Kate Bullman Grayslake CentralAt 6 feet 1, the lean sophomore can play with her back to the basket, but that's not what has made her a legitimate scoring threat. "Kate is that rare player that can play both inside and outside, as she has a combination of size and speed that creates matchup problems for opponents," Rams coach Steve Ikenn said of his guard/forward. " She is also a tough competitor who relishes the challenge of guarding our opponent's best perimeter scorer." In her second varsity season, Bullman led the Rams in scoring and rebounding. She averaged 11 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.7 steals, 2.3 assists and 2 blocks per game in helping the Rams post 23 wins and earn a share of the Northern Lake County Conference championship. She was named All-NLCC First Team. "Kate is a great all-around player and a fierce competitor," Ikenn said. "She is also a great perimeter defender and shot blocker."
Kayla Caudle Vernon HillsWith another varsity season ahead of her, and despite missing several games this season due to an ankle injury, the 6-foot post is already the Cougars' all-time leading rebounder. An all-area player since her freshman year, she averaged 15.3 points and 14.4 rebounds per game as a junior. Her career numbers include 885 points (seventh all-time at VHHS) and 764 rebounds. "She worked in the off-season to score in more of a variety of ways, and it paid off," Cougars coach Paul Brettner said. "Her inside play not only created scoring chances for us inside, but also increased opportunities for our perimeter players to score from outside. As strong of a player as she is, she is that great of a person and leader. She meant a great deal to our team both on the floor and off." An All-Central Suburban League North Division selection, Caudle has not committed to a college but has a variety of offers from Division I schools.
Lydia Crow LibertyvilleOpponents didn't want to see Crow get in the flow. The 5-foot-8 sophomore guard showed off a deft touch from beyond the arc on varsity as a freshman, and her production was even better this winter. She drained a school-record 75 3-pointers, giving her a school-record 121 for her career. She averaged 12.1 points per game on 37.6-percent shooting and shot 33.8 percent from three-point range. She also averaged 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game. "Lydia hit six 3s in our season opener this year, and from that point forward she was a marked player," Wildcats coach Greg Pedersen said. "Other teams spent so much effort in denying her chances to shoot that it opened up quality shot opportunities for her teammates. We love that her game is evolving, and she's getting better and better at attacking the basket."
Kaylen Dickson WarrenBlue Devils coach John Stanczykiewicz called her growth from freshman year to senior year "explosive." That was a word used often to describe Dickson's play on the court. A four-year varsity player and three-year starter, the 5-foot-11 guard continued to wow on the court with her athleticism. She averaged 15 points per game for the second year in a row, in addition to averaging nearly 8 rebounds and 3 steals. She scored a career-high 31 points against Lakes, dominated with a 28-point, 12-rebound effort in a first-place showdown against Stevenson and was equally impressive against Prospect in the Class 4A Buffalo Grove regional final, as she poured in 22 points. A three-time all-area selection, she serves as co-captain of this year's team along with teammate Jordyn Hughes. Dickson finished with 1,407 career points. "Kay is a tremendously dynamic player," Stanczykiewicz said. "And because she's such a dynamic player, she often tries to make a lot of plays. So sometimes I think that affects her shooting percentage. She takes shots in tough areas. Sometimes she takes shots when she's closely guarded. Did she improve (from last season)? Absolutely." Dickson will play Division-I basketball at Wake Forest University.
Rosie Drevline Grayslake CentralOnce the 5-foot-8 junior guard found her offensive game in late December, she continued to produce on a consistent level for the Rams, who earned a share of the Northern Lake County Conference championship and won a Class 4A regional title. Rosie rose to the occasion at Warren's Blue Devil Classic, averaging 14 points per game. Included were a 20-point game against Highland Park and a season-high 21-point performance against Carmel. For the season, the three-year varsity player averaged 9.3 points, 3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She was named All-NLCC Second Team. "Rosie is one of the hardest-working players you will find, and she has a great instinct for the game," Rams coach Steve Ikenn said. "Rosie is a great outside shooter who also reads defenses well and makes great cuts to the hoop. She led us in three-point shooting, and when she gets hot she can put up points in a hurry like she did against Barrington (scoring 17 points) during regionals. She is also the consummate team player and leader. She does whatever the team needs her to do and, on those rare occasions when she is on the bench, no one cheers louder for their teammates."
