By Kaleb Carter
We introduced a top-25 rankings mid 2021-22 — a way to analyze how teams stack up across the state, regardless of class.
Kaleb Carter is back to start the 2022-23 season with his top 25. As the season goes, he’ll have teams beyond the top 25 to watch.
Benet is the most put-together team from what we can tell. Lenee Beaumont is an early top candidate for player of the year lists, while Samantha Trimberger should play a bigger role for the Red Wings this season. I’m expecting productive seasons from sis-duo Magdalena and Emilia Sulaski this season as well.
With 2021-22 Illinois-Basketball Girls Player of the Year Sophie Swanson (Purdue commit) returning to lead the state runner-up squad, a state title is well within reach. Molly O’Riordan (a bevy of D-I offers) and Gwen Adler provide quite the punch.
The Dolphins were playing as well as anyone in the state late last year before running into Benet. Skylar Jones, a Missouri commit, leads the way once more. There’s talent all over the floor once more for Young.
The Roadrunners return nearly everyone from the 3A runner-up team. Grace Carstensen should be one of the state’s best shooters, Danielle Scully should be one of the more versatile bigs in the state, Amalia Dray can take over at a moment’s notice and some beyond-their-years freshmen are coming.
After a magical run through the postseason a year ago, the Corsairs looked fluid and dominant in the summer. They’ll likely be more perimeter-oriented as they look to replace the production lost by the graduation of Grace Sullivan.
Not too many teams in the state will have colleges calling about kids on the JV squad, but the Vikings have been so strong in recent years, that has happened. Ella Todd and NIU-bound Maddy Fay can take center stage early.
The Huskies bring back much of the production from a team that won 27 games. Meghan Mrowicki should be back soon from an ACL tear sustained late last season. Katy Eidle is one of the top players in the state.
Angelina Smith and Yahaira Bueno will lead a backcourt that must pick up the slack after the loss of some strong Raiders.
With the skill, size and balance to defeat anyone in the state, Geneva hopes to make its first run back to state since 2018 as Cassidy Arni and Leah Palmer lead.
Signing Day!!📝 We are so proud of you all! Congrats to Rilee, Cassidy, Lisa and Lauren. Thank you to our amazing seniors and our team for showing up and supporting them!🤍 pic.twitter.com/OBB3qLK8HK— GHS Girls Basketball (@GHS_girls_bball) November 11, 2022
Folks are high on the Wildcats, and for good reason. Emily Fisher is one of the state’s best talents, and the team has established talent and other young players who are beginning to emerge.
Denali Craig-Edwards and Aaliyah Guyton lead the Lions’ pack that could step pretty far forward on a state stage.
Shannon Blacher and Victoria Matulevicius will lead.
The brand is strong at Lyons, which will have a fundamentally skilled ball club with shooters and scorers around the perimeter. Look out for Ally Cesarini.
Missouri commit Abbey Schreacke returns to the defending 2A champs. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Raiders with the state’s best record this season.
Even after losing great senior guards, the 4A-defending-champ Patriots will feature perhaps the best defensive frontcourt in the state with Emory Klatt and Kate Arne.
Fire power. The Warriors will bring a frantic pace to the table with a lineup full of future college hoopers that will make them the overwhelming CSL favorites. Lexi Kerstein is a Vermont signee, while Aubrey Galvan and Nikki Kerstein are receiving heavy D-I interest.
The system works. Loyola will find a way to win games any which way you cut it. Paige Engels will do a lot.
Returing talent young and old, O’Fallon has the potential to be the best team south of I-80. Laylah Jackson, Jailah Petty and Shannon Dowell (Illinois State signee) lead the Panthers.
Shooters shoot, and Aubree Wallace and Olivia Durbin did that all the way to the 3A semifinals last year. Both guards are back.
Tasha Barnes should take center stage, while Ariella Henigan should be featured more heavily with the ball in her hands this season after the Broncos lost three D-I players.
With a young but immensely talented core, the Redbirds should take a large leap forward as one of best teams in the southern half of the state — if not the best. Alyssa Lewis, Laila Blakeny, Jarius Powers and Kiyolo Proctor make Alton plenty explosive.
Syracuse commit Alyssa Latham stands ready to dominant while a talented group around her is poised to move the Vikings forward.
Most of those who did the damage for the Bears in their sectional final run last year return. Baylie Parks, Anna Gilberton and Avery Cooper could be front and center.
Someone will need to pick up the scoring slack lost from Kenzie Hare, but Layla Henderson should be quick to the hoop, and the Huskies will reload at other spots..
Mya Wardle needs a bit of help, but the Irish could be a 3A power and compete with Peoria in the Big Twelve.
*Several corrections noted, with players from Naperville North and Peoria Notre Dame.