Going out on top: Carlson leaves Batavia as all-time leading scorer while leading Bulldogs to 1st sectional title

When asked their thoughts on Batavia senior girls basketball star Brooke Carlson, opposing coaches came pouring out of the woodwork.

“She plays the game at a different speed than most others,” St. Charles North coach Mike Tomczak said. “What makes her so difficult to guard is her ability to hurt you from different levels. When she started out four years ago, she was very one-dimensional, insomuch that she attacked the basket and scored inside, but her outside game was not there yet. It is a huge credit to her and all the work she has done over the years to become not just a competent outside shooter, but an excellent outside shooter.”

“The toughest thing about her is her quickness in getting from the 3-point line to the basket,” Wheaton North coach Tyler Bantz said. “She has a really explosive first step and can typically get to the basket in one dribble and two steps. You think you are in a good spot defensively, and with her first step, she can get around you quickly and it’s hard for help defenders to get there in time. Then, she shoots 75% at the rim going right or left, so she’s going to finish even if it’s contested or there’s contact.”

The Colorado State-bound Carlson took her game to new levels this year, helping her Bulldogs team win the DuKane Conference title and advance all the way to a Class 4A supersectional game, ending with a 29-6 mark. Her efforts also have earned her the distinction of being the Captain of the 2024 Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area girls basketball team.

“It’s hard to say things I haven’t already said about her,” Batavia coach Kevin Jensen said. “She is an incredible competitor. She has turned herself into our hardest practice player we have ever had. Every day is like a scene from the ‘The Last Dance.’ And that’s just what we get to see at practice. The other part that has separated her from many others is the hours and hours no one else sees. She’s constantly working on her game.”

Carlson finished her high school career in a blaze of glory, averaging 22.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.9 steals (team-high 160 deflections) and 2.5 assists per game. The 5-8, 120-pound guard shot an impressive 48% from the field on 550 attempts (Batavia’s next highest shot attempts player logged 272). She hit on 58% of her shots from 2 and nailed 50 of 182 three-point attempts (27%).

“Brooke has spent hours training and working hard on her craft. That makes her a good basketball player,” Geneva coach Sarah Meadows said. “She is super quick and plays aggressive. She loves a fast-paced game because it plays into her strengths. She has worked on her shot over the years and that part of her game has helped her as well.”

“Brooke is an elite player due to her ability to break down defenses in the paint paired with an ability to hit deep-range shots,” St. Charles East coach Katie Claussner said. “Despite every defender on the court knowing where she is at all times, she is shifty enough to dribble through three or four defenders. She is highly successful as a result, creating open shots for not only herself, but for her teammates as well.”

And then there’s the foul shooting. Carlson got to the foul line an impressive 251 times, making 207 of those at an 82% clip to further cause opposing teams to pull their collective hair out. According to one national statistical service, she ranked 12th in the country this season in free throws made.

“I think of her as a scorer,” said Fremd coach Dave Yates, whose team defeated Batavia in a Class 4A supersectional to advance to the state finals. “She can score from deep, she can hit a mid-range shot and she’s super-gifted as far as getting to the basket and drawing fouls. The first time we played them (a Batavia win), she had 24 of them (free throw attempts; she made 22) in one game and scored 39 points. We got to witness it firsthand.”

Carlson felt her pace of play was something that went up a level of two this season.

“I need to go slow and then go fast to keep defenders off track,” Carlson said. “My IQ with the game also has grown throughout the years.”

So has her leadership skills, she said. “My leadership has improved greatly. I have become more and more of a leader each year and have grown into that role,” Carlson said. “Leadership is trial and error to see how different people respond in certain ways. The key is to be the best leader for everyone and I think I do a pretty good job at it.”

Here’s another stat that jumps off the page: Jensen noted Carlson has taken more charges than anyone in Batavia program history. She took 14 this year.

“Brooke literally can do it all for us,” he said.

“I can score and also use my body,” Carlson said. “It shows I will sacrifice my body for the team. Taking charges means a lot to us. It’s an energetic play and it shows how much love I have for the team and how much I will do for them.”

Carlson said all the points and other gaudy numbers put up this season would have no meaning if not for the teammates she played with.

“The friendships are indescribable, especially this year,” she said. “It’s so amazing to be part of this team. We love each other so much on and off the court. It’s been a blast. I am proud of this team and how well we did. It’s not about one person. They call it a team for a reason. My main goal was always to be the best teammate you can be. I don’t want anybody sticking out different than anybody else. I’m just a normal person that likes to go out and play basketball.”

Carlson leaves Batavia as the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,225 points) and also holds career marks for assists, steals and the aforementioned charges taken.

“I want to be remembered at Batavia as a good basketball player, but an even better person,” she said. “More of a person that was nice to everybody and gave back to the community and to this team.”

Jensen labeled Carlson “an amazing young woman.”

“She makes a point to interact with younger feeder players,” he noted. “Brooke will go to their practices and games to see them play. She is one of our ‘Dog Pound’ leaders, meaning she organizes student sections at other events at our school. I cannot imagine we’ll get another one like her again, but I know a whole lot of young Batavia girls will certainly try.”

  Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area girls basketball captain Brooke Carlson from Batavia. John Starks/
  Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area girls basketball captain Brooke Carlson from Batavia. John Starks/
  Daily Herald Fox Valley All-Area girls basketball captain Brooke Carlson from Batavia. John Starks/
Batavia’s Brooke Carlson drives toward the basket during the Class 4A Batavia Sectional final against Geneva on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network
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