpg over four games in wins over Dup, Sparta, Waterloo Gibault and Valmeyer.
- Kylie Kisgen, Freeburg (2A): The sophomore point guard shot 70.3% from the floor and averaged 12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg over for games (three wins) against the likes of Alton Marquette, Okawville, Salem, and Breese Central.
- Claire Hyde, Wheaton North (4A): Scored 25 points against Geneva; put up 23 points in 14 minutes of play against St. Charles East; added 20 against Batavia.
- Lexi Salazar, Plainfield North (4A): Was 4 of 5 on 3-point attempts and scored 20 in a 76-42 win over Plainfield East.
- Brenna Loftus, Riverside Brookfield (3A): Posted 42 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals to take down undefeated Aurora Christian; Loftus, who Illinois-Basketball.com profiled after she committed to Washington (St. Louis), is averaging 27 ppg, 6 rpg and 3.7 spg.
- Alli Fuller, Tremont (2A): Set school record with 33 points in a game, reached 1,000 points and is averaging 19.5 ppg this season for Turks team that was undefeated before Tuesday, March 2.
- Riley Mont, West Aurora (4A): Averaged 22.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.6 spg and 1.6 apg in three games.
- Charlotte Trunk, Sandburg (4A): Averaged 14 ppg, 10 rebounds in a 3-0 week against Lincoln-Way East, rovidence and Andrew; Also, Josie Canellis averaged 13 ppg, hit 7 3-pointers, and went 11 of 11 on free throws.
- Josie Ness, Sandwich (3A): Helped lead Sandwich to a 2-1 record, beating LaSalle-Peru and Ottawa, but lost to Kaneland, scored 26 points, added 22 rebounds, 11 steals, 5 assists, 3 blocks.
- Sydney Affolter, Marist (4A): Scored 29 points, had 14 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in a win over Mother McAuley on Monday; Scored 18 points, posted 9 rebounds and sank 2 free throws with 2.2 seconds to seal a win over Marian Catholic; had 23 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a win over Nazareth on Saturday.
- Sydney Harris, Edwardsville (4A): In four games, posted scoring totals of 21 (twice), 33 and 23.
- Emma Morrissey, Saint Viator (3A): Scored 12 points, had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals in a 50-34 win over Marian Central Saturday; 16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds in a 69-62 win over Marian Catholic Friday; 26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists in a 77-71 win over Carmel Catholic; Put up 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists in defeating previously unbeaten Loyola Academy Tuesday.
- Janae Kent, Oak Forest (3A): Totaled a 33-point, 17-rebound effort on Feb. 23; 20 points, 9 rebounds in a win over Shepard Thursday; 20 points in a 76-70 loss to Hillcrest Friday.
- Katy Eidle, Hersey (4A): Super soph scored 27 as the Huskies controlled the state’s No. 2 team, winning comfortably, 57-35.
Illinois Boys Player of the Week Nominees
- Zach Derus, Rockford Lutheran (2A): Scored 32 in a 97-78 Lutheran win over Indian Creek on Feb. 23, handing the Timberwolves their first regular season loss since 2019; Derus went over 1,000 career points on Feb. 13.
- Anthony Taylor, Richards (4A): Filled the stat sheet with 37 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks and a steal against Evergreen Park; 21 points, 5 steals vs. Reavis; 23 points, 5 assists vs. Bremen; Taylor, as of Sunday, was averaging 26 ppg, 7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 3.2 spg, 0.8 bpg.
- Trey Totheroh, Milford (1A): Scored 18 points, had 10 rebounds and 7 assists in a win over Westville; Totheroh, the school’s all-time leader in assists, owns the single-game school record with 14 assists and has kept Milford winning.
- Zach Tucker, Byron (2A): The future University of Dubuque student scored 22 points, a trio of made 3-pointers, had 8 steals (6 deflections) and 5 rebounds in a 59-48 win over Stillman Valley on Feb. 22
- Grant Hyer, Quincy Notre Dame (2A): Put up scoring totals of 12 vs. Camp Point, 22 vs. Mendon Unity and 28 over Pittsfield as QND went 3-0 on the week.
- Daniel Tingley, Marshall (2A): posted scoring totals of 27 and 20 as the Lions improved to 7-2 overall.
