Arni's all-around game sparks Geneva
The consensus on Geneva junior girls basketball standout Cassidy Arni is this: She's a hot mess for opposing defenses to contain.
"She has good size and strength for a perimeter player, but she will look to post up every so often," St. Charles East coach Josh Foster said. "She is a fantastic finisher around the rim and in transition."
And this from Batavia coach Kevin Jensen, who deftly pointed out teams from the DuKane Conference (that contains Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North), made up the entire Class 4A Bartlett sectional field, and six of the eight teams in the loop played in regional championship games -- emphasizing the league's rep as one of the toughest around.
"One of the things with Cassidy is she is so solid at so many things on the court," Jensen said. "She shoots the ball well, she finishes well, she drives well and she defends well. She might not be the best on her team at each individual skill, but she is so good at each one that it makes her such a complete player. Add that to her strength and athleticism and she is a very difficult matchup for any individual or team. What I have admired the most is she seems to always be active and involved in every possession on either side of the ball."
Jensen's observations are backed up by the numbers. Arni, a unanimous all-DuKane selection as a 6-0 guard-forward, averaged 14.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.5 steals for a Vikings team that went 25-5 and won the DuKane title with a perfect 14-0 mark. She shot 52 percent from 2-point range, 28 percent from 3 and hit 66 percent of her 128 free-throw attempts.
Arni's efforts have landed her the distinction of being the 2022 captain of the Daily Herald All-Area Fox girls basketball team.
"Cass had a huge year for us," said Geneva coach Sarah Meadows, whose team won a regional title (13th since 2008) and reached the sectional semifinals this season. "She is so talented. Cass is a player who gives it her all, all the time. She scores, passes, boards and guards the other team's best."
Arni, an all-DuKane pick as a sophomore last year, said multiple aspects of her game have improved, but there is more to still be done.
"My shooting got better," she said. "Some games were better, but I need to get it more consistent. Finishing and getting as big as I can down low and driving are some of my strengths. I did those pretty well this season. I like driving to the hoop. It definitely comes more naturally. One of the things I try to do my best at is to keep being more versatile."
Arni said she's not concerned in the least about mixing up underneath.
"I love contact," she said. "It makes you stronger and it prepares you for future games. You never know how the contact is going to be or how the refs will call a game. A lot of contact will get you better. It will never do negative to you."
Arni added her leadership skills also took a leap forward this season.
"I like the concept of it," she said. "It's on you. Others on the team look up to you. You have to have it in the back of your head that you are a leader and you have to help others on the team. It's not something you can do if you don't try hard and if you don't have the right mindset for it."
Meadows added: "Cass cares about the team and her teammates."
Geneva senior forward Zosia Wrobel, also a 2022 Daily Herald All-Area selection, called Arni the most hardworking person she knows.
"She has the purest heart and always works her butt off on the court," she said. "I have been with her for three years now and I have seen how much she has grown. I am beyond proud of her."
Junior forward Lauren Slagle has played with Arni even longer than Wrobel.
"This upcoming AAU season with be my sixth playing with Cass and I do not think anyone better could have won this award," Slagle said, referring to the Daily Herald All-Area captain honor. "The way Cass plays is so much fun to watch and to play with her. She is so competitive and reads the floor so well, which makes her that much of a better player. Cass is so supportive to all her teammates and I am proud to call her my teammate and friend."
Arni, who teaches park district volleyball classes with her mom in her spare time and would like to study something related to sports in college, lists math as her favorite subject at Geneva.
"It's fun, it's like a puzzle," she said.
Arni's basketball prowess, on the other hand, has no puzzle pieces or mystery to it.
"Her skill set has it all," Meadows said. "I'm excited for her. She is a great basketball player with a very bright future."
The Fox All-Area Team
Name School Year Pos
* Cassidy Arni, Geneva, Junior, Guard-Forward
Brooke Biggins, St. Edward, Senior, Guard
Brooke Carlson, Batavia, Sophomore, Guard
Taylor Charles, Burlington Central, Senior, Forward
Sofia Corral, Aurora Central Catholic, Freshman, Guard
Caroline Croft, South Elgin, Senior, Guard
Lexi Diorio, St. Charles East, Sophomore, Guard
Jori Heard, Huntley, Senior, Forward
Alyssa Hughes, St. Charles North, Junior, Guard
Emily Hurst, Rosary, Senior, Forward
Baylei Johnson, Larkin, Junior, Forward
Torrie Kortan, St. Charles East, Senior, Guard
Mackenzie Leahy, Jacobs, Senior, Guard
Riley Mont, West Aurora, Senior, Guard
Kree Nunnally, Crystal Lake South, Junior, Guard
Jessie Ozzauto, Huntley, Junior, Guard
Laney Stark, Bartlett, Sophomore, Guard
Tessa Towers, Batavia, Senior, Center
Ella Winterhalder, South Elgin, Senior, Guard
Zosia Wrobel, Geneva, Senior, Forward
* Fox All-Area Captain
Honorable mention Alexia Alfaro, St. Edward, Senior, Guard
Jocelyn Bardesi, Elgin, Sophomore, Guard
Sammi Campanelli, Huntley, Junior, Guard
Becca Carani, Burlington Central, Senior, Guard
Avery Cartee, Hampshire, Sophomore, Forward
Riley Cwinski, Aurora Central Catholic, Freshman, Forward
Rylie DuVal, Burlington Central, Senior, Guard
Kylee Gehrt, Batavia, Sophomore, Guard
Lauren Hawkins, Rosary, Senior, Guard
Ashley Herzing, Hampshire, Sophomore, Guard
Katharine Marshall, Kaneland, Junior, Guard-Forward
Amadea Montijo, Bartlett, Sophomore, Guard
Leah Palmer, Geneva, Sophomore, Guard
Cali Papez, St. Charles East, Senior, Center
McKenzie Schueler, Kaneland, Senior, Guard
Abby Semerau, Harvest Christian Academy, Senior, Guard
Reagan Sipla, St. Charles North, Sophomore, Guard-Forward
Erin Stack, St. Charles North, Senior, Forward
Caitlyn Tolentino, South Elgin, Junior, Guard
Aspen Weeks, West Aurora, Junior, Guard
Raina Yang, South Elgin, Junior, Guard