Lake Zurich Exam Jamm Notebook: Winnebago’s Brown inspires awe; Kerstein plays with IQ beyond-her-years

Lake Zurich Exam Jamm Notebook: Winnebago’s Brown inspires awe; Kerstein plays with IQ beyond-her-years

By Kaleb Carter

Winnebago took on an early season challenge in Lake Zurich’s 2021 Exam Jamm Tuesday. Miyah Brown paced a plenty-ready Winnebago team.

Brown, a 5-10 senior guard, was named Player of the Game with 12 points. She affected Rolling Meadows immensely with her defense in a 41-39 Winnebago win.

“She’s been an all-stater since (she was) a freshman,” Winnebago coach Judy Krause said. “She certainly leads. We’ve done really well before her and the last couple years she’s been with us, she’s an important contributor.”

One of the lone-remaining unbeaten 2A squads in the state, Winnebago typically has no trouble scoring. It has now scored just 41 points in each of its last two games, its lowest total of the season. Brown and her Winnebago teammates have lit up the scoreboard for 84, 80 and 71 points in other games this season and are now 8-0.

Rolling Meadows — thanks largely to 22 points on six three-pointers by senior guard Emily Galvan — gave Winnebago its best test of the season. Some late turnovers allowed Rolling Meadows (5-4) to whittle down the lead to a single point late — 37-36 — before the winners sank timely free throws, including three from Renee Rittmeyer.

“Just because the competition was so high so I think it really brought out the best in our team,” Brown said. “We usually play teams that aren’t as strong, so playing a really strong team, it showed our placement.”

Brown is excited about signing with a newly-minted Division I program in Bellarmine. Fellow Illinois native Haley Stoklosa of New Lenox (Lincoln-Way Central) and Moline grad Bralee Trice are currently with the program. At this point in the season and with a college decision in the rear view, Brown is less worried about scoring and more thinking about how to pick up teammates.

“If they’re stuck, I want to come help them,” Brown said. “If they have questions I want to answer them. I just want to be the energy on the court.”

And while she wants to be active in her teammates’ success, others can’t help but stop and stare at her ability.

“She’s very versatile,” Krause said. “She can play in a couple different positions. And I think her God-given athletic ability certainly is something I think people respect and (are) in awe over. She’s put a lot of hard work in, and it has paid off for her.”

Deerfield’s Nikki Kerstein has stellar IQ

Nikki Kerstein has played against upperclassmen high school players since she started middle school. Adjusting to the varsity level for the Deerfield freshman has required little actual adjusting.

Tuesday, Kerstein scored 19 points, ripped off steals and assists, and made heads-up plays far beyond her years. As a result. Deerfield roared out to a 47-19 halftime lead in an 82-60 win over Simeon. Kerstein hit five three-pointers in the first-half alone.

Older sister Lexi, a junior, was on the receiving end of several fast-break layup assists from Nikki and other Warrior teammates.

“We play really well together,” Nikki Kerstein said. “Our chemistry was great. As guards … we’re able to push the ball really well and everybody had great chemistry that we’re able to move the ball around to get shots.”

Time and again the Warriors stole the ball from a hurried Simeon squad, whether it came in the half-court or when the Wolverines were trying to run in transition. Extra, timely passes led to easy buckets. Lexi Kerstein scored a team-high 25, largely on transition layups. Freshman guard Aubrey Galvan scored 21 points. Warriors junior forward Olivia Kerndt scored all 11 of her points in the first half.

“Having great IQ, it makes us get easier shots,” Nikki Kerstein said. “We have a lot of easy little buckets instead of having to work so hard for different shots. Growing up all together and playing together has helped so much.”

Nakia Bardney, one of the city of Chicago’s better senior basketball players, scored a game-high 27 for 2-4 Simeon, with 15 points and three triples in the second half. Junior guard Laurel Jackson scored 12 points.