- DeAndre Young, Harlem (4A): the sophomore scored 24 points and held Freeport’s leading scorer to 3 points in a 75-54 Huskies win as Harlem improved to 7-1.
- Liam Bivona, Manteno (2A): in two games over the weekend (both wins), Bivona scored 43 point on 14 of 23 shooting (including 10 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc), added 2 assists and 2 steals.
- JT Welch, Bloomington Central Catholic (2A): Scored 21 points in close win over Peoria Christian; Posted 35 points in a two overtime 84-74 victory over St. Thomas More; Added 27 in a 60-58 home overtime win against Streato; Went over 1,000 career points.
- Corey Walker, Normal West (4A): In four games, averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds; hit the winning layup with five seconds left vs. Danville; Scored 28 against Yorkville Christian; Posted 21 points, 15 rebounds against Bloomington.
- Donovan Johnson, Rich Township (4A): Averaged 11.8 ppg and shot 6 of 12 from beyond the 3-point arc.
- Matas Deksnys, Lockport (4A): The 6 foot, 7 inch sharpshooter tied the school record when he sank 7 3-pointers for all 21 of his points in a win over Stagg Saturday; helped lead the Porters to a 3-1 record with the lone loss coming in four overtimes to Homewood-Flossmoor, a game in which he had 16 points, 6 rebounds; Had 18 points, 7 rebounds in an overtime win over Andrew; 11 point against Joliet Catholic; Averaged 16.5 ppg, 4.25 rpg, 1.5 apg, 39% from 3; 45 FG% and 90% on FTs; Also, Angelo Vassilakis put up a stat line of 14 points, 9 rebounds, 7 steals and 5 assists in the win over Andre; Added 11 assists to 3 turnovers against H-F and 5 assists to 0 turnovers against Stagg.
- Xavier Sulaiman, Marist (4A): The sophomore scored 19 Saturday against Brother Rice.
- K.J. Vasser, Yorkville Christian (1A): Scored a career-high 34 points in an 89-48 win over Harvest and 12 in a 103-60 victory over Pontiac.
- Bryce Moore, Carmel Catholic (3A): Piled up 27 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists in a 62-44 win over Marist Friday.
- Noah Livingston, Casey-Westfield (1A): 29 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, 7 steals in a win over Olney; Also 31 points 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals in a victory vs. Red Hill as C-W, undefeated in conference, aims to win fourth straight Little Illini Conference regular season title.
- Mason Accidentale, Plano (3A): Scoring totals of 21, 18 and 23 against Sycamore, LaSalle-Peru and Kaneland respectively.
- Kyle Athmer, Breese Central (2A): Averaged 16 ppg and 9 rpg over three games; Also, Brady Moore, averaged 13.3 ppg, 6 rpg.
- Kam Craft, Buffalo Grove (4A): Reached 1,500 points Saturday in a 38-point performance in a 67-50 win over Conant. Craft is now averaging 25 ppg and has 5 double-doubles.
- Tahj Bloom, Grayslake Central (3A): Averaged 15 ppg, 15 rpg over 3 games, including an 18-point, 21-rebound, 8-assist game.
- Robert Staffo, Egyptian (1A): Scored 27, added 5 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals against Joppa; Then, against Joppa again, scored 35, had 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 block and 2 steals; Scored 27, had 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 1 steal against Agape Christian.
- Maurice Evans, Tinley Park (4A): 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals in a 67-63 win over TF North; 23 points, 13 rebounds in a 63-53 victory against Argo.
- JJ Taylor, Kenwood (3A): 33 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists in an 86-49 win over Bowen; 41 points (including 9 of 12 on 3-point shooting), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals In a 96-56 win over Clemente; 37 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists as Kenwood beat Morgan Park 91-68.
- Jacob Schleich, North Fulton: Scored 41 points in a in a 70-56 win over Peoria Heights; Scored 18 in a loss to Brimfield.
- Julian Davila, Elmwood Park (3A): The senior captain is now top 5 in program history in scoring and hit a half-court buzzer-beater to defeat Westmont Friday; Uncommited to college, Davila averaged 18.5 ppg last season and is averaging 20 ppg this season.
