By Kaleb Carter
RIVER FOREST — Sophie Swanson can catch fire at a moment’s notice. When the ball is anywhere within 30 feet of the basket, she’s the prime threat on the floor to score.
The junior and Purdue commit honed the consistency of her shot over countless hours in the gym, developing a nearly-instant release in part against strong travel ball competition with Wolverinas AAU.
“I’ve always naturally had a quick release,” Sophie Swanson said. “Especially with AAU and the high level that we play at. With all of that and the competition …you just can’t have a slow release … I get it off quick and it falls.”
Committed.— Sophie Swanson (@sophieswanson31) January 19, 2022
Huge thank you to my family, @wolverinasbb, @bhsfilliesbball and everyone who has helped me navigate this process. I would not be in this position without the help of Coach Kipley and Coach Barreiro. I am so excited to announce my commitment to @PurdueWBB! #boilerup pic.twitter.com/xqFWHqyWDp
That quick release has netted her games with scoring totals this season of 40 (a school record), 36, 33 and 32 — the final total in a recent win over Libertyville at the Midwest Hoops Spotlight Invitational at Trinity High School.
She picked up her offer from Purdue on an official visit on Oct. 23 and committed on Jan. 19. In between, Swanson reached 1,000 career points on Jan. 11 in an MSL West win over Conant.
“They started recruiting me in September, offered in October on my first visit there,” Swanson said. “I took another visit in January where I watched them play IU and I just knew I wanted to commit. I loved everything about the school. The coaches, the fan base they have, the way they play, it all fit what I want. And they have a new coach so being a part of that era, I know it’s gonna be special.”
With a Division III Illinois Wesleyan signee in Laura Mahlum, a sophomore forward with a Loyola offer in Molly O’Riordan and a do-it-all player in Gwen Adler, the Fillies have sorted themselves out. That has led to a win streak that reached 12 games after Barrington defeated Conant Wednesday.
So excited to announce that I have received my first offer from @RamblersWBB during my visit today!! BIG thank you to @CoachAchter_LU @_maggielyon @ArmeliaHorton @CShelwick @wolverinasbb @bhsfilliesbball pic.twitter.com/frWaovCPYx— Molly O’Riordan (@mollyoriordan35) January 23, 2022
Four of Barrington’s five losses have come to teams ranked higher in the Illinois-Basketball.com Top 25 rankings, including two losses to No. 1 Stevenson by a combined 13 points. The other is to Fremd, which the Fillies avenged recently, 62-47, as Swanson scored a program-record 40 points.
“Even though you have a dynamic scorer like Sophie, it still takes all of us,” Barrington coach Babbi Barreiro said. “The kids are settling into all of those roles.”
Swanson concurred with the sentiment, saying things have been exciting through the recent win streak and with great home-game environments.
“We’ve been playing really well as a team lately,” Swanson said. “Everyone’s settling into their roles and we’re really coming together as a team.”
Adler in particular played gutsy ball in a 61-45 win over Libertyville with 10 points and 12 rebounds. It’s a departure from the role she plays in the offseason with her travel squad, but she fills her role with the 23-5 Fillies.
Fun day of hoops Saturday at the @MHS_Girls_ Invite— Kaleb Carter (@Kaleb_M_Carter) January 31, 2022
-@LWWAthletics knocks @SycamoreHoops from ranks of the unbeaten
-@SHS_girlshoops wins massive battle with @BleedGbb
-@sophieswanson31 scores 21 in the 4th vs. @Lvillegbb https://t.co/o74VvWRIBr
“You’ve got Gwen Adler who is getting rebounds and playing defense and scoring when she needs to,” Barreiro said. “Then you’ve got Molly [O’Riordan] inside who can score. And you’ve got Lauren Mahlum who can score when you need her to, and we’ve got Allison Funk and Gracie Stagnito who are hitting the shots that they need to when they need to.”
So it’s safe to say, the Fillies are getting things together at the right time.
“We’re really coming together as a team,” Swanson said. “If we keep up the play, we’re looking to make it pretty far in the playoffs.”