Girls basketball: Northwest all-area team
Maggie Berigan HerseyBerigan, a 6-foot senior center, was a key figure for the Huskies in more ways than one. "Maggie was a difference-maker, on and off the court, this year," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "Her efforts started out as being our summer captain. She created a climate of camaraderie and trust that carried on throughout the season." Berigan averaged 9.2 points, 6.2 rebounds along with 50 assists. "Our team had great chemistry, and that is because of Maggie's leadership," Fendley added. "Her points and rebounds will be missed next year, but not as much as the countless intangibles that she added to our team."
Morgan Campagna Rolling MeadowsArguably the most improved player in the MSL, Campagna went from being a role player off the bench to being an impact player on both ends of the court. Her coach Ryan Kirkorsky considers her one of the top rebounders in the area. "She's a tough matchup because she has perimeter skills, but can also use her size in the post," he said. "She was consistently one of our top defenders and dramatically improved her shooting percentage from a year ago." Campagna averaged 8.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists. "Morgan has only touched the surface of what she can be as a player," Kirkorsky said. "And I'm looking forward to what she has in store for her senior season."
Myia Clark St. ViatorOnly a sophomore, Clark appears on the all-area team for a second straight year. She led the team in scoring (12.6) and rebounding (4.4). First-year coach Jason Raymond calls the 5-foot-7 guard a tremendous talent. "Despite being the focus of most opponents' defenses, Myia was still able to average almost 13 points a game while knocking down 46 three pointers," Raymond said. "She has the ability to make dynamic plays on the court. She is an exceptional passer and has improved greatly on the defensive end." The 5-foot-7 guard had a season-high 24 points at St. Charles East. "She's a team player and unselfishly shares the ball with her teammates," Raymond said. "She has made great strides in her game and I look for her to make an even bigger jump next year. She flat out has D-1 ability."
Natali Dimitrova Buffalo GroveDimitrova, a four-year varsity member, helped the Bison go from 10 wins as a freshman to back-to-back 20-win seasons and three straight regional championships. She averaged 7.7 points and 5.9 rebounds this winter. "Natali came here as a new student from Bulgaria and is now going to play in college," said BG coach Steve Kolodziej. "She is an amazing story." Dimitrova averaged more than 10 rebounds in the Mid-Suburban East champion's final 10 games. "She is an excellent post defender and rebounder," Kolodziej said. "And she is an absolute great teammate who loves the game."
Melissa Claver WheelingIt was a breakout season for Claver, who led the Wildcats with 14.3 points per game. The 5-foot-10 junior forward was the second-highest scorer in the Mid-Suburban East, averaging 15.5 points against the league. "Melissa worked extremely hard in the off season to become a better scorer," said Wheeling coach Matt Weber. "She developed a mid-range and 3-point shot, too." Claver, who had five double-doubles, also averaged 7 rebounds and was fourth-best in the East with 6.4. She shot 49 percent from the floor (fourth in the East at 50.8). "Melissa is very dedicated to her team," Weber added. "We are hoping she has the same drive this off-season to become an even more complete player."
Mallory Gerber SchaumburgThe 5-foot-11 three-year varsity starter is one of the more versatile guards in the Mid-Suburban League. After playing primarily the point guard position as a sophomore, Gerber shifted to shooting guard, where she was able to take advantage of her many abilities and lead the team in scoring (13.4 ppg). "She also proved to be one of the better rebounding (5.6 rebounds) and playmaking guards (2.1 assist, 1.0 steals)," said Schaumburg coach Curtis Goodwin of his team captain. "She often created mismatches for other teams with her combination of size, skill, and ability to score both from the perimeter and in the post. She grew into one of our better defenders. She has the capability to guard the 4 or 5 positions out on the court as well with her size, length, and energy, which is a luxury for any coach to have. She used her experience to set an example each day with her hard work and competitive spirit along with her positivity as a teammate. It seemed as if whatever the team needed this season to be successful, she was always willing and effective at stepping up to the challenge."