The 7-1 Warriors feature just one senior on the roster and stand to be one of the state’s most dangerous teams soon.

“I’ve pretty much played my entire life,” Nikki Kerstein said. “I’ve played with my sister who is two years older and I’ve played against seniors since pretty much when I was in middle school. So I’ve been used to it and I’m comfortable now.”

And after the dominant win over a traditional city powerhouse, Nikki Kerstein must be aware that she belongs among the best of the best.

“We can beat any team if we’re playing the way we should be playing,” she said.

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 3

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 3

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.

Notable Week 3 Team Performances

Spotlight: St. Charles East

Sitting at 7-0, the Saints have opened more than a few eyes in the early going of the season. The Saints defeated Lake Park on the road (55-47) and Waubonsie Valley (46-39). Senior Torrie Kortan continues to impress for one of the more increasingly buzz-worthy teams in the suburbs.

The Saints own impressive wins over the likes of York, Fremd and St. Charles North.

Mother McAuley

Continuing to face an early season gauntlet, the Mighty Macs grabbed road wins over Sandburg (48-39) and St. Ignatius (59-49).

Bella Finnegan put up huge stat lines in those wins:

  • 26 points, 12 rebounds versus Sandburg
  • 16 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists versus St. Ignatius

Batavia

Earned hard-fought wins at Lake Park (59-46) and against Butler College Prep (57-54), the latter in Fremd’s Chicagoland Invitational Showcase. They were undefeated before Monday’s game.

Sycamore

The Spartans now own one of the better victories in the state this season, a 46-38 road win at Nazareth Academy. Sycamore also soared to wins over Sandwich (60-14) and Rolling Meadows (58-45).

Paris

At 5-1 following last week’s games, the Tigers’ lone loss is to a team from Indiana. The Tigers lit up the scoreboard in an 84-32 win over Newton. A 50-41 win over St. Joseph-Ogden the week prior shows how real the Tigers are.

Senior guard Kate Littleton scored 28 in the win over Newton and is one part of one of the best duos in Class 2A with Madyson Rigdon. Littleton also recently signed with Lake Land College.

Hononegah

Picked up strong wins over Harlem (44-36), Jefferson (58-27) and Auburn (43-24).

Normal Community

Upped its record to 7-0 with wins last week over Limestone (58-40), Decatur Eisenhower (56-13) and Collinsville (54-38). Big upcoming game Tuesday night versus Rock Island.

Metamora

Kayla Pacha continues to lead the way and the Redbirds are sitting pretty at 7-0 after a 63-16 win over East Peoria. Also defeated Bloomington 37-28.

Rockford Lutheran

Improved to 6-1 after offensive explosions throughout the week. Defeated Marian Central Catholic (70-60), North Boone (78-24) and East Dubuque (53-41).

Fairfield

Sailed to wins over Wayne City (53-24) and Edwards County (46-24) and owned a 7-1 record after last week.

Notable Week 2 Player Performances

Simone Sawyer, Stevenson, Sr.

Scored 31 in a 69-60 victory over Whitney Young at Fremd’s Chicagoland Invitational Showcase to earn game MVP honors for the Patriots.

Scored 17 in a 51-28 win over Libertyville.

Marley Williamson, Illinois Valley Central, Sr.

Scored 26 in a 56-23 win over Bureau Valley

Nikki Kerstein, Deerfield, Fr.

Scored 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting, added 10 steals, 5 rebounds in a 77-30 win over Vernon Hills. Deerfield led by Kerstein sister duo of Nikki and junior Lexi.

Kammie Ludwig, Geneseo, Sr.

Scored 23 in a win over Rock Island as Geneseo moved to 7-0 on the season.

Put up 24 points in a win over Galesburg.

Megan Senaj, Latin, Jr.

38 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals in a win over Jones.

Kaitlin White, Fieldcrest, So.

23 points, 4 three-pointers made in a win over Tri-Valley.

