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.
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.
.@ThomasKelly_HS girls 🏀 finishes conference season with 2 W’s. Varsity finished up season with a W over Solorio 47-11. 17-1 overall 8-1 in conference. JV knocks off Solorio 44-2. 10-1 overall 5-1 in conference. pic.twitter.com/KhvllZTsxF— KCP Girls 🏀 (@GirlsKcp) January 22, 2022
“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.”
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.
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.
The Lady’s Warriors was back at full strength last night & pick up a big conf win over @TaftChicago_GBB 57-40. The team was lead in scoring by @JacksonJamilah 30pts 5st @Monxdior 14pts 7reb & @D_cox12 12pts 11reb. #WarriorPride— GWCP Lady Warriors Basketball (@GWCP_GirlsBBall) January 19, 2022
Wins over Lake Zurich (34-29), Zion-Benton (71-27) and Willowbrook (58-51).
Varsity final: Libertyville 71 - Zion 27. A triple double for Emily Fisher! 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Freshman Madison Sears kicked in 12, and Emily Dillon had 10. Next up: Friday vs Lake Zurich. pic.twitter.com/7G4qgsGhGL— Libertyville Girls Basketball (@Lvillegbb) January 20, 2022
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.
The Fieldcrest girls basketball team still has a lot to prove this season. But a first-ever HOI tournament championship and a redeeming victory over Eureka make for a sweet week for @FHS_LadyKnights.— Matt McClain (@MattMcClain3) January 24, 2022
STORY: https://t.co/cXpxeqnu7x pic.twitter.com/Nppnpo3QWb
Rolled to four wins, most notably over Galesburg and Lincoln. The Lions move to 19-3 and remain undefeated in the Big Twelve.
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.
Beat Springfield Southeast, 53-37, and Central State Eight-leader Springfield, 47-46. Won city championship.
SHG wins it 47-46 over Springfield on a last second shot by Cheresse Mitchell— Robert Fagg (@BobbySports1450) January 23, 2022
"Everyone put their heart on the line for this game.”— SJ-R Sports (@SJRsports) January 23, 2022
Then Cheresse Mitchell put one in the net. https://t.co/grMwjDl85L
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.
Has not lost since December. Wins over Decatur Lutheran (59-17), Cumberland (62-58) and two-loss ALAH (48-33).
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.
Scored 30 points in a 56-46 win over Hinsdale Central.
Congratulations to ILLINOIS ELITE 5’9 Wing MARIANN BLASS of York High School who scored a Career High 30 Points in leading York to a 56-46 Win over Hinsdale Central High School . Mariann is a True Baller who gives 150 % every time she is on the floor on both ends. pic.twitter.com/uRrRP9j1vq— ILLINOIS ELITE (@ILLINOISELITE1) January 23, 2022
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.
Put up a program-record 40 points in a 62-47 win over Fremd.
Also had 18 points in a win over Hoffman Estates.
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.
Scored 38 points versus Westlake Christian. Averaging over 26 points per game this season according to MaxPreps.
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.
Posted 16 in a 53-22 win against Greenville.
Scored 27 points in a 77-51 win over Vandalia.
#annies got it done tonight w/ a 77-51 #dub over #vandalia. @kaleiedson w 27.Aliyah Rush w 21.@rylee_edson w 11. JaLea Shered w 9. @jasaiwallace w 8. Lily Biegeleisen w 1.— Centralia Women’s Basketball (@centraliawbb) January 20, 2022
Annies are back @ the vandy tourny tmw vs #greenville. #spreadthewealth #annienation #annieup #letsgoannies
Had 31 points in a loss to Batavia.
Posted 17 points in a 44-42 victory over Mother McAuley.
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.
Now owns a school-record with a 43-point game in a win over Urbana.
Scored 25 as Mattoon defeated MacArthur.
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.
Tournament all tourney teams Highland Tournament— Southern Illinois Hawks Elite (@HawksSi) January 23, 2022
2023 PG Aubree Wallace was MVP (CM)
2023 G Olivia Durbin (CM)
2023 G Briley Rhodes (Okawville)
2024 PG Alayna Kraus (Okawville)
2023 G/F Sophia Loden (Mascoutah) was MVP and top scorer in the tournament pic.twitter.com/zAkvWGyGQS
I literally have the best friends ever @_natalieee12 @NorahGum @HawksSi pic.twitter.com/Sr3UaDBOjy— Sophia Loden (@soap_paige) January 17, 2022