Lake County girls basketball notes: Plenty of highlights from Thanksgiving tourneys

The Carmel girls basketball team has a great 6-game season-opening sample size to work with.

The Corsairs started the season 5-1, which included a 4-1 marker at the Naperville Central/Benet Academy Thanksgiving tournament. Carmel scored wins over Homewood Flossmoor (61-38), Proviso West (65-30), Naperville Central (60-31) and Rockford Guilford (50-33). Carmel's only loss was a 61-44 decision to Benet Academy. Carmel won its four tournament games by an average margin of 26 points.

Coach Ben Berg said 3-point shooting has been a huge positive with the Corsairs drilling 34% of its 3s, a higher percentage than they logged last year.

"They have impressed me with being resilient with the pressures of success," Berg said.

Senior Jordan Wood is averaging 15.8 points per game, while junior Keira Jackson is shooting 47% from 3 off the bench, while junior Ashley Schlabowske is the team's best on-ball perimeter defender, Berg noted.

Stevenson update:

The Patriots downed Chicago Phillips, Fenwick and host New Trier over Thanksgiving and lost by a bucket to Loyola Academy.

"It was great to see our team play in competitive games against good competition," Stevenson coach Ashley Graham said. "Though we returned three starters, we lost a lot of our scoring in the two who graduated. It was nice to see our new system put into place and have it play to our strengths. The kids are adapting well and filling some different roles. We are still looking to improve on the defensive side of the ball."

Graham said Emory Klatt "is the state that sticks out." And with good reason. Klatt is averaging 25 points and 17 rebounds (not a typo) a contest.

"Emory's stats speak for themselves," she said. "What sets her apart right now, besides her efficiency and all the stats, is how hard she plays and works. She empties her tank each time on the floor and we couldn't ask for more on the offensive end. She has a strong desire to get better and get the most out of her abilities. She plays each game with such fearlessness."

Graham added Stevenson is shooting 42% from the field, "and I feel good about that," she said. "We are taking high-percentage shots and getting the ball to the correct people within our system."

Kate Arne and Nisha Musunuri also have been key for the Patriots. "Kate's growth from last year to this year has been tremendous," Graham said. "Nisha has been playing at such a good tempo offensively. She is continuing to grow in the role of a scorer, but she is so coachable."

Team chemistry, Graham added, has been off the charts with words such as togetherness and camaraderie being used. "This is one of the more close-knit teams we have had," she said. "They are a job to be around and truly love the game and each other."

Libertyville update:

The Wildcats beat Barrington, Buffalo Grove and Grayslake Central at Thanksgiving and lost to Hersey and Maine South. Junior Kate Rule and senior Emily Fisher were all-tournament picks at BG-hosted Bison Classic.

"Kate has been aggressive on offense and has provided scoring this season," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said. "In addition to scoring, Emily has provided ball-handling and selfless passing."

Free-throw shooting couldn't have been any better in the Cats' 63-61 win over Barrington. They hit all 16 of their foul shots.

"Our group has corrected a bunch of bad habits after the first game of the season against Hersey, and we've played better each time out," Libertyville coach Greg Pedersen said. "We've had contributions from nine kids so far this season, which alleviates the pressure on our top performers. We had a nail-biter with Maine South and we missed some looks we were happy with. We're confident as the season progresses that experience against really tough competition will pay off."

Rachel Rule also has played well out of the gates, particularly on the defensive end, Pedersen noted. "Rachel is doing everything she can in guarding other teams' best players," he said.

Grayslake North update:

The Knights went 3-2 at Mundelein and tied for second place and stood at 3-3 overall to start the week. Highlights in Mundelein included wins over Wheeling (59-37), Grant (57-52) and the host Mustangs (45-40).

Peyton Gerdes and Makayla Campbell were all-tournament picks. Coach Brian Frericks said strong rebounding has been a major positive. The Knights average 35.8 rebounds a game with Gerdes (12.0 rpg) and Campbell (10.2 rpg) leading the way.

Offensively, Frericks has seen flashes of excellence. "When our offense is flowing, we are a difficult team to stop," he noted. "Last year through six games we were averaging 41 points compared to 51 points through six games this year. We still have a lot we can improve on, but when we are clicking, we are a very strong team offensively."

