77
      Thursday
      93 / 70
      Friday
      92 / 70
      Saturday
      92 / 71

      2014 KHQA Girls All Do or Die Basketball Team

      2014 KHQA GIRLS BASKETBALL DO OR DIE TEAM

      Now in its nineteenth year of existence, this is the 2014 KHQA All Do or Die Girls Basketball Salute. In the wake of yet another successful and fun season, it has been our tradition to put together our unique little All Area teams to honor the hard working young ladies of Tri-State Basketball. What follows is our best attempt to do so; the players I'd want on my team in a "Do or Die" situation. Thus the name....

      The awards you see below are nothing but our highly subjective, completely opinionated take on what was an incredibly fun winter's worth of basketball. We are not are experts in any sense of the word. I assure you: our picks here have no impact on recruiting, college scholarships, or future success. This column is provided for nothing more than entertainment purposes and should be enjoyed in that spirit. If you want to have a healthy, constructive, positive debate with us over any pick or omission, I am happy to do so with you as you can contact me at cduerr@khqa.com and we can better illustrate our points and why we made them and I am certainly willing to hear you out. But again in the end, what we do here is merely a reflection of our opinion, nothing more. No more meaningful or valid than the basketball opinions of anyone else. And I hope no one takes too much offense or gets to overheated about what transpires here.

      --------------------------------

      2014 KHQA GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR

      KATEE HINKLE,

      Palmyra High School

      The Skinny:

      18.8 Points Per Game,

      87 Three Pointers on 42% Efficiency from Distance

      3.7 Steals Per Game

      3 Rebounds Per Game

      2.3 Assists Per Game

      Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year

      First Team All State Selection By the MBCA

      RATIONALE: A very interesting process that was nearly turned on its ear by a grassroots swell of support from our viewers for Keokuk Junior Guard Lakyn Boltz, who jumped from sixth to a tie for second on our final ballot with Kristen Gengenbacher. In house, we had essentially narrowed the field here to three finalists in Hinkle, Gengenbacher, and Abby Lashmett of West Central. (Truth be told, if their teams had experienced more success, we probably could have talked ourselves into Cassidy Johnston and Vanessa Markert in this conversation as well.) With three legitimate All Staters in the final mix, it became an exercise in trying to assess quantitative value relative to their given teams. Lashmett's primary value here came from the fact that she accounted for a whopping 35% of her teams total offense this season. In contrast, Hinkle produced 29% of the Lady Panthers points this season and Gengenbacher was good for right about 23%. But even with Abby playing incredibly consistent anchor in the middle, West Central as a team was much more inconsistent overall relative to Palmyra and QND (against lesser competition and without as much bottom line success) which undercut Abby's value relative to the other two players. And so we had our final two.

      The evidence for Kristen Gengenbacher was compelling. Statistically, Kristen's numbers were a little deflated, given the caliber of teammates she had and her unselfish nature in a distribution heavy QND Offense. By the same token, she was still a flat out rainmaker who averaged nearly 16 points, 3.5 assists and better than five rebounds per game (a number that I found very compelling for a guard) on a team that went all the way to the State Semifinals against the hardest slate of competition in the Tri States. Those kind of things matter. There just weren't many holes to poke in her game. She was the unquestioned engine that drove the train and I always thought Kristen was a kid who had the rare ability to play her best game in the most tense of circumstances. A little more fan support in the online polling may well have strengthened an alreadly strong candidacy as well.

      But I am not sure, relative to her chief rival here, it stil would have been enough.

      Simply put, Palmyra's Senior Guard was the most proficient and efficient player on the floor in more games, more times than anyone else in Tri State Girls Basketball this season. And that had irreplacable impact on her team.

      ??

