Larkin grad McCullum wins Great Lakes player of year

  • Lewis University guard Kendale McCullum, a Larkin graduate, recently was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference men's basketball player of the year and defensive player of the year.

    Lewis University guard Kendale McCullum, a Larkin graduate, recently was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference men's basketball player of the year and defensive player of the year. Photo courtesy of Steve Woltmann

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent

A couple of former area stars took home some postseason hardware recently.

Larkin graduate Kendale McCullum, who now plays basketball at Lewis University in Romeoville, recently was named the Great Lakes Valley Conference men's basketball player of the year and defensive player of the year, while Cary native and Marian Central Catholic alum Adam Pischke was named to the all-GLVC second team.

McCullum is the first Flyer since the 2003-2004 season to be named the conference player of the year and fourth in school history. He also is the first player in conference history to garner two of the league's top honors in the same season.

It was McCullum's third all-GLVC honor and second first-team selection. He also was a unanimous selection to the all-defensive team after earning the same honor his sophomore and junior seasons.

"I'm so happy for Kendale," said Lewis coach Scott Trost in a school press release. "He is as good a point guard as there is in the country and I consider myself fortunate to coach him. That being said, he is a remarkable young man with a bright future."

Trost also was named GLVC coach of the year.

Through midweek McCullum was leading the conference in assists with 6.3 and steals with 2.8 per game and ranked eighth in scoring at 16.1 points per game. A three-time winner of the conference player of the week award this season, including the final two of the season, McCullum has reached double digits in scoring 23 times and has topped the 20-point mark nine times, including a career-best 28 points in a win at Quincy in late February. Twice this season, he's been a rebound short of posting a triple-double in a game. He matched his career high in assists (11) twice this season.

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Pischke earned his first all-conference honor after averaging 12.2 points and 2.3 assists per game during the regular season. Through midweek he was leading the team and was third in the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage at 48.1 (50 of 104). He has reached double figures in scoring 16 times this season and has hit he 20-point barrier in a game five times, including a season-high 27 points against William Jewell on Jan. 24.

"I don't know if there is a young man that I have coached that has got more out of his ability than Pisch," Trost said. "He works extremely hard and plays with a little chip on his shoulder. He is not afraid of the moment and has made big play after big play for us this year. I am excited to have him back for another year."

Lewis won the GLVC regular-season title with a 15-3 mark and the team was ranked 15th in Division II through midweek.

Cunningham earns honor: Cary-Grove graduate Candace Cunningham recently was named to the all-Midwest Conference second team. Cunningham is a senior guard on the Beloit College women's basketball team.

Cunningham was the only player in the MWC to average a double-double this season at 14.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Her 271 rebounds led the league by nearly 60 and set a new program record for rebounds in a season. That 10.8-per-game clip ranks among the top 50 in the statistic nationally among Division III cagers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In 25 games this season, Cunningham registered 15 double-doubles, a top 25 mark in Division III. Her 81.3 free-throw percentage, 2.4 steals per game and 34.4 minutes played per game all ranked in the top five in the MWC this season.

She had a career-high 30 points against Grinnell, becoming the 16th player in Beloit women's history to register 30 or more in a game. Her career-high 17 rebounds against St. Norbert tied for the sixth-most in a game in program history, and her 9 steals against Illinois College earlier this year is second all-time in program history for a single game.

Beloit finished the season at 8-17 overall and 7-11 in conference.

Navigato at Toledo: Nate Navigato, a Geneva alum, played a key role in Toledo recently winning its second straight Mid-American Conference West Division men's basketball title.

Navigato had 17 points and was one of five players on the squad in double figures in the team's 76-57 win over Western Michigan. The win gave Toledo its 24th victory of the season and put it into a tie with Bowling Green for the second-best conference record at 12-5. Through midweek, Toledo had the No. 2 seed in the upcoming MAC tournament.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Navigato's key contributions mirrored that of his entire body of work this season. Through 30 games, he was averaging 12.6 points per game (second on team), while shooting .475 from the field and a team-high .456 from the 3-point line thanks to 77 makes in 169 attempts. His .872 free-throw percentage also ranked first (only 5 missed throws in 39 attempts). Navigato added 3.5 rebounds, 18 steals and 80 assists against only 26 turnovers to that list.

In a recent 57-54 win over Northern Illinois, Navigato had 21 points on the strength of 4-for-6 shooting from the 3-point line and 7-for-9 shooting from the foul line.

Jeremiah at MSOE: Streamwood product Kiana Jeremiah wrapped up her college basketball career this season at Milwaukee School of Engineering. Jeremiah played in 19 games and started 14. She averaged 4.9 points per game, 2.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Over her four-year career in Milwaukee, Jeremiah averaged 4.5 points per game over 83 contests.

Gieseke at St. Francis: Dundee-Crown graduate Paige Gieseke is a sophomore forward on the St. Francis (Joliet) women's basketball team that qualified for the NAIA national tournament for the first time since the 2015-2016 season.

Through midweek Gieseke had played in 16 games and was averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds per game for 23-8 St. Francis, which also went 17-3 in conference play. St. Francis earned a No. 4 seed in its part of the NAIA bracket.

Off at College wants your help: Send statistics and/or information on Fox Valley-area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at mjm890@gmail.com.

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