Tahj-Monet Bloom, Bolingbrook, So.

20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 steals in a statement win over Marist (67-46).

Bloom, a transfer from Grayslake Central, is one of the best sophomores in the state. She has used her 6-3 frame to help lead the Raiders to quickly be one of the best squads in Illinois.

Madison Heisch, Rockridge, Sr.

Scored 26 points, including 8 three-pointers in a 61-21 win over Orion.

Nina Sarros, Hinsdale Central, Sr.

19 points, 19 rebounds versus York.

18 points, 19 rebounds and 4 steals versus Romeoville.

Tykara Harrison Romeoville, Sr.

Posted 28 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in a loss to Hinsdale Central.

Has scored 33, 26, 25 and 22 points in games this season.

Stagnant Offense Undercuts Defensive Effort in St. Ignatius’ Loss to Chaminade

Stagnant Offense Undercuts Defensive Effort in St. Ignatius’ Loss to Chaminade

By Kyle Williams

The start of the season hasn’t gone as planned for the St. Ignatius boys basketball team, including a 46-33 loss to Chaminade (Mo). on Saturday, December 4. 

The Wolfpack — the No. 4 team in the Sun-Times preseason rankings — now stand at 3-4 with losses to Leo, Lake Forest, Chaminade and Loyola over their last five games overall.

The game was a tale of two halves for St. Ignatius at the Chicago Elite Classic.

The Wolfpack’s defensive prowess was on display in the first, as they held the St. Louis powerhouse to 17 points and 28 percent shooting from the field. Both teams were locked in defensively, closing out on shooters hard and making sound rotations.

“I was really proud of our defense overall,” St. Ignatius coach Matt Monroe said. “That’s the best we’ve played defensively, and that’s been an area of focus of ours.”

The St. Ignatius’ offense dried up in the second half; the team went 4-for-18 from the field in the third and fourth quarters. The Wolfpack couldn’t overcome 15 points from Chaminade junior guard Nillivan-Jothan Daniels.

“We got a lot better just during that game,” Monroe said. “And now we’re certainly not satisfied with moral victories or anything like that, but we saw a lot of improvement from our guys in a multitude of ways, especially on the defensive end.”

The best offense for the Wolfpack in the second half came courtesy of senior guard A.J. Redd, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and two assists. Redd is a creative driver when attacking the basket, capable of contorting his body mid-air to account for a contest at the rim. 

“My main strength is getting to the rim and attacking off the dribble,” Redd said.

“I missed a couple — it’s tough in the arena shooting. After that, I decided to cut, get to the rim. And then you saw I got to the free-throw line a couple of times to get me going.”

Redd uses his quickness to help set up his teammates for easy shots. Once his defender is on his hip, Redd surveys the court for his teammates after he draws in the defense. 

“When I see they’re pressing up on me, I might try to make a quick move and get past them, put them on my hip,” Redd said. “That’s when I’m looking for my teammates, and that’s when we get the defense moving.”

The Wolfpack are hoping to use the early season skid to prepare them for conference play and postseason. Their difficult schedule was by design. They know that the team they are now isn’t indicative of the team they can be in March. It’s just about stringing together complete games. 

“We just got to keep putting it together and being … more consistent offensively,” Monroe said. “We just got a little stagnant. We became a little drive-centric and didn’t move the ball as well as we did in the first half.”

Fremd Chicagoland Invitational Showcase Notebook

Fremd Chicagoland Invitational Showcase Notebook

By Kaleb Carter

 

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 59, Maine South 56

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

Hersey 34, Homewood-Flossmoor 26

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

Marian Catholic 39, Oak Forest 38

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 Township 47, Fremd 39

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

Nazareth Academy 54, Peoria 32

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

Batavia 54, Butler College Prep 54

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

Lake Zurich 50, St. Charles North 41

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

Naperville North 60, Barrington 51

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

Carmel Catholic 42, Geneva 36

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

Stevenson 69, Whitney Young 60

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

Other Notes

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.

