Daily Herald
Girls basketball: Northwest all-area team
By John Leusch | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 3/8/2012 11:55 PM

Maura Benson Prospect

Benson's boards (9.5 rebounds per game) helped keep Prospect in the Mid-Suburban East right to the very end. Her 269 rebounds were 20 shy of the single-season school record of 289 set by Molly May. She also blocked 3.5 shots per game and had 1.5 steals per game. "Maura was such a strong defensive presence, she had the ability to change the way teams played against us." said Prospect coach Martha Kelly. "And she was not too shabby on the offensive end (7.5 ppg). Maura is such an athletic player that she makes the difficult look easy by snatching passes out of the air with one hand and finishing." Benson just missed a triple-double against Wheeling (10 points, 10 rebounds and 9 blocked shots). "Maura was a leader because of the effort she brought to practice and games, and her teammates looked up to her," Kelly said.

Diamond Boyd Elk Grove

When the Grenadiers needed a big bucket, chances were Boyd was answering the call. The junior forward has developed into one of the premier players in the area. She averaged 14.9 points, 8 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.2 assists. Boyd scored a season-high 24 points against Hoffman Estates. "Diamond is extremely versatile and can play any position on the floor," said Grens coach Ryan Kirkorsky. "As dominant as she has been, what sets her apart, is that she is not satisfied with her success. She is willing to make the sacrifices to make herself and her teammates better."

Brittany Collins Maine West

Whether it was scoring or rebounding, Collins was the leader for Maine West with 16 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Central Suburban North champs. Collins scored 105 points in one week, including a career-high 28 points against Maine East and personal high 18 rebounds against Niles West with 23 points. "I think she is the best player in the northwest suburbs," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. "She had 23 double-doubles and was the one player everyone had to stop, often being double and triple-teamed. She will move more to the outside as she gets older and will improve her game tremendously, She is on track to be our leading scorer of all-time. She has great future ahead of her."

Nicole Collins Barrington

Collins (13 ppg, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals) was quite simply one of the best pure shooters to come through coach Babbi Barreiro's program. She shot 46 percent from the floor and 76 percent at the free throw line. "Nicole's shooting touch is effortless and so fluid," Barreiro said. "Nicole has excellent court awareness and understands the game of basketball better than most players her age. And that, combined with her ability, makes her a true standout in the Mid-Suburban League as well as the area. We will miss her presence on the floor next season."

Erin Fabbri St. Viator

St. Viator coach Paul Bjerkness said Fabbri did "everything" for the Lions. "She was a great free throw shooter (73 percent), a great offensive player (10.9 ppg) and really did a nice job on defense, playing tough, getting deflections and communicating," Bjerkness said. The 5-foot-8 sophomore guard from St. Emily also averaged 4.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Fabbri scored a career-high 22 points against Grayslake North in the regional final. "And Erin will only work 120 percent harder to get better," Bjerkness added.

Alexis Glasgow Rolling Meadows

Glasgow didn't have to use the glass that much. Instead she was usually finding all net with her 3-point shot. The sophomore sharpshooter (12.3 ppg, 41. rebounds, 1.4 steals) was one of the top long-range shooters in the area, tossing home 58, including 6 in the first half of a win against Prospect. "The evolution of her game and growth during last year's offseason was remarkable," said Meadows coach Todd Hatfield. "The exciting part is that I know she's not satisfied and will continue to work toward building different layers to her game."

Haley Gorecki Fremd

She came in as a freshman but quickly was playing like a senior. Already getting looks from D-I colleges, Gorecki was a major player in Fremd's third straight MSL West title. She averaged 13.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and shot 71 percent from the free-throw line. "Haley had an amazing year for us," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. "We knew she was the real deal after the first weekend of summer. Her stat line is one that any kid would be proud of, let alone a freshman playing her first year on varsity. She is very coachable and has unlimited potential. She impacted our games in so many ways and made those around her better."

