Saturday’s Chicagoland Invitational Showcase at Fremd High School in Palatine was filled with outstanding talent from much of the suburbs and the city, and pitted some excellent squads against one another. Perhaps we watched some postseason previews.
Of the 13 games, 10 were decided by single digits, giving spectators and college recruiters alike a lively show throughout the day.
Kaleb Carter was in attendance for 10 of the games. Here are some notes from the day.
Neuqua Valley kept senior and Cornell commit Emily Pape (12 points) under wraps early, as all of her scoring came in the second half.
Caitlin Washington and Tia Poulakidas — the latter back from a recent injury — combined for 32 points for Neuqua Valley. The Wildcats were consistent offensively, scoring at least 13 points in each quarter. Between Waubonsie Valley, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley, there should be a lot of fun weeknight basketball this season in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Neuqua Valley MVP: Caitlin Washington, So.: 16 points, 5-of-6 FTs in 4th
Maine South MVP: Meeghan Fahy, So.: 14 points
With no Alyssa Latham for the Vikings, Homwood-Flossmoor found itself stifled on the offensive end in the second half against the Huskies, who sit at No. 1 in the first 4A Associated Press rankings.
Homewood-Flossmoor — No. 7 in the rankings — will be a force in the south suburbs all season, with stifling defense and slowed-down play in the half-court offense.
Megan Mrowicki, Hersey’s Notre Dame soccer commit, is quickly proving to be dynamic on both ends. The Huskies will certainly have to knock down more perimeter shots against athletic zone defenses going forward. Missed shots in the paint were frequent for both squads.
Val Allen’s and Mrowicki’s defense around the rim were huge in the win.
Hersey MVP: Katy Eidle, Jr.: 11 points
H-F MVP: Ana Liese Torian, Jr.: 9 points
Janae Kent tried to take over late, but the efforts of the Marian Catholic defense proved too much to overcome.
Anna Kleszynski got the Spartans going in the fourth quarter, scoring 9 of her 12 points in the period. The Bengals grabbed a 32-30 lead on an Olivia Baxa three-pointer late. Kleszynski and the Spartans responded as Mia Skelton’s steal and layup pushed Marian Catholic ahead 34-32 and freshman guard Alainna Poisson sank a trey for a 37-32 Marian Catholic advantage. Senior forward Zikora Okonkwo’s defense helped slow Oak Forest, before arguably the state’s best junior, Janae Kent, sank two triples in in the final minutes to pull the Bengals within a point, before ultimately falling.
Marian Catholic MVP: Anna Kleszsynki, Sr.: 12 points
Oak Forest MVP: Janae Kent, Jr.: 23 points, three triples and at least two field goals in each quarter
Lyons put its offense into overdrive, attacking the hoop relentlessly in a win over host team Fremd Saturday.
Winona State signee Hailey Markworth, a 5-10 senior guard, said the team’s quickness and aggressiveness is synonymous with its identity and offensive outlook. With the threat of the drive comes the complementary nature of the kick-out pass to open players on the perimeter. No bigger was that than when sophomore guard Elin O’Brien nailed a three-pointer to put Lyons up 40-33 with 5:15 left in the game. Olivia Mezan added 10 points, including two third-quarter triples.
“I think we’re all very unselfish players, but know when to drive and score at the right time, so keep working on making that flow,” Markworth said. “There’s definitely games where we haven’t flowed but games where we have flowed together, those are much more exciting.”
A 57-48 win over Wheaton North on November 27 stands as another big win for Lyons Markworth said the Lions worked hard defensively to prepare for the game. Now 5-1, Lyons Township’s lone loss is to Benet. But the Lyons defense — which held Fremd to eight points or fewer in the second, third and fourth quarters — could prove the backbone for another Western Suburban title.
“We were excited to get back into another game,” Markworth said. “Benet, they have great post players and Fremd does too from watching film. We were excited to work on our post defense and overall team defense.”
Lyons MVP: Hailey Markworth, Sr.: 19 points, 15 points in second half.
Fremd MVP: Nikki Gonnella, Jr.: 10 points
The Roadrunners are experiencing plenty of the highs and lows to start this basketball season right. Sophomore Danielle Scully contributed 15 points for Nazareth. Talented and tall (6-1) senior point guard Denali Craig-Edwards scored all 10 of her points in the second and fourth quarters.
Nazareth MVP: Grace Carstensen, Jr.: 22 points, four first-half three-pointers
Peoria MVP: Aaliyah Guyton, So.: 13 points
In a matchup that featured several future collegiate basketball players, the Bulldogs squeaked out a late win by virtue largely of sophomore guard Brooke Carlson operating under pressure. Carlson, Camille Jackson, Tessa Towers and Xamiya Walton made for a plethora of Division-I talent on the court at once.
Carlson scored 24 points and sank timely free throws, attacking a foul-plagued Lady Lynx team.
“We got down a couple points, we just had to keep working, keep going at them because they were also getting in foul trouble,” Carlson said. “We just had to keep going at them.”
Walton’s hot shooting and the physicality of Butler College Prep’s forwards — partnered with the speed of Illinois signee Jackson (a senior guard who scored 10 points) and other guards off the bench for the Lady Lynx — spelled early trouble for the Bulldogs.
