Taylor Buford Stevenson
At 5 feet 10, the junior likely will play two guard or small forward at the next level. This season, she played where the Patriots needed her, which was mainly in the paint, where she displayed a smooth stroke. "Taylor sort of took one for the team for us," coach Tom Dineen said. "We were very small, and we asked Taylor, defensively, to play the center position. I thought she did a very good job against some much bigger, taller people." A three-year varsity player and first-time team captain, Buford led the 21-game winners in scoring (13.7 points per game), rebounding (8 per game), steals (64) and blocked shots (40). She also shot 71 percent from the stripe. "She worked very hard in the off-season to improve her jump shot and her free-throw shooting," Dineen said. "She had just huge statistical differences from last year to this year. I really couldn't have asked much more out of her this year. She became a more well-rounded player." Buford will head into her senior season with 740 career points.
Morgan Dahlstrom Grayslake Central
Last off-season, when coach Steve Ikenn kept telling college coaches who were interested in the 6-foot-1 center/forward that her game was still getting better, he wasn't just touting his own player. In her fourth varsity season and third as a starter, Dahlstrom took her game to another level. She averaged 20.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, 1.2 assists and 1.4 steals per game in helping the Rams rack up 19 wins. She was named AP all-state (second team), shot 54 percent from the floor and 70 percent from the stripe, and led the squad in scoring 27 times and in rebounding 28 times. "She accomplished all of this while being double- or triple-teamed most of the time," Ikenn said. Dahlstrom scored 20 or more points 17 times, with a high of 29. "Her numbers were not inflated by one or two big scoring games against weaker opponents," Ikenn said. "She was also a very good post defender, team leader and seldom came out of a game." Signed with Southern Indiana, Dahlstrom delivered 1,305 points, 982 rebounds, 197 blocks and 124 steals in her career. She averaged a double-double in each of the last two seasons.
Kendall Detweiler Grayslake North
All of 5 feet 5, she leaves gigantic high-tops to fill. A four-year varsity player and two-time all-area choice, she saved her best season for last, leading the repeat Fox Valley Fox champs by averaging a team-best 18.6 points per game (school-record 559 points). She sank 61 3-pointers, while also averaging 2.2 assists and 3.1 steals. Her 92 steals were also a team record."Kendall found ways to change games throughout the season on both ends of the court," coach Nate Flannery said, "even when opponents knew of her abilities and tried different defensive tactics to try and stop her." Detweiler became the school's all-time leading scorer this season, finishing her career with 1,361 points to go along 189 3-pointers and 214 steals. In the last three seasons, she helped the Knights go 67-23. "She has been a leader both on and off the court for this program since her freshman year," Flannery said, "and she will be greatly missed."
Kathleen Felicelli Carmel
Coach Kelly Perz called the senior guard "the muscle of our team." Felicelli's third varsity season? Call it ferociously strong. The three-sport star led the sectional-champion Corsairs in scoring at 16 points per game, while also being a force on the defensive end. She also averaged 6 rebounds and 3 steals per game, and scored a season-high 25 points in helping the Corsairs close out the regular season with their 20th win. "She was so solid for us," Perz said. "Night in and night out, we could just depend on her to do the little things on defense and score." A repeat all-area selection, Felicelli finished her career with 1,067 points.
Paige Gallimore Antioch
A year ago, she was playing the point. This season, she piled up points. The most prolific scorer in Lake County this season, the 5-foot-6 senior guard averaged 23.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.4 steals per game. She ranked second on the team in rebounds, assists and steals, shot 45 percent from the field and drained 70-percent of her free throws. In the Sequoits' fifth game of the season, she dropped a school-record 45 points on perennial state power Fenwick. She was named AP honorable mention all-state."This year she took advantage of playing off the ball," coach Tim Borries said. Best yet, Gallimore led the Sequoits (North Suburban Prairie co-champs, school-record 23 wins, Guerin regional champs) to their most successful season in 25 years. She scored in double figures in every game. "It wasn't only on the offensive end that Paige let her presence be known," Borries said. "Paige's desire, determination and fight are what set her apart from other players." A three-year varsity player, Gallimore finished her career with 1,224 points. She's received interest from Missouri-St. Louis and Roosevelt.
Kaylie Kanzler Grant
The potential was always there. And then this season it all came together for Kanzler, who was finally healthy. In her fourth varsity season, the 5-foot-9 guard emerged as one of the county's top scorers, averaging 17 points in addition to 8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She shot 44 percent from two-point range, 30 percent from beyond the arc and 78 percent from the foul line. "What I like the most about Kaylie's game, besides her scoring ability, is her knack for finding and getting the basketball during rebound opportunities as well as her ability to get others involved by drawing defenders and finding the open player," coach Matt Lukemeyer said. "I also appreciate her willingness and desire to go strong to the basket even after taking a lot of contact throughout the season. Kaylie set some personal goals for herself before the season and accomplished them, while also helping the team." Kanzler had a season high of 27 points and scored 20 or more points in a game 10 times. She missed most of her sophomore campaign due to a knee injury and then tweaked the same knee in the spring before her junior year, thus limiting her minutes last season. "Probably the best thing about her," Lukemeyer said, "is that she is a great teammate and person and will succeed in whatever she chooses to do."