Jen Hall Hersey

Hall a 5-foot-3 guard, stood tall for the Huskies. A four-year varsity player, she could drive to the basket or beat you with the 3-pointer, averaging 13.8 points with 48 assists and 36 steals. The three-sport athlete (tennis and badminton) helped the Huskies to 89 wins and was part of two Mid-Suburban East titles. "Jen really turned into one of the area's best point guards," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "Her ballhandling was so good she really minimized our turnovers and her ability to score (career-high 31 points against St. Viator), specifically the 3-pointer, really helped our offense."

Maggie Hogen Hersey

Hogen always seemed to be a force around the basket, whether it was grabbing a key rebound or sinking a crucial hook shot. A four-year varsity player, Hogen averaged 9.5 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds while collecting 49 blocked shots, 50 steals and 57 assists. She had a season-high 19 points against Elk Grove. "Maggie was consistently a defensive force," said Hersey coach Mary Fendley. "She had to guard some of the best post players in the area and led us in rebounding throughout the season with some huge games."

Amanda Hoye Maine West

A four-year starter, Hoye was instrumental in leading Maine West to its first Central Suburban North championship in three years. The senior guard averaged 11.3 points and shot 78 percent (62-of-80) from the free throw line. "There wasn't anyone who could press us this year because of her ball-handling," said Maine West coach Derril Kipp. "As the season went along, she started getting more assists and we became a formidable team. Amanda was a major factor in us winning the conference." Hoye had 40 3-pointers and shot 78 percent at the free throw line (62-of-80). She tossed home a career-high 26 points with 4 3-pointers against Deerfield this season.

Amanda Kelly Schaumburg

The Schaumburg offense will be in good hands next season. Kelly will be back for her senior season after leading the Saxons with 13.4 points and making 3.3 steals per game. "Amanda is a fierce competitor who has the ability to completely change the flow of the game," said Schaumburg coach Ashley Berggren. "She has incredible court sense and sees the floor extremely well. In addition to being an offensive threat, she is also one of our best defenders."

Jackie Kemph Rolling Meadows

Kemph was the quarterback for the Mustangs as they won their first Mid-Suburban League championship. The sophomore led the team with 15.6 points, connecting on 50.1 percent from the field. She also shot 35 percent from 3-point range (29) and 80.1 from the free throw line. Kemph averaged 4.3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals per game. "Jackie has developed a great patience and understanding of the game," Mustangs coach Todd Hatfield said. "She always looks to set up her teammates first while playing with that edge of knowing when to take over a game. Defensively she is relentless both on and off the ball."

Natalie Kutrumanes Conant

There was no question who the Cougars' go-to person was this season. Kutrumanes often was the answer when Conant needed a big bucket or rebound. She led Conant in scoring (10.0) and rebounding (8.0). "Natalie is a great captain and leader," said Conant coach Dan Travers. "She is an outstanding young lady. She always got her teammates involved. She was a post player who could handle the ball." Kutrumanes often brought the ball up the floor. "We could bring her out of the paint and post players would have a hard time matching up with her," Travers added. "She has an excellent 10- to14-foot range on jump shots. She did a great job taking charges (more than eight). She was a great leader who was terrific with the underclassmen and leading our team."

Deanna Kuzmanic Wheeling

What a rookie season for the freshman who helped steer the upstart Wildcats to one of the most dramatic state-tourney runs by a Mid-Suburban League team. After a 1-14 start, Kuzmanic (10.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists) helped the Wildcats become the first Elite Eight girls basketball team with a losing record. "Deanna had some great stats early (multiple 20-point games) and then got injured (ankle)," said Wildcats coach Julissa Hernandez. "But she bounced back (second half of the season) and definitely put the team on her shoulders. With this being only her first year, we have a lot to look forward to from Deanna."

Kellie Kuzmanic Wheeling

One trip downstate as a freshman. One trip to the Elite Eight as a senior. Kuzmanic experienced quite a career at Wheeling and was quite a player. This season, she led the Wildcats with 11.9 points and 9.5 rebounds while also collecting 2.3 assists. "Kellie played the post her first two years, then was forced to play point last year," said Wheeling coach Julissa Hernandez. "This year she was back at post. She is an all-around player who can bring the ball up the floor, play the post, and shoot. There is nothing she can't do. Her work ethic and heart to play basketball are at another level."