 

Girls Basketball Top Performances: Week 2

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. You can also DM our site @ILL_HS_Hoops.

Notable Week 2 Team Performances

Spotlight: Peoria Lions

With wins over Dunlap (55-34) and Peoria Notre Dame (64-52) last week, the Lions cemented themselves as a team to be reckoned with in the state. A mighty matchup with Nazareth looms at Fremd’s Chicagoland Invite on Saturday, Dec. 4. 

Junior Denali Craig-Edwards led the undefeated Lions with a triple double of 13 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists in defeating Dunlap. She scored 17 points with 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks in the win over Peoria Notre Dame. Additionally, Aaliyah Guyton continues to be one of the better Class of 2024 guards in the state.

Arthur-Lovington/Atwood-Hammond

Moved to 6-0 after wins over Shelbyville (62-33) and Salt Fork (51-24). 

Claire Seal had 25 points and 19 rebounds in the win over Salt Fork, according to the Champaign News-Gazette.

Effingham

Meredith Schaeffer averaged 17.3 points per game over four games in the Bob Kerans Tournament at Newton, per the Effingham Daily News’ Alex Wallner. The Flaming Hearts defeated Newton (62-16), Vandalia (59-20), Flora (38-30), and Altamont (54-41) last week.

Quincy Notre Dame

Abbey Schreacke (who recently went over 1,000 career points) and Blair Eftink have been leading the way. Last week, Notre Dame defeated Warrenton (Missouri), Althoff Catholic (72-31) and Keokuk (IA, 60-49).

Hamilton County

Won five games during the week to stay unbeaten, with wins over Wayne City (59-14), Herrin (43-37), Edwards County (56-28), Lawrenceville (49-13) and Gallatin County (54-22) to win the Lady Foxes Invitational Tournament. Jayce Wellen led a balanced Foxes team in scoring at 11 points per game (as of Monday), while Carson Belangee and Sydney Downen have been the other steady contributors for the defensive-minded squad. 

Naperville North

Rolled through Oswego (64-21) and West Aurora (66-32). Kenzie Hare scored 20 points in the first half alone of the Oswego win.

Hersey

Finished undefeated in the Bison Classic, winning games last week against Mother McAuley (60-55), Maine South (62-51) and Barrington (51-47). Michigan commit and junior Katy Eidle is leading the way.

Loyola Academy

Defeated Stevenson (56-50) and New Trier (43-25). Defeated the Trevians to win the New Trier/Loyola Thanksgiving Tournament, thanks in large part to Ramblers senior Angelina Giordano’s 17 points. 

Mendon Unity

Cruised through wins over Beardstown (65-27) and Hamilton (67-27), and held off Brown County (57-46). 

Northside (Chicago)

Defeated Ridgewood (42-30) and Niles West (44-37) to improve to 7-0. The Mustangs are surrendering just 21 points per game. 

Notable Week 2 Player Performances

Mia Moore, East Aurora, Jr.

With an uncanny ability to finish with both hands around the bucket, Moore recorded a 43-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in a 62-43 win over Plainfield East.

Emily Pape, Maine South, Sr.

Scored 24 points, had 12 rebounds and 3 steals in a 53-44 win over Buffalo Grove. 

Scored 21 with 11 rebounds in 48-30 loss to Mother McAuley.

Scored 23 in 62-51 loss to Hersey.

Averaged 20 points, 9 rebounds per game in being named Bison Classic All-Tournament Team.

A’Coria Phillips, Meridian (Mounds), Sr.

Scored 33 points on 9-of-19 shooting, including 5 three-pointers, 5 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists in a 51-45 win over Webber. 

Jamilah Jackson, Westinghouse, Fr.

22 points, 6 steals, 4 assists in a 50-18 win over Bulls Prep. 