Morgan Frank MundeleinFrankly speaking, Frank's best is probably yet to come. In her second varsity season, the 5-foot-11 sophomore wing/guard continued to improve and shine at both ends of the floor. She averaged 13.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 2.1 assists and 1.3 blocks per game, while draining 46 3-pointers. She had 3 double-doubles. "Her stats speak for themselves," Mustangs coach Greg Dorgan said of his All-North Suburban Conference honorable mention selection. "However, it was her growth in decision-making and attacking the basket that helped us the most. Early in the season, she might have settled for a jumper or tried to get another teammate involved, but throughout the season she learned to take advantage of opportunities to drive to the basket, finish down low, but still find the open teammate if the situation warranted it. Morgan is extremely coachable, she wants to guard the best player on the other team, she wants to be a part of the game-planning process, she's willing to play any position we assign her from point guard to center, and she wants her team to be successful."
Savannah Guenther Grayslake NorthPromoted her freshman year at Christmas when the varsity was suddenly short on players, she proved she was good enough to stay up for good. The 5-foot-10 guard has continued to get only better. She enjoyed a breakout junior season this winter, leading the Knights in scoring (12 ppg) and rebounding (7 rpg), in addition to averaging 3 assists and 1.5 blocks per game. "She's a complete player," Knights coach Rob Nicoletti said. "I think her defense is underrated. She's our leading scorer, but she plays good defense and rebounds the ball well too. And she's a great kid. She's a great teammate." Voted a team captain, Guenther was named All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team and represents the program, Nicoletti said, the "right way on and off the court." Playing in the shadow of four-year varsity player Sidney Lovitch before this season, Guenther upped her game and became the Knights' undisputed leader. "I'm excited for her for next year because she really has come a long way," Nicoletti said. "This was her first year where she was 'the' girl, without Sidney Lovitsch. She just got better and better as the season went on."
Mallory Harrity GrantPlaying for her fourth head coach in four varsity seasons, the 6-foot senior post showed perseverance pays off. She had a dominating season, posting team bests of 13.4 points and 10 rebounds per game, as the Bulldogs won 22 games and earned a share of the Northern Lake County Conference championship. "Mallory is a leader on and off the court." Bulldogs coach Kevin Geist said of the All-NLCC First Team selection. "Every day she was the first one to practice and the last to leave practice. She is a natural leader. Mallory never backs down from any challenge and always wants to do what is best for the team. Mallory is a player who works hard and wants what is best for the team and is ready willing and able to make the necessary sacrifices." Harrity finished the regular season by scoring a career-high 30 points against Round Lake. She will attend Arkansas State University in the fall and major in criminology.
Jordyn Hughes WarrenShe was good, but still raw, three seasons ago. "As a freshman, Jordyn was a bull in a china shop," Blue Devils coach John Stanczykiewicz said. "She got the ball and she drove to the basket, and it didn't matter who was in her way. But she worked on her game." And kept working on it. Kept improving. Kept winning more and more games. She will go down, Stanczykiewicz said, as one of the best players in the history of Warren girls basketball. That's understandable considering the 5-foot-7 guard finished with 1,661 career points. An all-area player since her freshman year, when the Blue Devils won 13 games, she is the co-captain of this year's team along with teammate Kaylen Dickson. They led the Blue Devils to 25 wins for the second year in a row, the North Suburban Conference championship, the Class 4A Buffalo Grove regional title and a berth in the Fremd sectional final. The sweet-shooting Hughes averaged nearly 15 points per game. She will play Division-I basketball at Eastern Illinois University.