Ann Marie Lynch Rolling Meadows

She has signed to play Division I soccer at Marquette, but Lynch proved she can flourish on the basketball court, too. The steady senior did it all as a four-year starter and three-year captain, averaging 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals per game. "Ann Marie has been asked to do so much for us over these past four years," said Meadows coach Todd Hatfield. "She has such an incredible motor on her and that truly benefitted her teammates this year with us trying to play a little bit faster game. She only knows 100 percent and that's what makes her such a fierce competitor."

Kaitlyn Mayer Palatine

Mayer was the heart of Palatine's inside game, averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds per game. She led the Mid-Suburban West with her 59.7 shooting percentage from the field. "Kaitlyn had an explosive senior season," said Palatine coach Leslie Schock. "She worked very hard on getting stronger and improving her game in the off-season." Mayer scored a career-high 23 points in a 53-49 win over Hoffman Estates. "For being 5-foot-10 and having to play center, she played a lot bigger than her height," Schock said.

Ashley McConnell Fremd

The Daily Herald honorary captain put it all together this season, leading the Vikings with 15.5 points a game. The two-time all-area selection did a lot more, too, averaging 3 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals while tossing in 45 3-pointers and shooting 69 percent at the free throw line. She scored a career-high 32 points against Fenwick. "Ashley put it all together this season," said Vikes coach Dave Yates "She has the full package in what you are looking for in a basketball player: handles the basketball, shooting, and a great defender. Ashley played her best in the biggest games which shows you what type of competitor she is. I have not seen many players who impact the game more on both ends of the floor."

Bailey North Buffalo Grove

Only a junior, North led the Bison in scoring and rebounding. The hardworking center also shot 81.6 percent from the free throw line (80-of-98) "It is apparent Bailey loves basketball - she lives and breathes the sport," said Bison coach Pat Dudle. "If you ask her what her favorite letter is in the alphabet, she might have a hard time choosing between the letters X and O." Dudle said Bailey works diligently on her game in the offseason. "She will be ready for a great senior season," he said. "She was a great physical presence for us."

Nia Pappas Palatine

Pappas' 144 points were the most scored by any player in the Mid-Suburban West. She averaged 14 points a game, including a career-high 26 in a 45-39 overtime win over Hoffman Estates. The junior point guard also rang up 22 with 6 3-pointers in a 39-27 win over Deerfield. "The team does not function without Nia," said Palatine coach Leslie Schock. "She played almost every minute of every game. She was our floor leader and great to coach. I'm looking forward to working with her again next season."

Alyssa Saklak Schaumburg

Saklak, a four-year varsity performer, played a key role in helping the Saxons to their first winning season in her career. The senior forward was dangerous on both ends of the floor, averaging 11.2 points and grabbing 9.5 rebounds. She also collected 2.5 steals per game and had a season-high 24 points against Proviso West. "Alyssa has become one of our most versatile players," said Saxons coach Ashley Berggren. "She has mastered the up-and-under move. She can dominate in the paint and provided us a threat from 3-point range."

Jenny Vliet Rolling Meadows

She's a natural guard but Vliet showed she can mix it up inside as well. The sophomore was a key contributor to the Mustangs' MSL crown, averaging 10.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. She also hit 50 3-point baskets and shot 71 percent at the free throw line. "Jenny worked all off-season on quickening up her release and she was able to get more looks and better looks this year," said Mustangs coach Todd Hatfield. "Although she played out of position for us all year, she was a great asset due to her ability to draw big defenders out and take smaller ones inside."

Jessi Wiedemann Fremd

A 3-point shooting machine, Wiedemann finished her four-year varsity career as one of the top shooters in Fremd history. This season, the Valparaiso-bound senior averaged 13.9 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. The two-time all-area selection connected for 115 3-pointers in her career and 60 this season while shooting 76 percent from the free throw line. "Jessi improved in every statistical category from last year," said Fremd coach Dave Yates. " Her rebounding and defense were a big key to our success this season. Last season, Jessi was a scorer, this year if she didn't score double digits, she would have 10 rebounds or 10 assists and still have a huge impact on the game. She has worked very hard and come a long way in her four years, but believe it or not, her best basketball is ahead of her."