Cassidy Kloss Carmel
Determined to secure a starting spot and make her senior season memorable for not just herself but her team as well, she joined a gym following last season and committed herself to getting in shape. On the court this season, she turned heads. While averaging 11.5 points per game, the 5-foot-10 Kloss, who could always shoot the ball, displayed marked improvement as a defender and developed into a strong all-around player. She was better in all phases of her game. "It was like day and night with her," coach Kelly Perz said. "Not that she wasn't dedicated before, but something clicked. ... She really got the most out of her senior season that she could." Kloss scored 18 points in back-to-back state playoff wins and helped the Corsairs win their first sectional championship. The three-year varsity player averaged 4 rebounds per game, too. "She's one of those players that has her best games in big games," Perz said. "She's awesome."
Maggie Mahar Mundelein
The sweet-shooting guard would have spent her freshman season on varsity if she hadn't broken her ankle. Healthy last season, she flashed her potential, and this season she played even better. She averaged 9.7 points per game, shooting 41 percent from three-point range, while also leading the 20-game winners in assists. A team captain, the junior earned her team's vote as its MVP. "After sitting out her freshman season with a broken ankle, Maggie was able to surprise teams last year with her shooting and scoring due to the fact that she was unknown," coach Brian Evans said. "No surprises this year, as teams made it their game plan to know where she was at all times on the floor." Despite the attention given to her, Mahar still found ways to score or set up teammates. "Her points were much harder to come by, but everyone else benefited from her being guarded much tighter, and our win total doubled from last year because we had a much more balanced offensive attack," Evans said. "She was a hard worker on the floor, and that is exactly what you need from your team captain."
Lauren Nee Wauconda
A PA announcer's dream ("Nee for 3"), the senior guard gave Bulldogs fans plenty to cheer about. "She is the best three-point shooter we have ever had at Wauconda," coach Jaime Dennis said. A three-year varsity player, Nee sank 46 3-pointers, shooting nearly 30 percent from beyond the arc. Her six 3s in one game might be a school record, Dennis said. Nee averaged a team-best 11.2 points and 1.7 steal per game. At 5-feet-1, she even blocked 5 shots. "She is better than her stats indicate," said Dennis, noting her team lacked another player who could handle and distribute the ball. With Nee rarely leaving the court, the Bulldogs won 10 games, their most in three seasons. "She is the MVP of our team and we wouldn't have had those 10 wins without her," Dennis said. Nee is going to play basketball at Elmhurst next year.
Kristen O'Brien Warren
Called a quiet leader by coach John Stanczykiewicz, the senior guard showed that kind of leadership during crunchtime in a late-season game at Maine South. Warren had a small team. Maine South boasted a large team. During a timeout, Stanczykiewicz says O'Brien told him, "Let me guard the big girl." The coach granted her request. The Maine South player never scored down the stretch -- and Warren captured what Stanczykiewicz called probably its biggest win of the year. That's the kind of impact O'Brien was capable of making. A midseason call-up her freshman year, she put together a breakout season this winter, averaging a team-best 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc (46 3-pointers). She opened the season on fire, scoring 16 points in each of the Blue Devils' first two games before netting a career-high 26 points in a win over Phillips. "She was very dependable, very low key," Stanczykiewicz said. "On a team with not a lot of experience coming back, we really put a lot of pressure on Kristen to play defense and be our leader on offense, and she really did a great job. Every game she was getting the other team's best defender, and she still worked through it and had a really successful year."
Sydney Smith Vernon Hills
She will graduate as more than just the Cougars' all-time leading scorer. She will leave having made an indelible mark at her school. "From classroom to hallways to locker room to basketball court, she is one of the best all-around kids we have ever had at our school," coach Paul Brettner said. "She brings a fierce intensity coupled with an ability to keep a team loose that is unmatched. She led this team after we had major losses to graduation and a major loss due to injury. She has made huge footprints in our program." The captain of the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team and a three-time selection, Smith averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. She was a 53-percent shooter from two-point range, 32-percent shooter from three-point territory and sank 81 percent of her free throws. Named AP all-state (second team), she poured in a school-record 35 points in the Cougars' sixth game of the season. The Vermont-bound forward finished her four-year varsity career with a school-record 1,659 points, 734 rebounds, 274 assists, 227 steals and 144 blocks.