Ranya Jamison Carmel CatholicWith lightning-quick hands, the 5-foot-3 sophomore guard could change momentum of games at either end of the court rapidly. A second-year varsity starter, she led the Corsairs to four postseason wins and a berth in the Class 3A Burlington Central supersectional. For the season, Jamison averaged 11 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. She was the lone Corsairs player named to the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference team. "Ranya is a very dynamic player with the ball in her hands," Corsairs coach Ben Berg said. "When she was balancing between scoring and distributing the ball to her teammates, we were at our best on offense."
Grace Kinsey Lake Zurich
She didn't score 20 points per game, but rather shut down players who could score 20. A four-year varsity starter and three-year captain, Kinsey was probably the best defender in the county. Warren's Jordyn Hughes, Stevenson's Klaire Steffens and Lake Forest's Halle Douglass were among the highly skilled scorers she held to single-digit points. "Grace is that kid that every coach loves to coach," Bears coach Chris Bennett said of his 5-foot-10 guard. "Team leader, communicates, studies film, does all the dirty work; all the things that don't show up in the box score. In most games, she guarded the other teams' leading scorer whether they were a post or a point guard. She was a one-man press break, and was our coach on the floor." Kinsey averaged 5.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and a team-leading 3.6 assists per game (2-to-1, assist-to-turnover ratio) in an All-North Suburban Conference campaign. She will play college basketball at DePauw University.
Ally Mahinay GrantA varsity starter at guard since her freshman season, the 5-foot-10 junior directed the Bulldogs to winning streaks of seven and nine games this season, while proving to be equally effective at scoring or dishing to teammates. She averaged 11.7 points per game, sinking 39 3-pointers, in a breakout campaign that saw the Bulldogs win 22 games and tie for first place in the Northern Lake County Conference. She was named All-NLCC First Team. "Ally is an excellent example of a point guard for any team: intelligent, humble and always willing to make others better," Bulldogs coach Kevin Geist said. "She is a coach on the court. Ally is a player who leads by example. She is always in control of herself, her emotions and the team. If we needed a big play to be made, Ally answered the call time and time again, whether it was to score, get a key stop on defense, or to make the extra pass. Off the court, she is an excellent student, a member of National Honor Society, and a person who is goal driven."
Sara Smith LakesThere are coaches on the floor -- and in team huddles. During a timeout in a game late this season, Lakes coach Brian Phelan put his 5-foot-8 junior point guard in charge. "As I was listening from a distance, she did a great job," Phelan said. Phelan saw that kind of leadership all season from his two-year varsity starter, who led the Eagles to their first Class 3A regional championship in school history. She averaged 8.3 points, 3.4 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping the Eagles overcome an 0-6 start to win 16 games. She was voted a team caption this season and was named All-Northern Lake County Conference Second Team. Her 16-point effort helped the Eagles upset eventual 25-game-winner Warren in early December. "Sara is another coach on the court," Phelan said. "She truly leads the team by example. Her leadership skill set strengthened over the course of the season, and we very excited to see this growth continue. Even when we started out 0-6, she simply got it. She led us with a positive attitude and hard work ethic each and every day."
Klaire Steffens StevensonThe four-year varsity player ended her career with just fewer than 1,000 points, but a regional championship did not elude her. She led the Patriots to their first regional title since 2013. The 6-foot senior forward averaged 14.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 1 block per game. She shot 44 percent from the field, as the Patriots won 17 games. "Klaire is the type of kid and player that cannot truly be replaced in a program," Patriots coach Ashley Graham said. "She not only made everyone around her better, but she made our team chemistry better by her leadership ability and positive attitude. She was the glue to our team." Steffens scored 988 points in her career and won 91 games. Her senior campaign included seven 20-point efforts, including a career high of 26 against Fenwick. "Klaire was able to score in many ways: whether it be driving to the basket, playing with her back to the basket, or hitting the 3," Graham said. A three-time all-area and three-time All-North Suburban Conference selection, Steffens will continue her basketball career at the University of Chicago. "Klaire has such a bright future," Graham said. "She will do great at that level and in that conference (University Athletic Association). She has a huge upside, and she is a kid who will do absolutely anything to be the best she can be. It was an absolute blessing and honor to have been her coach. She is going to be deeply, deeply missed in every aspect of our program."