Named MVP of The Perspectives Turkey Tip-off after averaging 25 ppg.

Amiah Hargrove, Christopher, So.

Scored 25 points in a 55-33 win over Elverado/Zeigler-Royalton.

Was coming off an MVP performance in the Du Quoin Lady Indian Tip-Off Tournament. Was also recently named Orthopedic Center of Southern Illinois Player of the Week for Nov. 15-to-20. 

Eleanor Monyek, Hinsdale Central, Sr.

Put up 23 points in a 46-35 win over St. Ignatius.

Scored a game-high 22 points in a 60-48 loss to Neuqua Valley.

Lauren Miller, Trinity, So.

Scored 21 points with 7 rebounds in a win over Walther Christian.

Had 16 points, 8 rebounds in win against Timothy Christian.

Scored 25 with 15 rebounds versus Thornwood.

Had eight points and eight rebounds vs. Marian Catholic. 

Sara Balli, Lake Park, Sr.

Had a school-record 15-assist game, and tallied 16.4 points, 5.4 assists 3.2 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game to lead the Lancers to the Hoffman Estates tourney title.

Was named MVP of the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament.

Taylor Curry, Waubonsie Valley, Jr.

Had 31 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and made 15-of-18 free throws in an 83-70 win over Romeoville. Made the All-Tournament team for the War-Hawk Tournament. 

Grace Nelson, Altamont, So.

Scored 31 in a loss to Effingham in the Bob Kerans Tournament at Newton, her third 30-plus point game of the season.

Averaged 31.5 points, 7 rebounds, 8 steals per game during the tournament. 

Has a 42-point, 8-rebound, 7-steal game to her name this season.

Glenbrook South still looking to improve despite victory over Lake Forest

For the Glenbrook South varsity boys’ basketball team, expectations have been set. 

This is a Titans team that believes it has the makeup to compete for a state championship this season. So even though Glenbrook South (5-0) convincingly defeated Lake Forest, 71-54, inside the Titan Dome for its first home game of the season, the takeaway was how the team could still make improvements. 

And it starts with playing better team defense on back cuts and limiting ball watching. So, what needs to be done to address those areas?

“We are going to watch film, that’s where it starts,” Glenbrook South coach Phil Ralston said. “Were there moments where we played really good defense? Yes, absolutely. … But I think we just have to have our discipline a little bit better. I’m cringing because we gave up 54 points when we are giving up an average of about 40. That’s more than I like to see.”

Going into this matchup with Lake Forest (3-2), the focus was to try and limit one of the best juniors in the state: Asa Thomas. The Titans’ defense limited Thomas — who has several offers from major Division 1 programs, including Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin — to 18 points. Ralston still believed his team could’ve done a better job. 

But there were some aspects about the victory that Ralston did like. 

“The one thing we did really well in this game was our transition was fantastic,” Ralston said. “When they didn’t score, our ability to get down the floor and really attack the rim put them in trouble.”

What also gave the Scouts trouble was the senior duo of Nick Martinelli and Cooper Noard. Martinelli finished with a game-high 25 points and Noard ended with 22 points. At the end of the first quarter, Noard scored 16 points and went 4-of-5 on three-pointers. 

“My teammates were feeding me and I was open and I was knocking them down,” Noard said. “I was just feeling the energy. That was it, and I caught fire.”

Outside of Noard making triples and Martinelli getting to the rim and finishing with his left hand, there were several other Titans, like senior Spencer Brown and junior Gavin Marr, who made key contributions throughout the game. 

“I thought in moments Spencer Brown was fantastic,” Ralston said. “His court awareness, seeing the floor and making the extra pass, things that won’t be in someone else’s stat book, he did very well tonight. … I thought Gavin had a lot of really good transition baskets. When he switched off and he (Marr) was on Asa, he did a fantastic job of knocking passes away.”

Brown finished the game with seven points and Marr added 10 points. For Lake Forest, senior Alex Forowycz finished with a team-high 21 points.