      Like Miss Lashmett, Katee Hinkle averaged right at 18.2 points per game but did so as a two guard. What won me over is that her efficiency percentages were staggeringly good for a player who shot a staggering 207 attempts from three point range. She finished the year as a 46% shooter from the field overall and hit on a remarkable 42% of her three point attempts. Those numbers make her that almost perfect statistical approxiamation, as irony would have it, of one Kassidy Gengenbacher. You may remember Kass as Kristen's big sister and a kid who would have been the runaway KHQA Player of the Year in 2013 for the numbers she produced and the amount of team success she helped engender had she not shared floor space with a once in a generation player in Jordan Frericks. Katee Hinkle's shine this season came without such mitigation, which made it easier to see all the little things she did to get better and uplift her teammates. Katee expanded her game beyond mere catch and shoot at the offensive end and showed off the ability to not only score her points within the flow of the offense, but move the basketball to teammates for higher percentage shots. And in so doing turned the ball over a miniscule 1.3 times per game on average. Miss Hinkle also became one of the most intuitive passing lane defenders in the Tri States in route to 110 steals on the year. Her fingerprints were all over the Lady Panthers stellar 27-3 season; a campaign that finished in the State Quarterfinals. And she did so on a team that basically gave up size in the paint on a nightly basis. Palmyra had to be successful on the perimeter to create openings inside for their undersized forwards, or none of this was ever going to work. And in the face of that pressure, Hinkle delivered big time results. Certainly doesn't hurt that she is a tremendously high character kid with stellar grades (as were Kristen Gengenbacher and Abby Lashmett I might add) to boot.Not sure that we could have gone wrong in this case with any of the Big Three here, but I feel convicted that ultimately we did get this one right.

      ??

      Runners-Up: Lakyn Boltz, Keokuk

      Kristen Gengenbacher, QND

      ??

      Fan Vote: Lakyn Boltz, Keokuk

      ??????

      Past Winners:

      2013-Jordan Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame

      2012-Jordan Frericks, Quincy Notre Dame

      2011-Tiffany King, West Central

      2010-Karlee Gengenbacher, Quincy Notre Dame

      2009-Tori Niemann, Canton

      2008-Marley Hall, West Hancock

      2007-McKensey Long, Carthage

      2006-Mikal Bencomo, Clopton

      2005-Sara Liesen, Quincy Notre Dame

      2004-Lexanne Dickerson, Carthage

      2003-Jennifer Goetz, Cardinal Stritch

      2002-Sam Quigle, Southeastern

      2001-Jennifer Goetz, Cardinal Stritch

      2000-Dewella Holliday, Monroe City

      1999-Dewella Holliday, Monroe City

      1998-Ruth Kipping, Quincy High

      ----------------------------------------

      2014 KHQA Girls Basketball Coach of the Year:

      KEITH GUDEHUS, Knox County

      RATIONALE: Lots of viable arguments to be made for various coaches this season, including a compelling one for Eric Orne to claim his fourth straight KHQA COY crown in the wake of what might have been his best coaching job relative to his talent level. In the end though, we found suprisingly easy consensus here among our internal voters (myself, Will, and our photographers) and a landslide of public support from our viewers for Knox County's first year skipper. Bottom line, the Knox County Lady Eagles were the region's most pleasant basketball surprise (at least on the girls side of the ledger) and a team that found its way the kind of relevance that it hadn't enjoyed since at least 1991. The simple fact that Knox County isn't "just a softball school" is pretty tellling as to how much the meter has moved in Edina. Let's be even more honest here. This wasn't a perfectly constructed team. There were clearly some design flaws (lack of height, kids who didn't fit traditional positional assignments) but Gudehus was able to coax the best out of the kids he did have and make his alma mater viable in ways that exceeded the ceiling that many on the outside had ascribed to this team. The fact that Keith was able to do this for his Alma Mater makes the end game here (a State Quarterfinals appearance and near miss against New Franklin in heartbreaking, buzzer beating fashion) all the more satisfying on balance. This is a team that became far more than just the sum of its parts, which to me is the very definition of a great coaching job. He got good kids to play unselfish, team basketball; accepting unique roles, in some cases playing well beyond their years, and contributing to the greater cause over self. That as much as anything was the hallmark of this hardworking, blue collar team. And in that spirit, it's an honor to be able to list Keith Gudehus among the previous greats on this list. His work this year certainly merits that esteem.