Gerdes, third-team all-state last year, is averaging 25.8 points and 2.7 steals per game to go with that high rebounding total. "She is following up last year with a stronger start," Frericks said. "She has been a leader on both ends of the court."

Campbell averages 8 points. "Makayla is really stepping up in a big way to start her junior season," Frericks said. "She has done a great job finishing at the rim and contesting shots."

Also of note has been the play of Regan Kyzynowski, who averages 5 points per game, a statistic that tells very little of her true value. "Reagan has been a great utility player for us," Frericks said. "She is often tasked with guarding the opposing team's best wing, bringing the ball up for us, playing on the wing and doing a little bit of everything. Her contributions are much more than her stats show."

Vernon Hills:

The Cougars got off to a great start, going 4-1 at their own Thanksgiving tournament and taking second behind tournament-champion Lake Forest (5-0).

While Vernon Hills went 4-1, coach Paul Brettner would like to see the team pump up its shooting percentages. The Cougars shot 39% from 2 and 23% from 3. "We need to get these up by taking better shots," he said.

On the flip side, Brettner said strong team defense has been a difference-maker. "We have played good defense so far," he said. "If we can keep improving, we can be a tough defensive team."

Grace Koepke averaged a double-double in the tournament, while Elyse Davis, Brettner noted, played great defense, and Kailee Irvin, he said, played well off the bench.

Grayslake Central update:

The Rams were tested at the competitive Bison Classic hosted by Buffalo Grove. Central went 1-4 there and tied for fifth. The Rams beat Crystal Lake Central and lost to host BG, Libertyville, Hersey and Barrington. Madison Hoffmann earned all-tournament honors there.

"Being a young, inexperienced team, I have been impressed by our resilience and the chemistry we are developing," Central coach Steve Ikenn said.

Katelyn Marcelain, Annie Wolff and Katie Dinsmoe have started strong for the Rams. Marcelain is a sophomore who had not played a varsity minute coming into the season, Ikenn noted. "Katelyn is starting at a forward spot and has adapted well to that role," he said. "She is rebounding and defending well against more veteran opponents."

Wolff, Ikenn added, has done well moving into a starting role, "and has played a solid all-around game, including recording a double-double," he said.

Dinsmore has gone up against the likes of standouts such as Libertyville's Fisher, Katy Eidle (Hersey) and Sophie Swanson (Barrington), "and she did a nice job making each of them work hard for everything they got," Ikenn said.

Lake Zurich update:

The Bears split four games at Thanksgiving, losing to Fremd by eight and Geneva by five, while scoring wins over Hampshire (by 18) and Sycamore (by 5).

Senior Baylie Parks (8 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals over the 4 games) and sophomore Molly Friesen (13 points, 4 rebounds) were named to the all-tournament team.

Sophomore Avery Cooper is averaging a double-double at 11.5 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

"I have been impressed by our competitiveness," Lake Zurich coach Chris Bennett said. "We missed our entire first week of practice with more than half our team out with the flu, yet we hung in with state-ranked Fremd and Geneva with both those games being tied with three or four minutes to go."

Grant update:

The Bulldogs were 1-5 to start the week and went 1-4 at Mundelein, defeating Wheeling 52-22 there.

Melissa Ketter earned all-tournament accolades at Mundelein. She had 23 points against Grayslake North and scored 64 points in the tournament. "Melissa has started her final season strong and is a great team captain," Grant coach Andrea Weaver said.

The injury bug hit Grant hard in the tournament with five players being injured, including three starters. "I have been impressed with our ability to persevere," Weaver said. "It was a really tough way to start the season for us, but we still stayed positive during the tournament. The break we had was a good reset for us and we're looking forward to having a strong rest of the season."

Junior Nevada Holm scored 28 points in the tournament, including 14 against Glenbrook South. "Nevada is a strong rebounder," Weaver noted.

Sophomore Madelyn Dunskis came off the bench at Mundelein and scored 24 total points while playing in three of the five games. "I am excited to see what Madelyn will do the rest of the season for us," Weaver said.

Round Lake update:

The Panthers finished fourth at Maine East with a 2-2 mark with wins over the hosts by 30 points and a 20-point triumph over Zion-Benton.

Coach Molly Hennig pointed out the Panthers are holding teams to 35 points per game. "We are excited about how well our defense has led us to start the season," she said.