Claire Gritt HerseyGritt reached a milestone of 1,000 points this winter, hardly a surprise to anyone who has followed her varsity career, which began as a freshman. "Claire's terrific abilities are perfectly complimented by her effort, attitude, and her work ethic," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "For three years, she has been our go-to player." Gritt (team-high 15.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 73 assists and 69 steals) has led the Huskies to 74 wins in her career. "Despite typically being guarded by our opponent's top defender, Claire finds a way to make our offense work," Fendley said. "She spends countless hours doing anything she can to improve our team. Whether it's watching tapes, shooting through water breaks, or baking her teammates treats, she is a special player who continues to amaze me."
Bryana Hopkins FremdThe three-time all-area selection was named Mid-Suburban West Player of the Year and will continue her career at Northwestern. "Bryana stepped up and became the go-to player for this team right out of the gates," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "Numerous coaches have commented to me about how much Bryana has improved from last year. That is a testament to the work Bryana puts in during the off-season." Hopkins averaged 14 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2.5 steals. "Her ability to pass like a guard, attack the basket and knock down the mid-range shot makes her a unique and special player," Yates said. "As good of a player as Bry is on the court she is an even better person and student off the court."
Catherine Johnson Maine WestJohnson was among the leaders in almost every category during the Warriors' 27th championship season in the Central Suburban North. She was the team's second-leading scorer with 9.2 points, third-leading rebounder (5.2), second in assists (4.0) and led the team in steals thanks to her quickness. "Catherine has real good speed," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. "She is very good on deflections and defense. She could play our point or off guard." Johnson really took charge early in the season. "When we had all our injuries early in the season, Catherine really took over a leadership role," Kipp said. "She's one of the hardest workers I've had, and very coachable. She is improving all the time and she is only a sophomore. Her rebounding and quickness are going to make her one of the better competitors in the league the next few years."
Kelly Katis BarringtonKatis, also an all-area softball player, was relentless with her hustle on the floor. The 5-foot-6 senior point guard averaged 10 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals. "Kelly plays with passion and determination every time she steps on the court," said Fillies coach Babbi Barreiro. "Game after game, she plays the point as a leader for our team, directing offenses and managing the floor." Barreiro said her point guard saw the floor as well as anyone. "And she consistently makes difficult but very pretty passes, putting her teammates in a position to score," the coach said. "This season she became an even larger part of the offense with her outside shot and ability to get to the basket. She really came into her own offensively. Her guts and competitiveness make her much of the player she is. It was a great season for Kelly at both ends of the floor."
Rachel Kent Maine WestKent had one of the finest freshman years in Maine West history. Her numbers speak for themselves as she led the Warriors with 15.9 points and 8 rebounds. "Rachel's entry into the program made everyone better, and because of her skills in several different areas, both inside and outside and one defense, it gave us a chance to keep our offense more spread out," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. Kent also handed out 3 assists with 2 steals and 1 blocked shot per game. She shot 46.9 percent from the floor and 80 percent from the free throw line. "She scored a lot of points early in the season when we had people missing with injuries," Kipp said. "When everyone returned, Rachel became more of a team player and didn't have to score as much. Her work ethic is one of the best we've had in the program. By the time she is finished, she could be one of the best we've ever had at Maine West -- and we've had a lot good ones."
Maggie Leazer St. ViatorA Division I soccer recruit (Evansville), Leazer was also one of the top players in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. The Lions senior guard sparked the defense with her team-high 58 steals while also contributing many key points with her 6.9 points per game. "Maggie was a tremendous mentor for our young players," said Lions coach Jason Raymond. "She led by example every day and never lost a sprint in practice all season. Maggie was a leader on the floor and embodied the toughness that we want to instill in all of our players at St. Viator." Leazer scored 17 points when St. Viator defeated top-seeded Antioch in the sectional semifinal. "She is a ferocious competitor and our most versatile performer," Raymond said. "She could guard multiple positions, score and battle on the boards. Because of her incredible conditioning and her ability to provide our team with composure, she rarely came off the floor."