      Runner-Up: CHRIS PARSONS, Palmyra

      Fan Vote: KEITH GUDEHUS, Knox County

      Past Winners:

      2013:Eric Orne, Quincy Notre Dame

      2012-Eric Orne, Quincy Notre Dame

      2011-Eric Orne, Quincy Notre Dame

      2010-Mike Johnson, Marion County

      2009-Ken Schuster, West Hancock

      2008-Eric Orne, Quincy Notre Dame

      2007-Bruce Martin, Routt

      2006-Zach Keene, Carthage

      2005-Jerry Jerome, Keokuk

      2004-Jay Baldwin, Holy Trinity

      2003-Matt Long, Central

      2002-Kent O'Laughlin, South Shelby

      2001-Tony Sargent, Cardinal Stritch

      2000-Bob Plourde, Monroe City

      1999-Randy Spratt, Marion County

      1998-Bill Lapp, Carthage

      1997-Jerry Jerome, Warsaw

      ---------------------

      2014 KHQA BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR

      (as voted exclusively by KHQA Viewers)

      ASHTYN LAGEMANN, Clopton

      Freshman, Clopton High School

      9.9 Points per Game,

      9.0 Rebounds per Game,

      2.1 Blocks per Game,

      1.5 Steals per Game,

      Clopton Coach Larry Lagemann: "I just think she kind of has a natural feel. She has real good hands around the basket. Of course, she's tall and long, so that helps. She just kind of has a natural ability. And I think, just confidence wise, we just saw that grow throughout the season. She was a little timid at the beginning of the year and I think as the year went on she started to realize "I'm pretty good and I can be pretty good."

      The potential in 9th Grader Ashtyn Lagemann was self-evident from the start. That she realize it this quickly, to the tune of a near nightly double/double at 10 points and 9 rebounds per game, says a lot about the family-first atmosphere, both literally and figureatively of Lady Hawk Basketball.

      Lady Hawk Guard/Big Sister Lauren Lagemann: "I think our team is really unselfish. We are always looking to get the ball to other people. And so we would just try to hit her when she's open as much as possible and just get her the ball so she could make the easy shots and run the score up (laughs)"

      Ashtyn Lagemann: "At the beginning of the year, I was going over playbooks, trying to learn everything. They (her teammates) also were all a big help knowing I was the only freshman playing varsity. They were all there for me. It was really nice."

      Clopton Coach Larry Lagemann: "As a father, I am really proud. That your daughter can achieve that kind of recognition, success. And as a Coach, you look at it just as a player, it says an awful lot about how she performed on the floor and the contributions she made throughout the year. So I am proud both as a coach and father both. "

      Lady Hawk Guard/Big Sister Lauren Lagemann: "She works really hard. And I think she's finally realizing that she is so much taller than everybody else and she can take over the game. And as she continues to get stronger, she will really be good."

      Coach Lagemann: "Just her success she's had this season has given her a little taste of what she can do and has made her even more determined to work harder."

      Ashtyn Lagemann: "After my first few games, I realized that this is a good year. I just have to show everybody what I can do. So after my first few games and doing well, I knew that I could do it and it gave me a lot of confidence"

      ??

