The Daily Herald Lake County All-Area Girls Basketball Team
Ava Bardic StevensonSurgery to repair a broken finger delayed the start of her high school basketball career last season. Since debuting for the Patriots in December of 2018, she has continued to show she can handle the rigors of varsity ball despite her smallish frame. The 5-foot-7 sophomore guard averaged 12 points, 3 steals and 2.2 assists per game. She scored a career-high 21 points against Lake Zurich and led the Patriots with 16 points in their regional-final loss to Lake Forest. "Ava demonstrated the most growth from one year to the next of any player that I have coached," coach Ashley Graham said. "Even though she started last year, this year she was a completely different all-around player. She put a ton of time into her game. Her maturity, toughness, ability to get to the rim, shoot the 3 and defend all improved. I feel so fortunate that she will lead us the next two years at the point-guard position. I always felt confident in her ability to bring the ball up against pressure and get us organized. I know she has high hopes for herself these next two years and with her future in basketball, and she will definitely put in the work to get there."
Margaret Buchert LibertyvilleA banged-up Buchert battled and battled and, as a result, went out with a bang. The senior point guard capped a three-year varsity career by quarterbacking the Wildcats to 23 wins in row and a second-straight North Suburban Conference championship. She missed just 2 games, despite aches to her knees and hip, producing averages of 11.7 points, 3.4 assists, 3 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. She shot 41 % from the floor (33 % from 3) and 74 % from the foul line. She produced 20-point efforts against Homewood-Flossmoor (at Benet) and Fremd (sectional semifinal) and had a season-high 21 points vs. Waukegan. Her miraculous, opposite-hand, running hook shot from past the arc at the buzzer beat Lake Forest. "Margaret was the heart and soul of our team," coach Greg Pedersen said. "She set the tempo, sparked our transition and protected the ball. Her shooting range is impressive, and she has a knack for attacking the basket and finishing off those drives even when she is defended well. Margaret always comes up big in big games." A two-time all-area selection, she will continue her basketball career at DePauw University.
Kate Bullman Grayslake CentralHistoric season for the Rams. Historic season for their best player. The 6-foot-2 guard/forward capped a brilliant four-year varsity career by averaging 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.6 steals and 3.1 blocks per game, as the Rams posted a school-record-tying 30 wins in capturing just the third sectional championship in program history and first since 2011. She had a pair of 30-point games, including a career-high 33 vs. Grant, and also had a triple-double against Grant (21 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). A three-time all-area selection and captain of this year's team, she finished as the Rams' all-time leader in rebounds (984) and blocked shots (290) and ranks third in scoring (1,601). She was an all-area volleyball player in the fall. "Everybody looks at Kate and they're like, 'She's 6-1, 6-2, great athlete, she's got a lot of skills,' " coach Steve Ikenn said. "What they don't know about Kate is the drive she has. From the day she walked into this building, she wanted to be great. She has never been satisfied. She's her own worst critic." Bullman will continue her basketball career at Illinois State University.
Lydia Crow LibertyvilleFew teams defended better than the Wildcats, and few players defended better or harder than the 5-foot-8 senior guard. Funny, considering she made a reputation on varsity as a shooter, particularly from the arc. With career totals of 1,156 points and 255 3-pointers, Crow leaves the program as its all-time leader in both categories. While she didn't score as much as she did the last two years, she was no less valuable to the Wildcats, who won 27 games. She averaged 9.3 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 1.6 assists per game in her fourth varsity campaign, while shooting 30 % from the arc. "No one outworks Lydia Crow," coach Greg Pedersen said. "Every practice and every game is an example of her motor. She just goes hard. As a shooter, Lydia can light it up with 3s, yet she also developed a midrange game and attacks to the basket, and she knows how to use her body to shoot in traffic. Best of all, Lydia really developed into our best defender because of the energy she brought, her refusal to take a play off, and her knack for shutting down opposing shooters. A three-time all-area selection, Crow will continue her basketball career at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
MK Drevline Grayslake CentralMK was OK. Last season. This season, MK was way better than OK. After contributing off the bench in helping the Rams go undefeated in Northern Lake County Conference play last season, the junior guard flourished in a starting role. She helped the Rams repeat as NLCC champs (14-0 again) and advance to a Class 3A supersectional by averaging 9.5 points, 2.1 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game. She shot 36 % from the arc and 85 % from the free-throw line. She sparked the Rams in their sectional-final win over St. Viator at Crystal Lake South by scoring 8 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter. She buried a trio of 3-pointers against Montini in the supersectional. "She has really stepped up her game this season," coach Steve Ikenn said. "MK has gone from a shooter off our bench to a feared scorer. She can shoot from the outside as in the past, but now she can also score off the dribble, run the point if needed and she has become a solid defender and a vocal leader."