Walton hit a corner three-pointer with 20.3 seconds left in the game to pull the Lady Lynx within a point, but Carlson stepped up to the free throw line and sank both shots.
Wisconsin signee Towers, a senior big, scored 10 points for Batavia, and sophomore guard Kylee Gehrt added 12 for the Bulldogs.
Butler forward Sereniti Adams, a long 6-3 athlete, appears to be another player to watch out for in the city.
Carlson said it was one of the more physical varsity games she’d been part of.
“She’s a really good player,” Carlson said of Walton. ”It’s really fun going back and forth with her. She can drive, she can shoot.”
Batavia improved to 6-1, its lone loss coming to the Morton Lady Potters. The Bulldogs are set for a big test Friday in a road game with undefeated Naperville North. Batavia will be a contender in the DuKane, which is shaping up to be one of the deepest conferences in the state.
Batavia MVP: Brooke Carlson, So.: 24 points
Butler College Prep MVP: Xamiya Walton, So.: 29 points, including 5 3-pointers
The Bears played an enjoyable team brand of basketball that helped them weather a late Stars storm to pull out a good win. Lake Zurich senior guard Anna Gilbertson scored 6 of her 15 points in the fourth. The Bears went 13-for-15 at the free throw line.
Alyssa Hughes had 14 for the Stars.
Lake Zurich MVP: Alayna Soukup, Sr.: 19 points, 10 points in first quarter
St. Charles North MVP: Reagan Sipla, So.: 13 points
Barrington’s Sophie Swanson was unstoppable in the early going, scoring 15 points in the first quarter as the Fillies jumped out to a 20-10 lead. Sophomore Dwen Adler notched 12 points for the Fillies.
Quick 5-8 junior guard Layla Henderson scored 13 points for the Huskies, who improved to 7-0. The Huskies’ best win might be their 70-56 result over Geneva.
Naperville North MVP: Kenzie Hare, Sr.: 18 points
Barrington MVP: Sophie Swanson, Jr.: 33 points, including five three-pointers
Barrington’s Sophie Swanson is absolutely WOWing. Leads the Fillies to a 20-10 lead after a quarter against Naperville North. She alone has 15 points. Every offensive look she gets out of her hand is smooooth. pic.twitter.com/OQaNUFbqc9— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) December 4, 2021
As much fire and energy as Geneva brought to the table, it was difficult to counter the height of Carmel Catholic, led by junior and Michigan State commit Jordan Wood (6-5), senior Bucknell signee Grace Sullivan (6-4) and junior forward Mia Gillis (6-1). Sullivan scored 12 points.
Geneva had the advantage at the guard spots: Sophomore Leah Palmer and junior Cassidy Arni combined for 25 points.
Carmel Catholic MVP: Jordan Wood, Jr.: 16 points, 14 in first half
Geneva MVP: Leah Palmer, So.: 16 points
The Patriots came out of the gates strong and never quite slowed down in a convincing victory over Whitney Young, easily one of the most athletic teams in the state with one of the up-and-coming stars of Illinois High School basketball in Destiny Jackson. As far as her reputation goes, one might as well say she’s arrived after a performance like this one, even in a loss.
Simone Sawyer was locked in from the beginning for Stevenson, hitting three of her four three-pointers in the first half. She added an 11-for-16 performance at the free throw line.
“We knew we all had to be focused, not just me, but everybody,” Sawyer said. “Everybody has a role on the team so we were really proud of ourselves for all locking in. People on the court and on the bench locked in.”
Sophomore post Emory Klatt, a 6-1 forward who can play on the perimeter, scored 20 points for the Patriots.
“Emory is a complete beast,” Sawyer said. “It’s so crazy to think she’s just a sophomore.”
The Dolphins picked up big contributions from Tanila Marshall (16 points) and Skylar Jones (15 points).
Ava Bardic, who recently broke Stevenson’s program record for three-point buckets made, scored 11. The Patriots also had reason to be pleased with the defense of 5-10 sophomore guard Kendell Williams in the win.
Stevenson played with incredible energy, from those on the court, all the way to the end off the bench, as Stevenson coach Ashley Graham won her 200th game.
The Patriots’ lone loss is to Loyola Academy, while the Patriots boast excellent wins over Fenwick, New Trier and now the Dolphins. Sawyer has big goals for her senior season before heading to play basketball and study architecture at Penn.
“To get a really good education academically and athletically is going to be really good for me,” Sawyer said.
Stevenson MVP: Simone Sawyer, Sr.: 31 points
Whitney Young MVP: Destiny Jackson, Fr.: 25 points
Sycamore defeated Rolling Meadows 59-40, with the Spartans senior Faith Feuerbach, a St. Thomas signee, gaining MVP honors with 20 points. Moira Hickey posted 10 and was MVP for the Mustangs.
Morgan Demos (15 points) and Libby Ryan (13 points) were the MVPs in a 50-46 Benet win over Libertyville.
Ryan Wendt (13 points) and Sami Tyler (8 points) were MVPs in a 42-23 Downers Grove North win over Lincoln-Way East.