Erin Lenahan FremdLenahan spent most of her time as an Irish Dancer -- until she got to second grade, and basketball became her sport. Her footwork on the basketball court was just as good. Lenahan (6.2 points, 4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals) will step forward and play collegiately at D-II Maryville University in St. Louis. "Erin has been an unsung hero for this team, said Fremd coach Dave Yates "With as much firepower and talent on this team, Erin has never been asked to put up big offensive numbers. She is one of the best athletes I have coached and is explosive to the rim." Lenahan's defensive skills stood out. "Erin has been a lockdown defender for us for the last two years," Yates said. "She has shut down a who's who of opponents this year. Her foot speed and intelligence form a lethal combination on the defensive side. Our defensive numbers are directly related to Erin."
Brianna Lewis FremdFrom her 3-point overtime winning shot as a freshman in the Mid-Suburban League championship game, Lewis has been the steering wheel for Fremd' success. The three-time all-area talent will resume her career for D-I Texas Southern next season. "Bri had a great year for us," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "I think her ability to score in critical moments of games has allowed this team to compete against the best teams across the country." Lewis averaged 12 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the floor. "Bri is a one-woman press breaker who is the toughest one-on-one matchup in the MSL," said Yates about the 1,000-point scorer. "Bri has added more to her game this year and has taken over games at times for us. Her competitiveness has been contagious for this team. She does whatever it takes for us to win."
Amanda McCartney FremdElmhurst College will be getting one of the top shooters in the Mid-Suburban League. McCartney connected for 38 3-pointers this winter. "Amanda has been a key to our success this year," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "Her ability to keep defenses honest by consistently knocking down 3-pointers has made our offense click." McCartney played a big part in Fremd's upset of nationally-ranked Incarnate Word of Academy (St. Louis) when she hit five 3-pointers in the 59-47 win. "Amanda is a tireless worker who takes basketball very seriously," Yates added. "I am very pleased to see her hard work paid off."
Gina Miklasz HerseyIn her first season as a starter, Miklasz was a huge success. "Gina turned into a consistent force both offensively, and defensively," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "She was asked to guard our opponent's biggest offensive threat -- even if that player was significantly taller than she." Miklasz led Hersey in steals (77) while also averaging 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. She also tossed in 26 3-pointers. "She was terrific in transition, and always willing to take a high-pressure shot," Fendley added. "Gina has a calming strength for us that allowed our group to keep our composure in tough-game situations."
Laura O'Connell SchaumburgSpending her first two varsity seasons primarily at the No. 4 and 5 positions, the 5-foot-11 junior worked hard to expand her game over the summer with her ability to play multiple positions. O'Connell averaged 11 points, 4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game. "She has always had the ability to be a great playmaker and really developed into one of the more dangerous inside-outside threats in the conference," said Saxons coach Curtis Goodwin. "There were times she played the point, forward and move to the center position in the same game." An unselfish player, O'Connell routinely stepped up to the challenge of guarding another team's best post player when needed. "Her vision and passing ability around the basket are underrated," Goodwin said of the junior captain. "She was also one of our best off-the-ball defenders (and led the team in steals). Laura went out of her way to connect with her teammates and this translated to her ability to lead on the court. All season, she came through with big games, or even big moments in games, when the team needed her most."
Allison Pearson Maine WestDespite missing the first few weeks of the season, Pearson returned to the floor to help spark the Warriors to their first 20-win season since 2008. She averaged 9 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 steal. "With her stress fracture (foot), she was able to only play about eight minutes a game for the first part of season until December," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. "So that hurt her point totals." But Pearson shifted into high gear and played more like an upperclassman. "She produced leadership and decision-making at the point guard spot, which is the most important thing you can have on a team," Kipp said. "She is only a sophomore and has two great seasons left at Maine West."
Ashley Shapiro PalatineA two-year starter for the Pirates, Shapiro scored exactly 500 points in her varsity career. The 5-foot-10 senior forward was the leading scorer for the Pirates (7.8) this winter. "Ashley was a positive leader and a great role model for our younger players at Palatine," said Pirates coach Mark Johnson. "She was a tireless worker on the floor." Shapiro turned in a season-high 21 points against Conant and her career-high came as a junior when she tossed in 23 against supersectional qualifier Huntley. "The best way to sum up her 'team-first' attitude was when she approached me about our senior night and said she would prefer her five other classmates start the game and be recognized for all their hard work and she would come off the bench. To me, that says everything you need to know about Ashley Shapiro."