Milestones/Accomplishments, Game-Winners and more
We’re on the lookout for records and milestones, monster performances and game-winners. You can find more info like this by subscribing to the Illinois High School Basketball News Newsletter.
- Two seniors were named to the final McDonald’s All-American rosters: Rolling Meadows’ Max Christie on the boys side; Naperville North’s Greta Kampschroeder on the girls. Matt Le Cren spoke to Kampschroeder for the Naperville Sun.
- Christie also crossed the 2,000-point mark. (Dick Quagliano/Daily Herald)
- Tayler Berry reached 1,500 points for her career Wednesday in a game against Kansas. https://twitter.com/Shiloh_School/status/1365312198000713731?s=20
- Indian Creek Brook Heiman became the leading scorer in program history.
- Burlington Central senior Elana Wells scored her 1,500th career point. (Jacob Bartelson/Kane County Chronicle)
- Stevenson junior Simone Sawyer scored her 1,000th career point and is now in the top 10 in program history. (Dion Martorano/Journal & Topics)
- Edwardsville junior Sydney Harris scored her 1,000th career point. (Dan Brannan/River Bender)
- Central Catholic’s JT Welch scored his 1,000th career point. (Randy Reinhardt/The Pantagraph)
- Peoria Christian senior Daniel Duncan scored his 1,000th career point.
- DeKalb senior Trenton Kyler scored his 1,000th career point. (Eddie Carifio/Daily Chronicle)
- Pawnee senior Connor Hennemann scored his 1,000th career point. (The State Register-Journal)
- Edwardsville senior Brennan Weller scored his 1,000th career point. (Colin Feeney/River Bender)
- LaSalle-Peru senior Drake Weber scored his 1,000th career point. (J.T. Pedelty/Shaw Media)
- Roanoke-Benson senior Luke Braman scored his 1,000th career point.
- Southwestern senior Addis Moore scored his 1,000th career point, moving into seventh place all-time in program history. (River Bender)
- Calhoun’s Ben Eberlin scored his 1,000th career point.
- United’s Declan Flynn scored his 1,000th career point.
- Central’s Jacob Shoven scored his 1,000th career point.
- Springfield Southeast’s James Dent scored his 1,000th career point.
- Agape Christian senior Johnathan Daly scored his 1,000th career point.
- Tri-Point’s Connor Cardenas scored his 1,000th career point.
- Johnston City’s Austin Brown scored his 1,000th career point.
- Olympia’s Ethan Davis scored a program-record 42 points in a game. (Randy Kindred/The Pantagraph)
- Georgia Ballard with 6 points in succcession in a cool way to get to 1,000 points.
- Kobe Reed recorded the first triple-double in Plainfield East boys history.
- Amboy’s Mallory Powers went over 1,000 points in a Feb. 23 game against rival Eastland.
- Lexie Niebrugge scored her 1,000th point, becoming the 12th player in program history to reach that milestone.
- Tri-Point’s Connor Cardenas registered his 1,000th point in a 29-point effort.
- Pekin’s Taylor Goss scored her 1000th point Saturday.
- Beau Stipp reached 1,000 points for Mt. Carmel.
- Josh Harris scored his 1,000th point for Timothy Christian.
- Margaret Temple hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for Benet to knock off Marist in overtime.
- Clinton’s Josh Williams won his 200th game as head coach of the girls basketball team for the Maroons.
- Cobden’s Wendell Wheeler earned his 400th win as coach of the Appleknockers boys basketball team.
- Harrisburg boys coach Randy Smithpeters won his 500th game Friday.
- Jason Raymond won his 100th game as Saint Viator’s girls head coach.
- Prospect’s Owen Schneider hit a game-winner just before the buzzer to hand Schaumburg a 34-32 defeat.
- Batavia’s Trent Tousana hit a shot at the buzzer to defeat St. Charles North on the road Saturday, Feb. 27. Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Jake Bartelson caught the shot on camera in a periscope video.
- Belleville East’s Ethyn Brown hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to defeat Edwardsville and keep the Lancers undefeated.
- Beecher edged Donovan with a Mitch Landis 3-pointer at the buzzer on Friday.
- Niles Notre Dame’s Troy D’Amico tipped in a shot at the buzzer to defeat Benet.