      Past Winners:

      2013-TORIE CONOVER, Central Southeastern

      ---------------------

      2014 GIRLS ALL DO OR DIE TEAM

      CENTER

      First Team Selections

      Starter: VANESSA MARKERT, Brown County

      Pertinents and Such: Top scorer in Tri State Girls Basketball this season at better than 20 points per game on a very tidy 60% shooting from the field. An unstoppable force in the low blocks, Vanessa was far more than just your traditional paint warrior though. The Bradley pledge possesses impressive handle and superlative passing skills to go along with the arsenal of usual interior assets. In fact, I would argue she is just as dangerous above the arc setting up her teammates as she is when she gets into the lane. It starts with her feet. Vanessa is both nimble and sudden out of her post moves and has great timing as a jumper, an asset both in her rebounding and her shotblocking, which she did to the tune of four and half swats per game. At this point in her basketball development, Vanessa is equal parts Leah Kassing and Marley Hall. A true center but with hybrid post capability, which is a beguiling combination and one that makes me think her eventual college transition may be the easiest of the three. Tremendous "all business" mentality on the court and a Tim Duncan approach to the game. Bottom line, she is a dandy. And she comes to us this year as a Second Team All State Selection by the IBCA

      ????

      Reserve: MADISON STEINKAMP, Camp Point Central

      Pertinents and Such: What a tremendous career crescendo the talented Lady Panther pivot made in her Senior Season, certifying herself as a legitimate All Stater (2nd Team by decree of the Coaches Association) by solidifying the middle of Matt Long's front line. For a team that tended to run more than a little hot and cold offensively, especially after Kara Twaddle's injury issues, Miss Steinkamp served as her team's most bankable source of offense, going for 10 points per game on 55 percent shooting efficiency. I think I would best describe her as "slippery" on the offense end as Madison had a certain talent for working through/by traffic and into scoring opportunities. And in that spirit, she was particularly difficult to box out going to the offensive glass. Coaches like players with a quick "second jump" and while I don't really know how "quick" Madison was on a stopwatch, she did seem to play with sudden-ness relative to other post players. That was probably more evident on defense (Central's forte as a team this year) when Miss Steinkamp would slip the player who was trying to body her up and knock away passes intended for the paint. There is nothing more frustrating than working for position in the low blocks only to have your efforts go for not when the ball never gets inside to you. Madison had a real talent for disruption in that way. She was also underratedly good attacking and finishing from the angle on the break. One of the more impressive year-to-year progressions we saw in any area girls player this season.

      ??

      Reserve: ASHTYN LAGEMANN, Clopton

      Pertinents and Such: 2014 KHQA Breakout Player of the Year, as voted by you, our viewers. See above Awards Rationale.

      ------------------------------

      Second Team Selections

      KAYLA VESTAL, MACOMB

      Why She is Here: Emerging 6'2" talent with all the earmarks for future stardom. Consistent confidence seems to be the only thing missing from here repertoire because Kayla has legitimate presence, a deft touch around the basket, and a nifty knack to catch and finish. Has all the tools to be a nightly double/double producer next season. And if she makes that leap, Macomb becomes a very difficult team with which to contend.

      ??

      KELSEY BRYANT, Central Lee

      Why She is Here: Point blank, we love her ability/willingness to go to the boards and fight for every possible rebound. The 5'11" Junior is still a touch mechanical offensively but her toughness/timing on the glass (9.2 boards per game is top of the food chain in Tri State Basketball and made her one of our favorites. This All Conference campaign was a breakthrough and methinks she comes back an monopolizes the low blocks as a Senior.

      -----------------------------

      Third Team

      LASTELLA SLACK, Fort Madison

      ANASIA ELDER, Hannibal

      WHITNEY MURPHY, Unity

      -----------------------------

      POWER FORWARD

      First Team Selections

      Starter: ABBY LASHMETT, West Central

      Pertinents and Such: For my money, the most effective, dominant and reliable low post scorer in Tri State Girls Basketball. The Cougars Junior Forward produced to the tune of 18.2 points per game this season on 51% shooting from the field, despite constantly double and sometimes triple teaming in the low blocks. A super smart player who excelled at getting to the free throw line (143 conversions on 215 attempts, a clip of nearly 70%) and fighting her way through contact to create scoring opportunities as the inside compliment to the Lady Cougars long range shooters. Given her array of clever post moves, her outstanding footwork, and her soft touch around the basket, Abby was among the toughest covers in Tri State Basketball. A First Team All State selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association, Abby also chimed in nightly with six rebounds per game and seventy total Offensive Rebounds on the year, demonstrating her relentlessness on that end of the floor.