Emily Fisher LibertyvilleThe Wildcats waited 10 games before unveiling their promising freshman, who was sidelined due to a back injury. Wildcats fans didn't have to wait long to see her flash her potential, which is good enough that she already has an offer from Iowa State. Once the 5-foot-11 guard made her season debut in Libertyville's winter tournament, the Wildcats didn't lose. Fisher's first loss as a high school player was in the sectional semifinals against Fremd. In her abbreviated season (22 games), she averaged 9.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game. She shot 45 % from the floor. "Made an immediate impact on the team upon her arrival and provided an inside presence on offense and defense that made us stronger," coach Greg Pedersen said. "Has a knack for getting into the paint and finding an angle to score or setting up teammates when she's doubled. Her shot is developing nicely, too."
Morgan Frank MundeleinFor four varsity seasons, she stuffed the stat sheet. And while the Mustangs didn't do likewise in the win column, she still had the right stuff for what her program needed. "We counted on Morgan to do a lot as we tried to develop our younger players," coach Greg Dorgan said. "Unfortunately, some experienced players did not continue in our program and we were inconsistent at point guard to help facilitate. Morgan kept a positive attitude, despite us losing games, trying to improve her own game for the Division I level, while trying to make players around her better." The 5-foot-11 guard/forward became MHS's all-time leading scorer (1,557 points) in the Mustangs' final game, capping a season that included averages of 16.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.1 steals, 2.8 blocks and 1.6 assists per game. She had a triple-double (20 points, 12 rebounds, 10 blocks) against North Chicago. Her 226 career blocks are unofficially the most in school history, as well. "She'll be remembered for filling up the stat sheet both offensively and defensively," Dorgan said. A three-time all-area selection, Frank will continue her basketball career at Colgate University.
Peyton Gerdes Grayslake NorthWhen two-time all-area guard Savannah Guenther graduated last year, it left a void for the Knights, who did not have a to-go scorer on their roster. They found her soon enough in the freshman, who quickly found her scoring touch and confidence after being held scoreless coming off the bench in her varsity debut. The 5-foot-11 forward averaged 12.2 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and her numbers increased once she secured a starting spot. She posted 7 double-doubles and tossed in a season-high 24 points in a late-season game against Grant. "It's tough for a freshman to fit in on a varsity team, but Peyton fit in seamlessly thanks to her maturity and supportive teammates," coach Roger Lass said. "She can hit the 3 and dominate in the post when there's a mismatch. I look forward to the next three years to build on her skill set and see her improve."
Ella Gilbertson Lake ZurichShe rarely missed a free throw, or an opportunity to deliver in the clutch at either end. And she then missed a lot of games. Her senior season ended a month prematurely due to a high-ankle sprain. In the 15 games she played before her injury, she was often the best player on the floor, posting averages of 14.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.1 steals. She shot 44 % from the floor, including 45 % from the arc, and 91 % from the stripe. She poured in a career-high 27 points against Waukegan and posted 3 double-doubles. A three-time All-North Suburban Conference and two-time all-area selection, the 6-foot guard finished sixth in program history in scoring (1,077 points) and 12th in rebounds. "Ella's impact on our program is far-ranging -- obviously a great player, her leadership, her example-setting, her work with our younger varsity players as well as Junior Bears," coach Chris Bennett said of his four-year varsity player. "Her impact on our program will be felt for many years to come. She is a very special kid. Don't think I have ever seen her without a smile on her face." Gilbertson will continue her basketball career at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Lauren Huber LibertyvilleNeed a lift? Call Huber. With the Wildcats trailing host Stevenson by 17 points early in the fourth quarter on Dec. 11, Huber helped rally her team to victory. She scored a career-high 22 points, commencing Libertyville's 23-game winning streak. The spark and energy provided by the 5-foot-10 junior guard was the norm all season. A repeat all-area selection and three-year varsity starter, she averaged 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game. She shot 37.5 % from the arc and 79 % percent from the free-throw line. "Continues to improve and presents a well-balanced skill set," coach Greg Pedersen said. "At this stage in her career, there's really nothing she can't do. Lauren has worked her way into becoming a legit three-point threat, and she can rebound well and find teammates in position to score." Huber has offers from Eastern Illinois University and Valparaiso University.