Allie Tylka WaucondaThe 6-foot junior forward was already having a breakout season when she took her game to yet another level. In the Bulldogs' last nine games, she averaged 23.3 points. Included were a 30-point game against Grant and, two games later, a career-high, 34-point performance against Woodstock in a Class 3A regional semifinal. In the Bulldogs' regional final against St. Viator, she scored the 1,000th point of her career. For the season, the three-year varsity starter averaged 18.1 points (508 points), 10 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 2.8 assists and 2.6 blocks per game. She shot 42 percent from the floor, as the young Bulldogs won 14 games. The All-Northern Lake County Conference First Team selection led the team in every statistical category. "She has started since her freshman year, and the experience is really starting to show," Bulldogs coach Jaime Dennis said. "She works incredibly hard all year round. Despite being tremendously talented, she still continues to work on new moves and improve her weakness. She has the ability to play any position on the floor. ... It has been a pleasure to coach her and it will be fun to watch what she can do next year. Although she has not committed yet, she has some Division I schools looking at her."
McKenna Zobel Lake ZurichThe four-year varsity player started the season by scoring 24 points against perennial state power Fremd. She finished the season by putting up more impressive numbers. She averaged better than 15 points in the Bears' last 12 games, the last of which was the Class 4A Hersey supersectional. The Bears won 10 of those games, with both losses being to Maine West. "McKenna proved this year that she is multitalented: posting up, hitting midrange jump shots, and some big 3s at big moments in games," Bears coach Chris Bennett said. "She was a leader of our team, always playing with her heart." The 6-foot-1 senior forward led the 20-win Bears is scoring (11.7 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg), while also averaging 1.9 assists and shooting 51 percent from the floor in a repeat All-North Suburban Conference campaign. A three-year varsity starter who was also an all-area selection in volleyball, she is still being recruited by some smaller D-I schools for basketball.
Player School Yr. Pos.
Kate Bullman Grayslake Central So. F/G
Kayla Caudle Vernon Hills Jr. F
Lydia Crow Libertyville So. G
*Kaylen Dickson Warren Sr. G
Rosie Drevline Grayslake Central Jr. G
Morgan Frank Mundelein So. G/F
Savannah Guenther Grayslake North Jr. G
Mallory Harrity Grant Sr. F/C
*Jordyn Hughes Warren Sr. G
Ally Mahinay Grant Jr. G
Ranya Jamison Carmel Catholic So. G
Grace Kinsey Lake Zurich Sr. G
Sara Smith Lakes Jr. G
Klaire Steffens Stevenson Sr. F
Allie Tylka Wauconda Jr. F
McKenna Zobel Lake Zurich Sr. F
Honorable mentionBrigit Barr (Carmel Catholic Jr. F), Piper Bedell (Vernon Hills Jr. G), Hannah Brooks (Round Lake Sr. F), Margaret Buchert (Libertyville So. G), Hannah Buscher (Mundelein Sr. G), Kiana Cencula (Stevenson Sr. G), Mia Edwards (Lakes Jr. F), Taylor Feltner (Antioch Sr. G), Maura Fitzgerald (Grayslake Central Jr. G), Piper Foote (Antioch Jr. G), Ella Gilbertson (Lake Zurich So. G), Jordyn Gosell (Grayslake Central Sr. G/F), Lauren Huber (Libertyville Fr. G), Daniella Jarrell (Vernon Hills Fr. G), Kennedy Kiesgen (Grant Jr. F), Avery King (Stevenson So. G), Maddy Piggott (Lake Zurich Jr. F), Caitlin Teehan (Carmel Catholic Jr. G), Mercedes Uribe (Grant Jr. G)
Selections and profiles by Joe Aguilar