Ralston mentioned that members of this team have stepped up throughout the first five games of the season, and that will have to continue for Friday’s Central Suburban League South matchup against Evanston. 

“We got to make sure everyone is one the same game plan for Friday,” Noard said. “That is the next step.”

Nazareth sophomore Danielle Scully eyes long-term success

Nazareth sophomore Danielle Scully eyes long-term success

By Kaleb Carter

It’s one thing to have a strong class of players leading a basketball program. Most programs can cite a strong class and project how good that group of players will be in the future.

It’s another thing entirely to have the type of player that looks poised to fuel long postseason runs, the likes of which Nazareth Academy should enjoy over the next three years.

Putting 6-1 sophomore Danielle Scully on the floor has the Roadrunners destined for great things right now, too.

“Individually I thought that I had to take over because last year wasn’t really a show-up year for me,” Scully said. “I felt like I had to score more and felt like as a team we had to bond better. I feel like that’s really been helping us win these games, the chemistry.”

Scully’s size at the wing position puts her at a distinct advantage, as does her vision and court IQ.

“She’s a big kid with a strong body,” Nazareth coach Ed Stritzel said. “She’s got a Division I body already, but she can handle it at guard. The problem other opposing coaches have, they put a big kid on her and she out-skills you. If you put a guard on her, she’s good at going to the post she can finish in the post. She can do so many things.”

That ability to handle the basketball — in the open court, in transition, with a defender on her, and in the post — means she’s a threat to score or distribute to one of the Roadrunners’ other threats. Fellow sophomores Olivia Austin (6-1 forward), Amalia Dray (5-8 guard), junior shooter Grace Carstensen (6-0) or senior guard/wing and University of Chicago commit Caroline Workman (6-0) all provide plenty of punch. That keeps defenses from focusing all of their attention on Scully.

While Scully could just be an active post player, that’s not enough for her. Handling the ball and diversifying her game in travel ball with Illinois Lady Lightning helped her gain more confidence controlling possession on the perimeter and off the dribble.

“I’m trying to focus more on not being stuck in the post because I’m one of the taller, bigger girls,” Scully said. “I’ve been working on being able to guard guards and being able to work the guard position and dribble up the floor… and of course shoot.”

A point of emphasis for Sculy, as far as the coaches are concerned, is defensively.

“We keep on her about getting better on the defensive end,” Stritzel said. “We keep telling her ‘Affect the game on both ends. We know you affect the game on offense.’”

In a 50-21 Brenda Whitesell Tournament title game victory over Sandburg, Stritzel said he saw the types of off-ball defense in terms of steals and help defense that could help take her all-around game to another level.

It’ll be a need for Nazareth, which has scheduled a daunting row of non-conference games. The Roadrunners host DeKalb County heavyweight Sycamore, which has size and a Division I commit in Faith Feuerbach. The Roadrunners also play Peoria Central Saturday at Fremd’s Chicagoland Invitational Showcase.

“I want to see us go into these games we have coming up, they’re very hard games and I want to see us take it on with confidence, not go in nervous because we know they’re good teams and I just want to see us destroy them,” Scully said.

Scully, satisfied after the tournament championship, still had her mind on something more.

She had a sly smile on her face when pondering the coming months

“It’s very likely that you will catch us downstate.”

Hinsdale South Tournament Saturday Notebook: Nazareth hyper-prepared; Neuqua Valley’s Washington has Wildcats running

Hinsdale South Tournament Saturday Notebook: Nazareth hyper-prepared; Neuqua Valley’s Washington has Wildcats running

By Kaleb Carter

The Sandburg girls basketball team rolled to the championship game of Hinsdale South’s Brenda Whitesell Thanksgiving Tournament undefeated on the heels of wins over Addison Trail, Hinsdale Central and St. Francis. 

Then they ran into the brick wall that is Nazareth.