Daniella Jarrell Vernon HillsThe Cougars graduated four-time all-area post player Kayla Caudle (DePaul) and featured a roster this season with eight seniors. Enter Jarrell, a 5-foot-10 junior guard playing her third season on varsity. She scored from all areas of the court, rebounded and led. "Daniella filled so many roles for us this season," coach Paul Brettner said. "We lost some key players to graduation and she filled about every void we had. She made everyone around her better on a daily basis. On top of that, she was a terrific leader. I'm glad we get another year of her." Jarrell averaged 10.2 points, 7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game, helping the Cougars post 19 wins. She was their lone representative on the All-Central Suburban League North Division squad.
Ella Karg WaucondaThe Bulldogs graduated 2019 all-area captain Allie Tylka but followed up their 21-win campaign with another 20 victories. Success like that rarely happens without a reliable point guard. Karg played better last season in her second year as a varsity starter, and the junior's improvement continued this winter. She averaged 13.6 points, 5.4 assists, 2.2 steals and 2.3 rebounds per game. A 75-percent foul shooter, she scored a career-high 27 points against Antioch and produced, in total, four 20-point efforts after having none her first two seasons. "Ella just keeps getting better every year and took some huge strides in her game this year," coach Jaime Dennis said. "She not only proved she is a scoring threat inside and out but continued to impress me with her exceptional passing ability. I have been very pleased with how she sees things on the court and her development as a leader. She is fun to watch and a pleasure to coach."
Avery King StevensonThree years ago, with her Patriots playing Warren superstars Kaylen Dickson and Jordyn Hughes, coach Ashley Graham told then-freshman King to go in the game. King's reply? "No." Graham and King laugh about it now. Graham beams when talking about the growth of King, who finishes her four-year varsity career seventh in program history for points (1,245) and second for blocks (191). This season, the two-time all-area selection averaged 14.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.5 assists and 2.2 blocks per game. "The growth she has made both as a person and player has been remarkable," Graham said. "Each year she was determined to work on an area of her game and get better, and each year she did just that. She was able to score in many ways, whether it be driving to the basket, pulling up or hitting the 3. This year she meant so much to us offensively and defensively. She was someone we could count on night in and night out to score the basketball and make huge defensive plays on the other end. Those usually ended up in blocked shots." King will continue her basketball career at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Amanda Kocialkowski Grayslake CentralThe 5-foot-10 forward started last season but played a defensive-stopper role, scoring in double figures only once. This season, she produced 21 double-digit scoring efforts, including a season-high 20 points vs. Lakes, while still providing shutdown defense. She averaged 11 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 steals and 1.8 assists per game for the Class 3A Crystal Lake South sectional champs. "She's so unheralded," coach Steve Ikenn said. "She plays amazing defense. She can go down and shut somebody out [because] she's big (5-10) and quick, and then she quietly scores 14 points for you. She does a great job at both ends of the floor."
Jazzlyn Linbo GrantHer confidence keeps growing, and if the 6-foot-2 junior forward/center keeps growing physically, look out. After an all-area campaign last season, she added an improved shot. She averaged 15 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks per game in her third season on varsity. She scored a career-high 35 points against Wheeling and followed up by pouring in 30 (six 3-pointers) in a win over North Chicago. She shot 35 % from the arc. "Jazzy is an excellent example of a student-athlete," coach Kevin Geist said. "Unselfish, humble and always willing to make others better. She is a coach on the court. Jazzlyn is a player who leads the team by example. She is always in control of the team and does the hard work necessary. She communicates on defense to get everyone in position, goes after every loose ball and rebound and will also block shots to control the game. If we needed a big play to be made Jazzlyn answered the call time and time again, whether it was to score, get a key stop on defense, or to make the extra pass." Linbo, who was an all-area volleyball player in the fall, has an offer from Indiana State University.
