Girls basketball: Lake County all-area team
Taylor Buford StevensonThere was no underestimating the senior's value on the court. In the seven games she missed -- six due to an ankle injury -- the Patriots went 4-3. In the games she played, the Patriots were 22-2. A 5-foot-10 forward who work hard on her outside jumper during the summer, she accepted an offer from Butler University early in the season. She played at a high level all winter, posting back-to-back 22-point games and helping lead the Patriots to a perfect mark in North Suburban Lake Division play. A four-year varsity player and repeat all-area selection, she averaged 12.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. She posted a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds in the Patriots' final game. She finished her career with 1,040 points and 645 rebounds.
Elly Daleske Lake ZurichLake Zurich's girls basketball greats include lots of big-name bigs. Tierney. Solverson. Berwanger sisters. Bauer sisters. None of them, according to coach Chris Bennett, ever averaged a double-double as Daleske did this season. A 5-foot-10 senior forward, she averaged 11.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists. She scored a season-high 20 points against Buffalo Grove in the regional semifinal and helped lead the Bears to more wins in each of her three seasons on varsity. "Elly has great instincts as a basketball player as evidenced by the fact she led us in assists from a post position," Bennett said. "She has a nose for the ball, a few great moves around the basket and a competitive spirit that is second to none. When the game was on the line, she wanted the ball in her hands. One of the great competitors I have had the pleasure to coach." An all-area soccer goalie as well, Daleske will attend Grand Valley State, where she plans to study athletic training but not play sports.
Becky Deichl LibertyvilleHer improved play in her third varsity season resulted in equally improved basketball team. The Wildcats' win total jumped from 10 last season to 17, as the 6-foot-2 senior center averaged a team-best 11.5 points and 8 rebounds per game. She tossed in a season-high 22 points against North Suburban Lake Division champ Stevenson. The only senior starter for the Wildcats, she shot 47 percent from the floor. "Becky, as the top option in our offense, gave us an inside presence that opened up opportunities for her teammates," coach Greg Pedersen said. "She was aggressive around the hoop and took big steps as a senior to play physical basketball. We were very young and needed her leadership on offense and defense."
Kasey Firnbach Vernon HillsAmong the county leaders in varsity letters, she led her team in several categories this season. The 5-foot-10 senior averaged 12.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists. She earned repeat all-conference honors in leading the Cougars to 21 wins and a regional championship. "Kasey was a leader for us in every aspect this season," coach Paul Brettner said of his three-year varsity forward. "She led us on the court in scoring, rebounding, defending. She led us off the court by example and as a vocal leader." Firnbach played varsity volleyball the last two years and went downstate in the discus throw in track the last two springs. "The growth she achieved each year as a soon-to-be 12-sport athlete shows that you can achieve excellence in a sport without committing solely to that sport," Brettner said. "She is a wonderful person and very deserving of this honor."
Jordyn Hughes WarrenNo one is saying she's the Blue Devils' next Sarah Boothe. But the 5-foot-7 guard actually scored more points than Boothe did as a freshman. Boothe finished with 2,038 career points and was an All-American her senior year. "I thought for a freshman, she played with tremendous composure," coach John Stanczykiewicz said of Hughes, who led the Blue Devils in scoring. "She had a sense of where she was on the floor and what she wanted to do. She's always in attack mode. She's fearless." By Christmas, Warren opponents knew they had to focus their defense on stopping the sharpshooting freshman, who continued to produce, while at the same time being a great teammate. She scored 355 points this season, pouring in a season-high 29 against Libertyville. "Sometimes freshman can be immature," Stanczykiewicz said. "I thought she played with great maturity. She took direction. She fit in. ... She has a lot to learn and improve on, but she has a great foundation to build on."