The Roadrunners soared to a huge lead, led 33-7 at half, and the game was never in doubt as Nazareth claimed the title game 50-21 to finish 4-0 run at the Whitesell tourney. 

“We’ve been really prepared,” Nazareth 6-1 sophomore Danielle Scully said. “We watched all of their film, we scouted them, we’ve just been really prepared as a team.”

Scully scored 16 points, all in the first half, as Nazareth’s defense fed into transition buckets and frequent looks in the paint for the undefeated Roadrunners. Between feeding teammates the rock, stepping out from the perimeter to sink a shot, driving to the hole and using her big frame to back down overmatched defenders, Scully looked nearly unstoppable in the first half. 

Between a talented 2024 class that features Scully, strong 6-1 forward Olivia Austin and 5-8 guard Amalia Dray (12 points vs. Sandburg), as well as six other sophomores on the varsity roster, there’s a lot of reason to be feeling high about the Roadrunners’ future. 

Senior Caroline Workman brings a steadiness and versatility to the floor that would be crucial in the postseason, and Grace Carstensen sank three three-pointers in the victory over Sandburg. Carstensen also scored 22 points vs. St. Edward and 17 vs. Neuqua Valley. 

“Our routine at Nazareth is we stay quiet, we just play on the court,” coach Ed Stritzel said. “We feel we have an amazing group of 2024s. They’re just sensational. Grace Carstensen, our junior, can shoot the hell out of it. We can spread the floor, we have great shooters that spread it and then we have a really strong inside game with Scully, (Caroline) Workman and Olivia Austin. So I feel we have a lot of different pieces and we can play a lot of different styles.”

The defense jump-started it all, and between playing a pressuring man-to-man, an extended zone, a laid-back zone and other deviations from those looks, the Roadrunners seek to make defensive success their identity. Between the four games, the Roadrunners yielded just 73 points (final scores: 66-9 vs. St. Edward; 43-11 vs. Neuqua Valley; 66-32 vs. Stagg; 21 50-21 vs.Sandburg).  

“We’re a really dynamic team,” Stritzel said. “We can put people a lot of difficult spots with multiple defenses. Our defense is our calling card. We’re fast, athletic and long. We knew Sandburg had some shooters … We thought our girls did a really good job of knowing where they were on the court all the time.

“We’re a very fast, athletic team, and we like to play up style,” he added. “We don’t have to press in the full court, we do a lot of stuff in the half court and it causes teams a lot of problems.”

Sandburg

The Eagles, fresh off single-digit victories over Hinsdale Central (41-37) and St. Francis (43-39), started their season with a 67-25 win over Addison Trail. 

Josie Cannellis, Charlotte Trunk and Erin O’Connor have been providing steady play this season but didn’t find their footing against Nazareth. The Eagles found a spark in 5-8 senior guard Danielle Antoine, who created off the dribble and kept the energy up in the second half for Sandburg against Nazareth.

Neuqua Valley

Neuqua Valley has had to adjust on the fly and change gears early this season.

An injury to 6-0 junior forward Tia Poulakidas forced the Wildcats to get out in transition over the next few games of the Whitesell tournament.

“We started off on a great note the first game, and then our big center Tia went down, so playing Nazareth was a tough call,” Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams said. “Really no time to prepare for them. But after that I thought our guard play was phenomenal, our defense has been phenomenal. We’ve just got to figure out ways to (score) and we’ve been doing a lot of that on transition buckets.”

Sophomore guards Caitin Washington and Zoe Navarro got the Wildcats moving, as forcing missed shots and turning Hinsdale Central over paid big dividends in an eventual 60-48 win over the Red Devils Saturday. The Wildcats are now 3-2 with wins over the Red Devils, Plainfield South (64-35) andOrr (57-35), and losses to Nazareth (43-11) and Batavia (63-56, not in tournament).