Round Lake also has been stung by illness. "Many girls were out the past week with the flu," she said. "This provided an opportunity for several players to rise to the occasion of stepping up in many different roles, which in turn will help us as a team as the season progresses."

Lilli Burton is averaging 15.5 points, 5.5 steals and 4 assists per game. "Lilli has taken a huge step forward as our leader and point guard," Hennig said.

Tia Barnes, a transfer from Grant, had a strong summer, Hennig noted, "and that has continued into the regular season," she said. "Tia is playing a key role on both ends of the floor for us."

Barnes averages 10.5 points and 8 rebounds. Hennig also likes the way Aniyah Moody is playing. Moody is averaging a double-double at 10 points and 11 boards a game. "Aniyah worked very hard this summer on her post moves and presence on the court," she said. "She plays with a lot of energy. Her rebounding tenacity is truly impressive."

Warren update:

The Blue Devils went 1-3 and were fifth at the New Trier tournament, beating Chicago Phillips 50-33. Mariah Phelps averaged 15.2 points and 4 steals in the tournament.

Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz said scoring depth continues to be a point of emphasis.

"The stat that sticks out for us right now is our scoring," he said. "We need to find other scorers if we are going to be competitive and have a chance to win games in our conference. On the positive, other than the New Trier game, we've kept teams under 50 points, which is one of our goals as a team."

Rebounding also has been stellar out of the gates. "Our ability to rebound has impressed so far," Stanczykiewicz said. "We are not a tall team. So far, they have committed to doing the work on the defensive and offensive glass, but we can be better. We have to do everything we can to not allow teams to extend their possessions by getting offensive rebounds. Conversely, we are not shooting the ball that great right now and need to get extra opportunities by going to the glass."

In addition to being the team's top scorer, Stanczykiewicz said Phelps is beginning to grow in her role on the team as a leader. He added Faith Gaston has impressed as well. "Faith has a motor that never stops," Stanczykiewicz said. "It's hard to keep her off the floor."

Also playing well is Shay Love, who "keeps us steady on offense and plays hard defensively," Stanczykiewicz said. "Faith, Mariah and Shay all play with great effort and intensity."

Wauconda update:

The Bulldogs went 3-0 and won their own Thanksgiving tournament. Wauconda defeated Rockford Jefferson by a point, Belvidere by 3 points and Woodstock North by 23.

In all three games, Wauconda held its opponents to under 40 points (34, 35 and 38). Senior guard Kayla McCarthy and junior center Helen Macey were named to the all-tournament team.

Macey exploded for 29 points and accounted for nearly half the team's output against Woodstock North (61-38). "Helen has been the most consistent," Wauconda coach Jaime Dennis said.

Dennis also has been pleased with the Bulldogs' ability to figure out how to win "even when we are not playing well," she said. "We have moments of looking like a really good basketball team. Now, we have to work on putting those moments together into one complete game."

Mundelein update:

The Mustangs were 3-2 overall. At Thanksgiving, Mundelein beat Grant 48-45, Wheeling 45-17 and Highland Park 48-43 and tied for second place, but lost the tiebreaker to Highland Park.

Mundelein's losses have come against Grayslake North (45-40) and Glenbrook South (49-31).

Junior Rylan Foster and senior Gracie Werner were both all-tournament selections. Foster averaged 13.4 points and 8 rebounds and had 3 double-doubles in the tournament, while Werner averaged 9.5 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2.8 assists in the tournament.

New Mundelein coach Sarah Teipel said a key goal is to try and keep teams below 10 points a quarter. In those first 5 games, the Mustangs are averaging keeping teams under 10 for three of the four quarters, "and we have been close to accomplishing it in all our games," she said. "We are working on building to all four quarters."

Freshman Casey Vyverman also has played well to start the season, averaging 10.6 points, 3 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1 assist per game.

IBCA Hall of Fame inductees:

Several Lake County names dot the list of the newest inductees into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

Former Wauconda girls basketball standouts Saundra (Cermak) Carpenter and Renee (Grantham) Heelan are new inductees, along with the Lake Zurich duo of Johanna Solverson and Anne Tierney. Cermak Carpenter went on to play at Phillips University in Oklahoma, while Grantham Heelan went on to Northern Illinois. Solverson played at Iowa, while Tierney played at Lehigh.

Also on the docket of new inductees is Gary Edge, who coached girls basketball at Round Lake Central. Edge is being inducted into the girls career coaches category.

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