Olivia Solimene St. ViatorOnly a sophomore, Solimene ran the offense like a veteran quarterback in leading the Lions to the championship of their own Class 3A sectional. She was the second-leading scorer on the team with 7.4 points a game. "Olivia is extremely intelligent and a fierce competitor," said St. Viator coach Jason Raymond, whose point guard connected for 26 3-pointers. "She is fearless attacking the basket. I am looking forward to seeing Olivia's development as a player over the next two years." Solimene scored a career-high 20 points in the Lions 53-46 win over Class 4A sectional finalist Zion-Benton. "She works extremely hard in the gym and I expect even bigger things for her in the next two years," Raymond added. "For only being a sophomore, she already has innate leadership qualities. She will be a leader for our team and program in the coming years."
Kyra Spiwak Rolling MeadowsSpiwak followed up a stellar sophomore season with an equally productive junior campaign. The 5-foot-9 guard averaged 16.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4 assists and 1.9 steals while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 76 percent at the free throw line. "Kyra was given even more responsibility this year, and she responded to every challenge," said Meadows coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "She improved in every statistical category from an all-area sophomore campaign, and we played a much more rigorous schedule." Spiwak led the Mustangs in scoring, assists and steals while guarding the best player on almost every team Meadows faced. "She was our primary ballhandler, and she rarely came off the floor," Kirkorsky added. "I couldn't ask for a player to do more for our team, and what's even more exciting is that she will come back a much better player for her senior season because she works tirelessly on her game."
Sammy Stejskal Buffalo GroveOne of the most versatile players you'll find, Stejskal could play every position on the floor. And she can score from anywhere, indicative of the more than 1,000 points she has scored in her career. "She is an excellent defender and a matchup nightmare for opposing teams," said BG coach Steve Kolodziej of his 5-foot-11 senior. "She has all the intangibles that make a complete player. She has worked extremely hard to develop her outside game. Defensively, she always gets placed on the opposing teams best player." Stejskal averaged a team-high 14.9 points along with 4.8 rebounds, 3 steals and 2.4 assists. "Her best basketball certainly lies ahead of her in college," Kolodziej added. "Sammy is still undecided, but someone is going to get a great kid and a great player."
Megan Talbot BarringtonThe 6-foot-1 senior forward, an Illinois State recruit, has been an integral part of the Fillies' varsity program the past four years. Talbot finished 50 points shy of 1,000 points while finishing as the school's No. 3 all-time rebounder with 920. "She has been a true post presence and one of the most talented rebounders to wear the Barrington uniform," said Fillies coach Babbi Barreiro. "Game after game, she is the player that opponents build their defensive game plan around, often being double- and triple-teamed." Talbot averaged 12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots. "Megan is one of the most well-rounded and multifaceted players to play here," Barreiro said. "She is effective offensively, both inside the paint and beyond the arc. She is a true team player and has done a wonderful job working with the younger players in the program."
Georgette Topalis Buffalo GroveTopalis came up big in big games. She had two game-deciding buckets against state-ranked Hersey and scored a career-high 19 points against Rolling Meadows. "Georgette is an outstanding athlete who has worked extremely hard on her outside game this off-season, and during the season," said BG coach Steve Kolodziej. "She is hard-working, motivated and our emotional leader." Topalis averaged 7.2 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.1 assists. "She hustles for loose balls and challenges her teammates to get better in practice," Kolodziej added. "She knows there is a standard and expectation, and keeps everyone to that."
Grace Tworek FremdWith more than 25 three-pointers, the Harvard recruit lived up to her words. "Grace told me in the off-season that she wanted to play on the perimeter more this year," said Fremd coach Dave Yates of the 6-foot-2 junior. "It is one thing to state you want to move positions, and another to put the work in required to make that move. Grace worked her tail off expanding her range and ballhandling skills. The result has been a huge boost to our team this year." Tworek (10 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 2.0 blocks) not only became one of the Vikes' top 3-point threats, she also allowed the Mid-Suburban League champs to play a big lineup at times. "Grace is also one of the best shot blockers I have seen at the high school level," Yates added.
