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 16, unless otherwise noted.
In the last week, the Rockets defeated Salem (55-19), Red Bud (60-18) and Greenville (51-35) to move to 21-0 and remain one of the last unbeaten squads in the state.
The 1A program — with a student population of 175.5 in the last two-year class cycle enrollment figures — has taken on all comers for years. This season, the Rockets have ripped off wins over strong 3A and even 4A programs.
The Rockets start two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore.
Senior starters: Raegan Luechtefeld and Sydney Tebbe
Junior starters: Briley Rhodes and Megan Renagarbe
Sophomore starter: Alayna Kraus
“We have a lot of sophomores that come in as subs and a couple juniors, but I will say this; one is down and another will pick it up,” head coach Michelle Hasheider-Burianek said. “I will say this, another one is going to pick it up. We play defense. That’s what we hang our hat on. We like to play defense.”
In a span of 10 days that stretched from the end of 2021 to the first week of January, Okawville defeated Highland, Freeburg (twice), O’Fallon and Alton. O’Fallon, a school with 2,436 in its listed enrollment, has several potential Division I-caliber prospects. The same can be said of Alton. During that stretch, Freeburg was the smallest at 654.
The Rockets will once again square off with O’Fallon on Wednesday, already owning a 58-57 victory over the Panthers. Since that O’Fallon loss to Okawville, the Panthers have won seven straight games, including a 30-point win over previously-unbeaten Quincy Notre Dame.
All of this is to point out how remarkable it is that a school of Okawville’s size is wearing bigger schools down with defense and fundamentals.
“You know they’re going to give you everything they’ve got,” Hasheider-Burianek said. “You don’t know if the shot is going to go down or not. But that’s one thing that’s great about these kids, they’re going to give it their best shot and the good lord has been on our side. The shots have fallen, we’ve played good basketball and taken care of the basketball. Usually when you do that, good things will happen.”
After the remarkable, aforementioned stretch of wins, Okawville went into another big matchup with Carlyle, which was 16-2 at the time and had beaten some strong 1A and 2A programs. Okawville led that game 36-2 at halftime in a 59-24 rout, and is now 6-0 in the Cahokia Conference.
“We’re always looking at things we can improve upon,” Hasheide-Buriaek said. “There’s always a screen we’re not guarding the right way or looking at things to improve on. Those kids want to know what they need to do better. That’s what makes this team good.”
Even in the Rockets’ two state-title winning seasons (1993-94 and 1999-2000), Okawville didn’t have a perfect, unbeaten record. Not that the Rockets weren’t full of accolades those seasons, as Hasheider-Burianek won the Ms. Basketball award as a junior in the first championship season.
Coach Hasheider-Burianek’s family has dealt with their own problems during the past few seasons. She has experienced cancer and rigorous chemotherapy in recent years, as detailed in this story by the St. Louis Dispatch. Her son, Kyan, has had two procedures done recently to have a brain shunt failure corrected.
“God took care of us, we’re good,” Hasheider-Burianek said.
Basketball offers reprieve for her family and certainly for the coach, who sees the game as plainly as clearly as any other.
“Everybody tells me they’re fun to watch,” Hasheider-Burianek said of her team.
“They’re learned how to play the game, keep understanding it more and more,” she continued. “I’m sure we’re going to have our hiccups in the road yet, but we’ve just got to keep plugging along. We’re just trying to make a run near the end.”
Improved to 17-2 and hadn’t lost since the first week of December.
Handed River Ridge/Scales Mound its first loss of the season (45-37); also beat St. Bede (68-22) and Harlem (54-27).
Galena sophomore Addie Hefel scored 19 to lead her team in the win over RR/SM.
Defeated Mattoon (65-54) and Galesburg (47-41). It was the first time in three games against the Green Wave this year that Lincoln came out on top.
Improved to 17-2 after the week. Kloe Froebe had 35 points, 12 rebounds, 10 steals and 8 assists in the win over Mattoon.
Won convincingly over Joliet Central (53-34), Romeoville (59-48) and Argo (65-47).
Jalyn Patterson scored 25 in the win over Romeoville and 18 in the victory over Joliet Central. Lexi Salazar has been another crucial scorer for the Tigers, who improved to 13-5.
Wins over Cobden (61-24) and Hardin County (59-40).
Trinity Taber scored 23 in the win over Hardin County, and Shelby Hogg had 18 in the win over Cobden.
Ended Kelly’s 25-game win streak with a 47-41 overtime win.
Also grabbed wins during the week over Hubbard (44-24) and Kennedy (61-10).
Record improved to 21-1 after wins over Carlinville (73-14) and Hillsboro (69-26).
Jillian Hamilton’s 22 points led Pana in the Hillsboro win.
Gave Fieldcrest its first loss of the season, 48-44. Also defeated Lexington 51-37 and junior Ellie Cahill reached 1,000 career points. The Hornets are undefeated in the Heart of Illinois Conference.
Eureka’s Ellie Cahill scores 1,000th point tonight- terrific player and just a junior pic.twitter.com/QWXpyaegp2— Jim Mattson (@hoijim) January 14, 2022
After playing strong teams and getting beat around at times in non-conference play, Beecher is rolling through league play with 10 wins without a loss in the River Valley.
Beat Momence (45-14), Grant Park (62-34) and Herscher (52-33).
Beecher improves to 11-8 with a 62-34 win over Grant Park.— Beecher Girls Basketball (@beecherGBB) January 14, 2022
Shepard 32 pts (career high) 3 ast
Saller 12 pts 8 reb
McDermott 9 pts 2 ast
S Bonham 5 pts
Stluka 4 pts
Beat Centennial and Illinois Valley Central, and gave Class 2A top-ranked Winnebago its first loss. The Irish are 17-1, 5-0 in the Big Twelve.
Had scoring totals of 31, 30 (versus Wethersfield) and 16 during the week.
Scored 17 versus Dundee-Crown, 22 versus Crystal Lake Central and 20 against Rolling Meadows, all wins.
So proud of our girls as they beat a very good Rolling Meadows team 50-32. @emilylukowskii with 20, Scharrenburg with 12, Nordin with 7.— CG Girls Basketball (@CaryGroveGBB) January 15, 2022
That's program all time win number 799!
Thompson, who has Tigers undefeated in Southwest Prairie play, scored 31 in a win over Plainfield South.
Notched 29 in a win over Oswego East. Put up 20 in a win over Oswego.
Scored 22 points with 17 rebounds in a 61-36 win over Sandburg.
Scored 15 in a win over Lincoln Way-Central.
Put up 25 points in a 49-43 win over Jefferson, and 14 in a 50-20 win over Rockford East
The 6-4 forward had 24 points and 24 rebounds in a loss to Rock Island.
Put up scoring totals of 23, 20, 16 and 15. Made five three-pointers in a 51-46 loss to Rosary.
The same week she committed to Illinois Wesleyan for basketball and soccer, White put up scoring totals of 20, 18 and 15.
So proud of Sawyer White @sawyer_white2 and all she has accomplished @MontiniCatholic and will continue to accomplish at IWU! @IWUWomensBball Not many people can say that they are a multi-sport college athlete 🏀⚽️ #stud #proud https://t.co/ocFWcLGetm— LadyBroncoBasketball (@MontiniGirlsBsk) January 10, 2022