Sidney Lovitsch Grayslake NorthThe Knights won 17 games, despite entering the season with a new coach and having to replace a pair of graduated all-area players. The main reason for their success on the floor was the 5-foot-9 sophomore guard. A second-year varsity starter who likes to play aggressively and drive to the basket, Lovitsch averaged 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4 steals per game. She poured in a season-high 26 points against Woodstock. "Sid was the engine for our team all season," coach Rob Nicoletti said. "She's really competitive and plays with a lot of energy on both ends of the floor which our entire team really benefitted from this year. Time after time, Sid made big plays when we needed them most."
Maggie Mahar MundeleinDenied her freshman campaign of basketball after breaking her ankle, she more than made up for lost time the last three seasons. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 8.5 points and 5 rebounds in her third season as a varsity starter. She is a repeat all-area selection and three-time all-conference selection. Her 22 points led the Mustangs to a victory over host Carmel in the state tournament. "A four-year varsity player with leadership skills that will be impossible to replace," coach Brian Evans said. "One of the most coachable kids I've had here at Mundelein High School. Our best scoring threat the last three years, and teams would gear their defenses around stopping her first and foremost. We will have a hard time replacing her, for sure."
Carly McCameron AntiochThe biggest challenge the Sequoits will have next season will be replacing their big, who took huge strides this season in helping the team win 30 games. Called the "anchor of our team" and its "heart and soul" by coach Tim Borries, the center averaged 9.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 1.5 steals per game. She had a season-high 19 points against Buffalo Grove and recorded 17 points and 7 blocks against Stevenson in the North Suburban Conference championship game. She posted 6 double-doubles. A 6-footer with an even longer wingspan, she was a leader both on and off the court. "She's so smart," Borries said. "What people don't see in practice and off the court is that she takes care of everybody."
Emma Rappe Carmel CatholicWhen the Corsairs graduated their special senior class of a year ago, the only starter left was the 6-foot forward. With little varsity experience on the court with her this season, Rappe still managed to average team bests of 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. She started last season for a Corsairs squad that won a sectional championship. "She did better than I had expected her to do this season with the youth that was around her," coach Kelly Perz said of her three-year varsity player. "She was always willing to take the last shot, the big shot of the game, and she cleaned up the boards for us. She was very consistent for us all year, too."
Amy Reiser AntiochA triple-double seems inevitable for the guard, who has two seasons of varsity basketball still to go. She had 18 points, 10 rebounds and 8 steals in the Sequoits' regional final against St. Viator. Two games later, she put up 17 points, 11 boards and 8 steals against North Chicago in a sectional-championship win. She collected 10 steals against Lakes. For the season, the 5-foot-7 sophomore, who serves as co-captain of the all-area team with her twin Ashley, led the Sequoits in scoring (13.6 ppg). She also averaged 6.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 2.3 assists per game. "What Amy does is anticipates," coach Tim Borries said. "She anticipates 'I'm on YOU.' She anticipates where the next play is coming. That's hard to teach. Either you have it or you don't. She has it."
Ashley Reiser AntiochFootball has its gun-slinging quarterbacks. The "QB" of Antioch's basketball team has exceptional trust in her own abilities to thread passes. "Ashley's vision is unbelievable," coach Tim Borries said. "And it's improving. Give her a crease and she's going to try it." Reiser directed the Sequoits to their best season in school history, averaging 12 points, 5.9 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3 steals per game. She had double-digit assists in four games and sank 37 3-pointers. Co-captain of the all-area team with her twin Amy, she was at her best in the NSC championship game against Stevenson, scoring a season-high 26 points and dishing out 5 assists. "She was flawless," Borries said after the Sequoits captured their first conference title. "She had total control of that game. She made the right decisions, she got everybody involved in the first half, and then she took over in the second half. That's the true sign of a point guard."
Ashley Richardson StevensonBetween Buffalo Grove and Stevenson, Tom Dineen has coached more than his share of great point guards. The 5-foot-6 sophomore belongs in the conversation. "Such a great kid, such a competitor," Dineen said. "She just wants to play and make everyone around her successful. She's done that for two years." Richardson started the season by being named MVP of Schaumburg's tournament. She was also named all-tourney at Dundee-Crown (Christmas) and DeKalb (MLK). She averaged 12.4 points per game, tossing in a season-high 22 on a pair of occasions. She also averaged 5.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals. "Not much more you could ask out of her," Dineen said. "She can shoot the 3, she can drive to the basket, she can finish, she shoots (85 percent) from the free-throw line, she can handle the ball, and she can rebound the ball. She does everything for us."
