Crenshaw's tenacity, toughness prove tough to match for Dundee-Crown
If there was anyone who disliked trying to snare a rebound away from Dundee-Crown junior Alyssa Crenshaw more than the Chargers' opponents, it was her own teammates who had to do it every day in practice.
There's a reason everyone at Dundee-Crown calls her DD -- for all the double-doubles she ends up with.
"She's always there," senior Payton Schmidt said. "That's why we call her DD. She's always there for the rebound. She might not be the tallest girl on the court but she definitely has the biggest heart."
At 5-foot-9, Crenshaw did give away a couple inches against many of the post players she went against, yet never backed down.
She ended up averaging 15.2 points per game and 9 rebounds, leading Dundee-Crown to a school-record 29 wins, their first outright conference championship in 16 years, and their first sectional championship in 17 years.
Crenshaw is this year's Captain of the Daily Herald Fox All-Area Girls Basketball team, the first from Dundee-Crown since Brittney Daum in 2005-06.
A varsity starter since her freshman year, Chargers coach Sarah Miller has seen continued growth in Crenshaw's game.
"Having her on varsity the last three years has been awesome," Miller said. "She loves the game, loves to watch the game, loves to put in extra time when coaches aren't watching. Every single day bringing an attitude of wanting to be pushed. I feel now as an upperclassmen she has shown such improvement with an inside-outside game. She has a great shot. And just confidence in everything she does out there.
"She's versatile. She can play in the post but she can play outside on the perimeter and that goes with her defense too. She has gone up against so many posts and players on the perimeter and I think it shows the versatility she has as a player."
Crenshaw grew up in Elgin before moving to Lake in the Hills. Her parents Tim and Cory got her started in basketball early, Alyssa recalling shooting baskets at the park with her dad when she was 4 or 5.
Crenshaw improved her game playing for Illinois Hoop Dreams since sixth grade with several other top area players from Cary-Grove, Huntley, Burlington Central, Marengo and others. She played volleyball at Dundee-Crown her freshman and sophomore seasons before sticking to basketball this year.
Her knack of coming down with almost any rebound has earned her multiple nicknames including "Hoover" from her middle school coach Jeff Buetjuer for the way she sucks up the rebounds like a vacuum cleaner.
Opposing coaches certainly have to be prepared for that tenacity.
"Alyssa is such a tough matchup to plan for because a lot of her damage is done on offensive boards," Burlington Central coach Collin Kalamatas said. "You can have good positioning on her, but she's so physical and competitive that she'll still find a way to grab the board. She is so physical and has great touch around the basket. If she gets the ball within five feet of the basket, you might as well put two points on the board. We really tried to smother her before she even caught it because she's so skilled once the ball is in her hands in the post. On top of all that, she's a classy kid that plays the right way. I'm happy to see all the success she has had this year."
Dundee-Crown had to be nearly perfect to hold off Burlington Central for the FVC crown, finishing 17-1 to the Rockets' 16-2.
The Chargers followed by winning a regional title, then knocking off Huntley and Barrington to claim their first sectional title since 2003. Crenshaw scored 19 points in the win over Barrington, hitting the go-ahead jumper in the final two minutes.
She was quite efficient all season, shooting 50.3 percent from the field and making 137 of 175 free throws for 78.3 percent.
For all the team and individual success, she said the bond she had with her teammates is her lasting memory of the special season.
"I'm definitely going to remember the wins we had but definitely the memories we made like bus rides to and from games," Crenshaw said. "Our team bonding. They are my family.
"It (29 wins) was a great feeling especially doing it with my family and my teammates. We're all really close. I was not surprised at all because I knew from the start we could be a great team and get it done. Everyone on the team plays a crucial role."
Lake Park ended Dundee-Crown's season in an electric atmosphere Monday at the South Elgin supersectional, but not before Crenshaw again showed her versatile game. She led the Chargers with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while stealing the ball a couple times from Lake Park all-stater Dorrine Rogers.
Crenshaw looked just as impressive with her quick feet and long arms guarding Rogers 25 feet from the basket as she did banging in the block against talented and taller players like Kelby Bannerman from Hampshire. She averaged 2 steals and 2.1 deflections a game.
"I honestly like playing girls who play more on the perimeter and have better handles to give myself a challenge," Crenshaw said. "Prove to myself and everyone that I'm not just guarding a specific spot, I can play defense all over."
Crenshaw said she wants to play college basketball. She has an offer from St. Xavier and hopes to get more this summer.
Miller is convinced that Crenshaw's strengths as a two-way player will pay dividends, not just for her future at the college level but a big senior year back at Dundee-Crown.
"She wants the challenge," Miller said of guarding the opponent's best player. "She's proven she can play with any of them.
"I just think her defense is phenomenal. There's been so many games where we've stuck her on the best player. She's getting a hand on every ball every possession, getting a hand on every single rebound. Her passion for the game and the intensity she plays with, everyone feeds off it. Her team rallies around her. She does so many little things that inspire her teammates to do more."
Getting to know
Favorite pre-game meal:
Sometimes I'll listen to country, sometimes rap, pop.
Favorite pro sports team:
Golden State Warriors
Favorte class in school:
My mom and dad
The game I'll never forget:
Freshman year beating McHenry.
Quote to live by:
"When you are tired and sore and you can't do more, do more."