Jorie Wachal ConantThe most proficient scorer in the Mid-Suburban League this winter, Wachal averaged 18.1 points along with 8.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Wachal scored a career-high 40 points against Oswego and had four other games of 34 or more points. "Jorie had a breakout season for us," said Conant coach Deidre Naughton. "She is not only a shooter, but a scorer. She can score from everywhere on the floor. She is so strong she can take advantage in the post and on the offensive boards." Wachal fired home 60 3-pointers. "She is also a threat to drive and such a skilled fundamental shooter," Wachal added. "She is the true all-around player. She often had the task of also guarding the other team's best player at the post and guard position. Jorie is a really hard worker and we look forward to seeing her continue to improve her game and lead the team for her final season in a Conant uniform."
Maddie Welter Buffalo GroveOne of two 1,000-point scorers on this year's Mid-Suburban East championship team, Welter reached the milestone with a lot of points coming from 3-point range. She set the single-season mark with 91 three-pointers this winter while averaging 13 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.8 steals. "She is a special basketball player who is headed to St. Xavier (Chicago)," said BG coach Steve Kolodziej of the school's No. 7 all-time leading scorer, who also owns the career and single-game record for 3-pointers. "She has played at a school where there have been a lot of great players and I feel confident saying she is the best shooter to ever come through BG, and maybe the conference," Kolodziej said. "She is an extremely underrated defender. Her basketball IQ is off the charts. Maddie is a gym rat, a great basketball player and even better person."
Monraia Wilson Hoffman EstatesOnly a junior, Wilson is already a member of Hoffman's 1,000 point club. The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 16.3 ppg while making 46 three-point field goals. She also averaged 6.5 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.7 assists. "Monraia really stepped up into a leadership role this year as a junior on a senior-heavy team," said Hawks coach Mike Koester. "She is a natural scorer and worked hard this year to do a better job distributing the ball and getting her teammates involved." Wilson was elected as one of Hawks' captains and led the team in almost all offensive categories, including rebounding. "As a point guard to lead the team in rebounds shows her tenacity and determination," Koester added.
Maggie Berigan Hersey F Sr.
Morgan Campagna Rolling Meadows F Jr.
Melissa Claver Wheeling F Jr.
Myia Clark St. Viator G So.
Natali Dimitrova Buffalo Grove F Sr.
Mallory Gerber Schaumburg F Jr.
Claire Gritt Hersey G Jr.
*Bryana Hopkins Fremd F Sr.
Catherine Johnson Maine West G So.
Kelly Katis Barrington G Sr.
Rachel Kent Maine West G-F Fr.
Maggie Leazer St. Viator G Sr.
Erin Lenahan Fremd G Sr.
Brianna Lewis Fremd G Sr.
Amanda McCartney Fremd G Sr.
Gina Miklasz Hersey G Jr.
Laura O'Connell Schaumburg F Jr.
Allison Pearson Maine West G So.
Ashley Shapiro Palatine F Sr.
Kyra Spiwak Rolling Meadows G Jr.
Olivia Solimene St. Viator G So.
Sammy Stejskal Buffalo Grove G Sr.
Megan Talbot Barrington F Sr.
Georgette Topalis Buffalo Grove G Jr.
Grace Tworek Fremd F Jr.
Maddie Welter Buffalo Grove G Sr.
Jorie Wachal Conant G Jr.
Monraia Wilson Hoffman Estates G Jr.
* All-area team captain
Special mentionPaige Alt (Schaumburg), Michelle Benson (Conant), Julia Bergstrom (St. Viator), Auri Grayson (Barrington), Artasia Gusman (Leyden), Erin Hanson (Hoffman Estates), Karli Heneghan (Conant), Jordan Hart (Maine West), Megan King (Rolling Meadows), Amanda Kowalski (Buffalo Grove), Alex Masnica (Elk Grove), Nikki Matters (Prospect), Jennifer Nailor (Hoffman Estates), Katherine Nolan (Rolling Meadows), Sarah Pauscher (Elk Grove), Elena Porrata (Palatine), Angela Roman (Prospect), Nansy Velev (Wheeling), Julia Wacker (Fremd), Kelly Weyhrich (Hersey)
Selections and profiles by John Leusch