Jasmine Sangster GrantAll that Jazz was all good for the Bulldogs. The 5-foot-5 junior guard was a fun watch every game as she put together a breakout campaign. She averaged 14.8 points, 4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.7 steals in her third varsity season. She scored 20 or more points seven times, including a season-high 26 against Lakes. "Jazz does a great job of using her speed and quickness to draw defenders to her and then is able to get her open teammates involved," coach Matt Lukemeyer said. "I also love that she steps up and takes her game to an even higher level during crunchtime. There were times this season where she completely took over the second half of games to help us with some comeback victories and closing games out."
Lauren Spalding Grayslake CentralSpalding can shoot a Spalding -- and other name-brand basketballs. The senior guard can do more than sink shots, too. A three-year varsity starter and four-year varsity player, she led the Rams this season in scoring (9 ppg), assists (2 apg) and steals (1 spg), while also averaging 3 rebounds. She helped the Rams win 39 games as a sophomore and junior. "When she first stepped into the starting lineup as a sophomore, she was mainly known as a 3-point threat," coach Steve Ikenn said. "She leaves as a very good all-around player. She still shoots well from the arc, but now has the all-around floor game to go with it. Lauren also became our best defender, routinely guarding our opponent's best wing. She has a great court awareness and does many things on the floor to help the team that cannot be quantified. And that is coming from a stats teacher."
Sophia Way StevensonWay's high school basketball career didn't end the way she wanted, as the Patriots' 26-win campaign ended in the regional finals. But there's no denying what she accomplished in her four-year varsity career. The 5-foot-8 guard earned all-conference and all-area honors for the third year in a row. She scored her 1,000th point this season, averaging a team-best 13.3 per game and tossing in a career-high 25 against Libertyville. She also averaged 5.5 rebounds, sank 55 3-pointers and shot 77 percent from the foul line. Vocal with sweet jump shot, she was a member of four 20-win teams and helped the Patriots go 12-0 in winning the North Suburban Lake Division championship this winter. She finished her career with 1,122 points, including 133 3-pointers.
Taylor Buford Stevenson Sr. F
Elly Daleske Lake Zurich Sr. F
Becky Deichl Libertyville Sr. C
Kasey Firnbach Vernon Hills Sr. F
Jordyn Hughes Warren Fr. G
Sidney Lovitsch Grayslake North So. G
Maggie Mahar Mundelein Sr. G
Carly McCameron Antioch Sr. C
Emma Rappe Carmel Catholic Sr. F
*Amy Reiser Antioch So. G
*Ashley Reiser Antioch So. PG
Ashley Richardson Stevenson So. PG
Jasmine Sangster Grant Jr. G
Lauren Spalding Grayslake Central Sr. G
Sophia Way Stevenson Sr. G
Honorable mentionBecky Bahlmann (Vernon Hills So. G), Monica Bahlmann (Vernon Hills Sr. F), Natalie Busscher (Mundelein Sr. G), Rachel Dawson (Lake Zurich Sr. F), Janine Fajardo (Stevenson Jr. G), Maggie Fish (Grayslake North Sr. G), Ellie Haviland (Lakes Jr. G), Kelly Johnson (Antioch Jr. F), Claire Keefe (Libertyville So. F), McKaylie Krey (Grant Jr. G), Haley Lieberman (Vernon Hills Sr. G), Raven Nicoline (Round Lake Sr. G), Sammi Jo Nixon (Warren Sr. G), Olivia Pawlak (Lakes Sr. C), Maggie Piazzi (Libertyville Jr. G), Abby Pirron (Lake Zurich Jr. G), Katie Rossetti (Wauconda So. C), Corrina Vaughan (Wauconda Jr. G)
Selections and profiles by Joe Aguilar