Kaytlyn Matz Carmel CatholicA starter on the Corsairs' Class 3A sectional-championship team two years, she missed her entire junior season after tearing her left ACL. This season, the 6-foot senior guard/forward made up for time lost on the court. She led the Corsairs in minutes per game (30), while averaging 7.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 1.7 deflections per contest. She was also the team leader in both three-point percentage (31) and made 3-pointers (30), and had the best assist-to-turnover ratio. "Kaytlyn was our captain and leader on and off the floor," said coach Ben Berg, whose team won 19 games. "She was asked to be our point guard this year when she played a stretch 4 as a sophomore. Kaytlyn did a little bit of everything for us this year. Handling the ball the majority of time on offense, she also gave us scoring. She defended multiple positions and was our second-leading rebounder. Her all-around play and leadership were big keys to our success."
Simone Sawyer StevensonAn all-area player as a freshman last winter, the 5-foot-10 guard started this season with a 25-point game, and while she didn't better that output, she still produced at a consistent rate offensively for the second year in a row. She scored in double figures in all but seven games, scoring 20 or more points six times. She averaged 13.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.8 assists for the 25-game winners. She has 892 career points. "Simone is one of the most athletically gifted athletes I have been blessed to coach," coach Ashley Graham said. "Simone's value to our team is easily seen in each offensive statistical category, but she also had to guard the other team's best player night in and night out. This is such a hard thing to accomplish when we need her to also perform offensively. She worked tirelessly on both ends of the floor and never wavered. She took huge strides forward in her ability to shoot the ball. We really could count on her to take someone off the bounce or shoot the 3." Sawyer has offers from St. Louis University and Indiana State University.
Kiley Szmajda WaucondaShe's not be the tallest post player, but the numbers she posted were gigantic. The 5-foot-11 junior had a breakout campaign in her third season on varsity, nearly producing a triple-double (18 points, 9 rebounds, 9 blocks) vs. Harvard in a regional semifinal and posting a pair of double-doubles in one day in the Northern Illinois Holiday Classic. For the season, she averaged 14.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game. She shot 45 % from the floor and 72 % from the foul line. She scored a career-high 27 points against Antioch. "Kiley really stepped up her point production this year," coach Jaime Dennis said. "Although she had some big games last year, she was a lot more consistent this year and more confident in her shot selection. Last year she got to kind of fly under the radar with Allie (Tylka, all-area captain) on the team, but this year she really stepped up and became someone the other team had to plan for and worry about."
Alayna Soukup Lake ZurichShe made a quick adjustment to varsity basketball as a freshman last season. This winter, she made another quick adjustment. After star teammate and Bears leading scorer Ella Gilbertson went down with a season-ending injury, the point guard produced games of 36 (career high), 22 and 20 points, as her breakout campaign continued. Once teams adjusted to Soukup in her new role, she adjusted again, scoring in double figures in each of the Bears' last four games. She finished with averages of 13.4 points, 3.1 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. She shot 39 % from the floor, including 34 % from the arc, and 81 % from the line. She scored in double figures in 24 of 30 games. "Alayna is one of the hardest workers I have ever coached, and her game this year showed it," coach Chris Bennett said. "The work she has put in has made her a multitalented guard who can do so many things -- shoot, drive, post up. And her defense is becoming elite as well. She has had a great two years and an even brighter future ahead."
Jordan Wood Carmel CatholicThe 6-foot-4 guard/forward had scholarship offers from Iowa and Illinois before she played her first high school game. Would she live up to the hype? Yes, Wood would. And who would thought she would quickly emerge as the best scoring threat on a team that would win 19 games and earn a regional-final berth? Wood averaged a team-best 14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.7 deflections per game. She made 71 % of her free throws and led the team in blocks with 40, as well. Carmel's lone representative on the All-East Suburban Catholic Conference squad, she scored a season-high 24 points against Fenwick. "Jordan was a dynamic player for us at both ends of the floor," coach Ben Berg said. "She has the unique combination of the size of a post player but the skills of a perimeter player. She had the ability to score inside and outside and at times be a lockdown defender. Jordan will continue to get better and better over the next three years."
Mackenzie Arden (Wauconda So. G), Lilli Burton (Round Lake Fr. G), Lauryn Cartee (Grayslake Central Sr. G), MaCalyn Flores (Grant So. PG), Macy Kocen (Warren Sr. F), Katie Lach (Carmel Catholic Sr. G), Avery Larson (Antioch So. F/C), Madeline Mussay (Grayslake Central Sr. G), Margueret Spear (Lake Zurich Sr. G), Grace Sullivan (Carmel Catholic So. C), Rosie Tekampe (Lakes Jr. PG), Nikki Ware (Stevenson Jr. PG)