Taylor Will Prospect

Will enjoyed one of the most productive seasons for a freshman in Prospect history. She was second on the team in every category with 9.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.0 blocks, 1.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 68.5 percent at the free throw line. Will also shot the most free throws on the team (74-of-108). "Taylor was able to get to the basket and finish," said Knights coach Martha Kelly. "As only a freshman, she has a ton of potential. She is such a versatile player who was a tough matchup for some teams. As a defender, she had good instincts and often defended other teams' better players."

Destinee Young Hoffman Estates

Young drew a lot of extra attention from opposing defenses but that hardly stopped the 6-foot-2 forward from another all-area season. The highly-recruited junior averaged team-highs of 15.3 (439 points) and 11.0 rebounds (307) per game with 2 assists and 1 steal per game. She shot 49 percent from the floor and was the top rebounder in the MSL West with 109. "This was only Destinée's second full season on varsity and she is already one of the premier forwards in the conference," said Hawks coach Mike Nocella. "Anybody who has played us knows what she is capable of doing and she is constantly double- and triple-teamed. Destinee is very athletic and dominant on the boards with good strength and mobility."

All-area roster

Player School Pos. Ht. Yr.

Maura Benson Prospect F 5-10 Sr.

Diamond Boyd Elk Grove F 5-10 Jr.

Brittany Collins Maine West F 6-1 So.

Nicole Collins Barrington G 5-9 Sr.

Erin Fabbri St. Viator G 5-8 So.

Alexis Glasgow Rolling Meadows G 5-10 So.

Haley Gorecki Fremd G-F 5-10 Fr.

Jen Hall Hersey G 5-5 Sr.

Maggie Hogen Hersey F 5-11 Sr.

Amanda Hoye Maine West G 5-6 Sr.

Amanda Kelly Schaumburg G 5-6 Jr.

Jackie Kemph Rolling Meadows G 5-6 So.

Natalie Kutramanes Conant F 6-0 Sr.

Deanna Kuzmanic Wheeling G 5-8 Fr.

Kellie Kuzmanic Wheeling F-G 5-10 Sr.

Ann Marie Lynch Rolling Meadows G 5-8 Sr.

Kaitlyn Mayer Palatine F 5-11 Sr.

*Ashley McConnell Fremd G 5-9 Jr.

Bailey North Buffalo Grove F 6-0 Jr.

Nia Pappas Palatine G 5-5 Jr.

Alyssa Saklak Schaumburg F 5-11 Sr.

Jenny Vliet Rolling Meadows F-G 6-1 So.

Jessi Wiedemann Fremd G 6-1 Sr.

Taylor Will Prospect G 5-10 Fr.

Destinee Young Hoffman Estates F 6-1 Jr.

* Honorary captain

Special mention

Allie Bauch (Conant, Sr. G), Christina Brucci (Prospect, Sr. G), Emily Cho (Buffalo Grove, Sr. G), Ashley Collins (Maine West, Jr. F), Adriane Falagario (Prospect, Sr. G), Amanda Gunn (Rolling Meadows, Sr. G), Jeanine Hannoun (Sr. F), Megan John (Maine West, Sr. G), Angie Kirchoff (Barrington, So. G), Marilyn Lortz (Fremd, Jr. G), Leah Malsom (Wheeling, Sr. F), Michele Molini (Prospect, Jr. G), Jess Moriarty (Christian Liberty, Fr. G), Kelly Naughton (Elk Grove, Jr. G), Jessica Petrovski (Prospect, Sr. G), Mary Pettit (Hoffman Estates, Sr. G), Renee Poulos (Hersey, So. F), Lauren Rooney (St. Viator, Sr. C), Jayna Rowland (Christian Liberty, Sr. F), Sarah Macius (Fremd, Sr. G), Laura Schweikert (Palatine, Sr. G), Kelly Skorzcewski (Schaumburg, Sr. F), Becca Stoczynski (Hoffman Estates, Jr. F), Megan Sullivan (Christian Liberty, So. G), McKenzie Wiedemann (Palatine, Jr. G), Bernie Williams (Fremd, Jr. F-G)

All-area capsules by John Leusch