Washington scored 21 points, showing a comfortability with the ball in her hands, getting downhill with quickness and finding open shooters. Navarro sank three triples and got the Wildcats moving.

“Zoe made a couple of threes, she made some good timely plays for us,” Washington said. “Shannon Gillispie (a 5-11 senior forward) got some steals, Kylie got some layups and overall we just fed off each other’s energy.”

Changing up defenses has proven to help the Wildcats get out in transition. Kylee Norkus contributed eight points in the win over the Red Devils and showed some nice ball-handling skills in the half-court and in transition.

Both Washington and Williams stressed how Hoffman and Gillespie have stepped up in during Poulakidas’ absence.

“Our defense has been phenomenal,” Williams said. “We’ve just got to figure out ways to (score) and we’ve been doing a lot of that on transition buckets.

“We’ve had some players like Shannon and Alison (Hoffman, a senior) step up and make some big steals,” Williams added. “It’s been a great team effort. This has been good for us to play without one of our key components and still succeed.”

Washington, who just finds ways to make plays, has a simple attitude about changing up styles and trying different looks on the offensive and defensive end.

“I’m a basketball player man, I just do whatever it takes to win games at the end of the day,” Washington said.

Hinsdale Central

 

Eleanor Monyek said her team showed great improvement at the tail end of last season’s shortened campaign. Now, her squad awaits improved health to see big gains. Some played through pain while others like junior guard Angie Conley missed due to injury.

In the meantime the 6-0 senior forward, who scored 22 points in the loss to the Wildcats, is attempting to push teammates to take advantage of opportunities.

“I think we’ve seen a lot of points where we’ve got younger players that can step up and be big difference-makers,” Monyek said.

She added that there are chances for other players due to injury trouble. Meanwhile, the group of seniors that have largely played together since elementary school will do what they can to lead.

“I think if our younger players want to step up, they can and it’s going to be cool to see what they can do,” Monyek said.

Senior Lanie Randle scored eight points versus Neuqua Valley. Big senior forward Nina Sarros added six points while battling knee trouble.

“I think for us it’s just getting everybody back and healthy seeing where we stand … getting everybody all the pieces back up and running will give us more of a feeling where they’re at,” Hinsdale Central coach Karen Persinger said.

Finding that offensive consistency will be key, as the Red Devils struggled with some turnovers and perimeter shooting. They did find ways to get the ball to Monyek in the post. Movement without the ball in the half-court offense and flying to loose balls aided the Red Devils in a big way. The Red Devils led 42-41 in the fourth quarter before the Neuqua Valley trio of Washington, Navarro and Norkus stepped up.

“We’ve spent a ton of time on working on our press and our rotation and our communication, making sure that we’re in the right spots and we’re helping each other, cutting and moving,” Persinger said.

Hinsdale Central finished 2-2 at the tournament with wins over Metea Valley and St. Ignatius, also losing to Sandburg. Persinger said that her team still has to find an identity. Monyek believes she knows, at least partially, what that identity looks like.

“Overall I think our identity is we’re just a gritty team and we’re going to keep showcasing that,” Monyek said.

Stagg vs. St. Francis

St. Francis’ defense locked down Stagg in the second half of a 40-38 win, with free throws marking the difference in the game’s final minute.

A Laila Barakat and-one take to the rim gave Stagg its largest lead of the game at 31-18 in the third quarter. But St. Francis immediately followed with an 8-0 run. Dolly Smith, a 5-4 sophomore guard, drilled a crucial three-pointer to pull the Spartans within one, 37-36. Smith later sank two free throws to tie the game at 38-38 (she finished with 13 points, including three threes).

Katie Anne De Craene, a 5-9 senior guard, was fouled with 16.1 seconds left and sank the two deciding free throws. She scored 7 of her 15 points at the charity stripe.

Senior Gail Korbitz, a 6-1 forward who played on the perimeter and in the post, scored a game-high 16 points for Stagg.

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