Barrington's Swanson excelled, and she's not done yet
It was a season for Sophie Swanson unlike any other player has had for Barrington's girls basketball program.
Swanson, only a junior, produced not only the most points in one game for the Fillies but also the most in a season by becoming the first to score more than 700.
However, the Purdue University recruit is more excited about another first for the program.
The Daily Herald All-Area Captain for the Northwest suburbs, has helped lead Barrington to its first appearance in the state finals, thanks in part to her 21-point performance in a 64-33 supersectional win over St. Charles East on Monday night at South Elgin.
The Fillies (29-5) will face Bolingbrook (24-5) at Illinois State's Redbird Arena on Friday in the 4:15 p.m. Class 4A semifinal.
"I didn't really expect it (setting records for most points in a game and season)," Swanson said. "Obviously, our team's success and getting downstate is the most important thing. Those other things (records) just came as a part of it and it's all very exciting."
Exciting is the perfect way to describe Swanson.
She set Barrington's school-record of 40 points, breaking her own mark of 37, in a 62-47 win over Mid-Suburban West co-champion Fremd on Jan 18.
"It's just her explosiveness that separates her from other kids," said Barrington hall of fame coach Babbi Barreiro. Whether it's in the open court or accelerating to the basket, or her step-back 3-pointer, she is so hard to defend. That's what makes her so versatile. She can break you down in so many ways because she is such an explosive athlete."
Barreiro has had her share of prolific scorers over the years, including Big Ten recruits Ashley Berggren and Lindsay Richards.
"We've had so many great kids over the years," said Barrerio, the dean of Mid-Suburban League coaches with her 30 seasons in charge that includes 488 wins. "I've been lucky that way and Sophie is certainly at the top of that list, right up there with players like Lindsay and Ashley.
"As far as numbers go, Sophie's are astounding. She's got 701 (points) this season and went over 1,000 (for her career) in January. She now has more than 1,300 and that's having played only 12 games as a sophomore. Astounding numbers with another season to go."
Swanson could challenge Richards' school-record of 2,182 career points set in 2002. It was Richards' single-season mark of 671 that Swanson broke.
None of Swanson's success has come as a surprise to Barreiro, who saw the young prospect out of Station Middle School in feeder basketball.
"She was pretty special when she walked in," Barreiro said. "We knew she was and she was coming in after she played in our feeder program and we knew she was going to be a special player at Barrington High School. I think we knew and were like 'oh my goodness, this was the first kid who could challenge Lindsay Richards' records.' "
Like Richards' mother Mary Beth, who grew up in Murrysville, PA. and played on Pittsburgh's first women's basketball team, Swanson's mother also grew up out of state and played at St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, IN.
Sophie wears the same number, 31, as her mother.
"One of my mom's teams made the NCAA Division II Elite Eight," Sophie said. "Her teams were really successful. She was a post player. My father played football at Maine South and Ohio University. So just growing up in an athletic family I knew I was probably going to play sports. I played soccer, too, but I kind of stuck with basketball."
Not a bad decision.
Even at a young age, Swanson was beginning to emerge as a top flight player.
"She just had an ability to understand the game and the instincts to be able to get around a player offensively, and shoot off the dribble,"' Barreiro said. "Things like that take time to develop but Sophie already had that set of skills to a degree and that's what separates you apart from other kids at that age."
"'I always loved ballhandling and learning new moves," Swanson said. "I played with older kids for most of my middle school days so I was pushed to get better."
Today, she is still separating herself from others as one the elite players in the state.
"What is so great about Sophie is that she plays both ends of the floor." Barreiro said. "And she certainly loves and knows how to score. She is extremely dynamic when it comes to doing that. I think her step-back 3 is one of the best I've ever seen in the high school game.
"But she can also get down the floor. She can make the basket at one end and then come down and make a steal at the other end. Obviously, she has a ton of talent. She plays and works hard. It's a great combination."
That combination shows up in her stats.
Swanson leads the Fillies in free throw percentage (76%) and averages 21 points a game.
She also leads the Fillies with 114 steals (123 is the school record). She is third on the team in rebounds (169) and assists (53) and owns the highest overall shooting percentage at 46%.
Swanson has also set the single-game record for 3-pointers with 78, breaking Richards' mark of 72.
"It's a great combination." Barreiro said. "She is so difficult to guard because of her quickness and ability to finish at the hoop."
And Swanson loves finishing her season at Redbird Arena more than anything else.
"It's crazy, very surreal," she said. "And I wouldn't want to do it with any other group than this one because it is very special."
With one special player.,
"Sophie's ability to compete and take over a game is special," Barreiro said. "And I think it helps her teammates continue to never give up and believe in themselves.
"Sophie has put a ton of time into basketball to become a better player and I'm just very happy for her. She has worked very hard to secure a scholarship and that has always been a big goal of hers.
"She is one of the most competitive kids I have coached. There are 'hates to lose' kids and 'likes to win' kids, and Sophie is a 'hates to lose'. She just wants to get after it every game and she does."
The Northwest Suburbs All-Area Team
Name School Year Position
Gwen Adler Barrington So. F
Joy Bergstrom St. Viator Sr. G
Lili Duckmann Elk Grove Sr. G
Katy Eidle Hersey Jr. G
Maddy Fay Fremd Jr. F
Meegan Fahy Maine South So. G
Emily Galvan Rolling Meadows Sr. G
Emina Hanic Maine East Sr. C
Meghan Mrowicki Hersey Jr. F
Ashley Oliver Hoffman Estates Sr. G
Emily Pape Maine South Sr. F
Jaclyn Riedl Maine West Jr. F
Molly O'Riordan Barrington So. F
Alyssa Orozco Schaumburg Sr. G/F
Summer Reid Schaumburg Christian Sr. G
Summer Srodulski Prospect Sr. F/C
Madi Stark Palatine Sr. F
*Sophie Swanson Barrington Jr. G
Andie Will Prospect Sr. G
Brianna Wooldridge Fremd Sr. F
* -- Team captain
Honorable mentionNora Ahram, St. Viator, Sr., G; Ava Blagojevich, Maine South, So., G; Asha Cobb, Conant, So., G; Mihami Chokski, Maine East, Sr. G; Madi Dolecki, Schaumburg, So., G/F; Moira Hickey, Rolling Meadows, Sr., G; Laura Mahlum, Barrington, Sr., F; Leah McKenna, Buffalo Grove, Sr. F; Kelsey Neary, Hersey, Jr., G; Jade Thomas, Maine West, Sr., C; Ella Todd, Fremd, Fr., PG; Macy Zei, Prospect, Sr. G