- Okawville with a steal and a layup in the waning moments in a win over Columbia.
Led by a consistent senior and a crew of talented underclassmen, Agape Christian is off to a hot start in a rapidly moving season.
The Knights visited Meridian, a school it had never defeated and pulled out a dominant 89-64 victory on Saturday to move to 5-1 on the season.
“It’s very nice to have a shooting guard like Nick (Ucci) or a big post man like Nathan (Kaufman),” Agape Christian senior Johnathon Daly said. “They’re very efficient. We just kind of analyze teams and we just see how strong they are in the paint or their guards.”
“We are very young and it gives us a lot of hope for the future,” assistant coach Clayton Reed said. “We’re efficient because we feed off each other and our pace is getting a lot better.”
- Daly used his smooth jumper and ability to get to the free-throw line to score 29 points, going 7-of-14 from the floor with a trio of three-pointers. He also had seven assists. Kaufman and Daly work well off one another, feeding each other for several of their buckets. Kaufman posted a line of 21 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.
For context, Bucky Dent at The Southern in Carbondale had this to say about Agape Christian coming into this season.
“The Knights should be decent, returning two good starters off a 14-12 team. The marquee name is 5-11 junior Johnathan Daly, who pumped in 15 points per game while finding time to grab five rebounds. Six-three sophomore Nathan Kaufman averaged a double-double (12 ppg, 11 rebounds) and also rejected 1.5 shots per game.
One thing to watch is that Agape Christian is one of four conference schools with a new coach at the helm in Danny Stevens. Can they get used to him, and vice-versa, in a mini-season like this one?”
- Agape Christian stretched its lead to 31-18 before the Bobcats got going in transition for some easy baskets. The Knights’ offensive efficiency kept Meridian from getting out on the break for much of the second quarter.
“They have a full-court press that’s pretty tough to beat,” Daly said. “But once you slow down the pace more you can control the game. A team like Meridian… they’re very athletic, very fast-paced. They want to control the game. If you can control that pace you can throw them off. We got some layups on some nice back-cuts.”
- Meridian’s athleticism and relentlessness yielded some second-chance points to keep things close. The Bobcats’ aggressiveness on the defensive end also put several of its players in foul trouble in the second quarter, allowing Agape Christian to stretch its lead out from its 15-14 advantage after a quarter. “We’ve got a couple really good shooters and you know how it is,” Reed said. “Anytime you start hitting threes or you start hitting any kind of jumper it keeps rolling and your momentum goes up. Nick Ucci will hit a three, but as soon as he hits a three, it goes to Johnathan Daly. These guys are getting their rhythm down and they feed off each other.”
- Kaufman, who recently scored 50 points in a win over Crab Orchard, was lauded by Reed for his attitude and potential. “His potential is through the roof. We’ve seen that. Even in junior high, he was dominant. We competed in the state championship down here and he’s just a really good player. He has a really really good head on his shoulders and he’s a play-hard dude. He wants to win.” That 50-point outburst tied a school record set by 2019 graduate and current Knights assistant Matthew Keller, who also played with Reed. Daly noted that he learned a lot from those players when he was a freshman, and now with them as coaches and wants to share small lessons with his younger teammates.
- Cameron Davis, after dealing with foul trouble in the second quarter, scored the first two buckets of the second half, showcasing his quickness and finesse in the process. But foul trouble plagued him as he finished with 9 points. Roderick Gatewood scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half for the Bobcats.
- Freshman Anthony Ucci played like a prototypical glue guy throughout the night, using his bigger frame to his advantage around the hoop, scoring six points and grabbing rebounds. His brother Nick, also a freshman, scored 19 and added 5 rebounds. Issac Goldman contributed 10 points.
- Meridian’s Te’Kevon Williford (13 points) and Tristen Mackins (team-high 14 points) looked like the best players on the floor in brief flashes, but it wasn’t sustained for the Bobcats. Meridian was at its best attacking the hoop, especially after Agape Christian misses. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, the Knights were efficient Saturday, scoring 27 in the second quarter, 21 in the third and 26 in the fourth. Tim Weaver was previously the coach for the Knights, who Reed played for. Reed is the JV coach and is coaching under Danny Stevens, who is in his frst year at the helm of the Knights.