Carson Sparkman Grayslake Central
The Rams have won 39 games in the last two seasons, and having an athletic point guard helps explain that success. A three-year varsity player and repeat all-area choice, Sparkman averaged 8.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game this season. With a great scorer in Morgan Dahlstrom, the Rams needed a player they could depend on to get her the ball in scoring positions and run the offense, and Sparkman came through in that capacity while also successfully pressuring opposing guards. "She was one of the fastest point guards in the area and a solid defender and team leader," coach Steve Ikenn said. "She seldom came out of a game."
Brittney Thibeaux Grayslake North
Talk about growth. She grew into more than just a 6-foot girl. She began her high school basketball career as a freshman B player and finished it with a scholarship offer, which she accepted, from Minnesota State University Moorhead. "From the time I took over the program the summer of Brittney's junior year, I have never witnessed a player improve so much in a short time as Brittney did," coach Nate Flannery said. A repeat all-area selection, Thibeaux averaged 12 points and 7.2 rebounds per game for the 20-game winners. She also blocked 50 shots and chalked 64 steals. She holds the program record for blocks in a game (7), season (54) and career (104). Her 747 career points and 428 rebounds -- in just two varsity seasons -- both rank third in team history. "Brittney has the ability to do some things on the court that you just don't see very often," Flannery said. "She made plays throughout the year on both ends of the court that most players simply can't make."
Sophia Way Stevenson
Count the ways Way can hurt an opponent. She can score from anywhere on the court, get the Patriots organized offensively, handle the basketball and rebound it, defend -- and display the work ethic needed to succeed. "She could shoot the 3, take the ball to the basket and was a very good free-throw shooter, as well," coach Tom Dineen said of the sweet-shooting junior guard, who's a repeat all-area selection. Way averaged 12.2 points per game with a season-high of 24 and pair of 23-point efforts. She also averaged 5.8 rebounds, led the Patriots in assists (68) and 3-pointers (47), and shot 76 percent from the foul line. A three-year varsity player, she was a first-time team captain who helped the Patriots go 21-9. "She's just an exceptionally hard worker," Dineen said. "She puts in a lot of time outside of the gym on her own to make herself a better player. She's just, go, go, go all the time." Way will go into next season with 711 career points.
Lauren Webb Vernon Hills
A nagging foot injury caused the 6-foot senior to miss 18 of the Cougars' first 19 games. When she returned to action for good, it reconfirmed that the Cougars always had better footing when she was standing on the court. Last year's captain of the Daily Herald Lake County All-Area team and a three-time selection, Webb averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2 assists in 13 games. With her on the court, the Cougars lost only once -- in the sectional final. When the Cougars beat North Chicago in triple-overtime -- a game that they needed to win in order to secure their third straight appearance in the North Suburban Conference championship game -- it was her 3 free throws with less than a second left in regulation that forced OT. "Her injury kept her overall numbers down, but she still had some remarkable moments this season," coach Paul Brettner said. "She has the last few years played her best games in our toughest games. She has had some clutch performances that will be remembered like folklore for years to come." Webb, who signed with Bowling Green, shot 46 percent from two-point range, 37 percent from beyond the arc and 84 percent from the line. She finished her four-year varsity career with 1,205 points, 558 rebounds, 184 assists, 101 steals and 95 blocks.
Player School Yr. Pos.
Taylor Buford Stevenson Jr. C/F
Morgan Dahlstrom Grayslake Central Sr. C
Kendall Detweiler Grayslake North Sr. G
Kathleen Felicelli Carmel Catholic Sr. G
Paige Gallimore Antioch Sr. G
Kaylie Kanzler Grant Sr. G
Cassidy Kloss Carmel Catholic Sr. G
Maggie Mahar Mundelein Jr. G
Lauren Nee Wauconda Sr. G
Kristen O'Brien Warren Sr. G
*Sydney Smith Vernon Hills Sr. F
Carson Sparkman Grayslake Central Sr. PG
Brittney Thibeaux Grayslake North Sr. F
Sophia Way Stevenson Jr. G
Lauren Webb Vernon Hills Sr. F
Honorable mentionNatalie Busscher (Mundelein Jr. G), Justice Clark (Round Lake Sr. G), Elly Daleske (Lake Zurich Jr. G), Taylor Drake (Grant So. C), Alexis Duehr (Antioch So. G), Janine Fajardo (Stevenson So. G), Kasey Firnbach (Vernon Hills Jr. F), Maggie Fish (Grayslake North Jr. G), Ellie Haviland (Lakes So. G), Jamie Hemmer (Mundelein Jr. F), Claire Keefe (Libertyville Fr. G/F), Leah Lach (Carmel Sr. F), Hailey Leinart (Warren Sr. G), Rosie Lynch (Libertyville Sr. G), Sam Ney (Lakes Sr. G), Abby Pirron (Lake Zurich So. G), Emma Rappe (Carmel Catholic Jr. C), Ashley Reiser (Antioch Fr. PG), Ashley Richardson (Stevenson Fr. PG), Lauren Rouse (Mundelein Sr. G), Jasmine Sangster (Grant So. PG)
Selections and profiles by Joe Aguilar