      ????

      Reserve: MARY BETH HUGENBERG, Quincy Notre Dame

      Pertinents and Such: Leading scorer on the Tri State's best basketball team at better than 16 points per night on better than 61% shooting from the field. Perhaps as pivotal a cog as any this season in helping give Eric Orne's retooled starting lineup legitimate paint presence. Good hands, soft touch around the basket, and outstanding body control allowed MBH to project strength in the blocks. Smart player who has come a long ways the last three seasons and in so doing, has become one of the best self-made kids in Tri State Basketball. Solid position rebounder who snared an average of six boards per game. The leadership and character intangibles she brings to the mix are off the charts. All in all, just another classy success story for the Tri-State's resident basketball dynasty as Mary Beth Hugenberg polishes off her career with All State honors from both the AP and IBCA as well as a hand in three state titles and one third place finish.

      ????

      Reserve: SARAH DOOLEY, Knox County

      Pertinents and Such: Your Tri Rivers Conference Player of the Year was an absolute warrior in fueling the Lady Eagles run as the feel good story of the 2014 Basketball campaign. The Lady Eagle Senior was a tad on the short side as post players go but you'd find no hint of that in her production this season, which included twelve and a half points and eight rebounds nightly on a very balanced squad. The most noticable thing about Sarah on offense is just what a tough cover she has made herself. She uses her body well and is strong enough to turn the corner and get where she wants to be with the basketball and heaven help the poor defender who tries to impede that will. She made dramatic improvement with her shooting touch this season, softened the edges on her shooting if you will, and looked much more relaxed with the basketball in her hands. The example she set here for her teammates, many of them underclassmen, in fearlessly leading Knox County through a run of playoff games in which they were the underdog, was substantial. And she mashes a softball here as well as anyone on this list as well, so there is that. All kidding aside, Sarah had a wonderful breakthrough season and Knox's Quarterfinal run simply could not have taken place without her providing significant low post counterbalance to all those fine wing players.

      ---------------------------

      Second Team

      KENZIE GROSSMAN, Mark Twain

      Why She's Here: We've loved her shotblocking and rebounding since her Freshman season. And we got more of the same in her senior swan song at 9 RPG and 2 BPG. The First Team All CCC pick was asked to do a lot offensively and her efficiency numbers suffered for it but 14 points nightly is nothing to sneeze at either. For a "second tier sport" in her heart, the Twain Softball sensation leaves an impressive roundball resume.

      ??

      TARA SCHUCKENBROCK, Bowling Green

      Why She's Here: Perseverance. Fought her way back from injury purgatory to become one of the best all around perforrmers in Northeast Missouri this season at 11 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game this season. Hard not to love a kid with this kind of personal fortitude and courage, because no one would have blamed her for thinking "why me" along the way. Just a pure basketball asset to her team at both ends of the floor.

      ??

      CHELSEA WOOD, Scotland County

      Why She's Here: Freshman year revelation who played more comfortably/confidently than most seniors. Kids with this kind of presence, this soon, are rare and special. Her game is catching up fast. Led the Lady Tigers in both scoring (13 points per game) & rebounding (9.7 boards a night) and might well have swiped TRC POY honors as a ninth grader if it weren't for Knox County's run. She may own this league the next three years running

      -------------------------------

      Third Team

      MICHAELA LEAPLEY, Liberty

      ALLISON COLLINS, Rushville/Industry

      CAITLIN MARSHALL, Fort Madison

      HALEY EDWARDS, Central Lee

      ____________

      SMALL FORWARD

      Starter: CASSIDY JOHNSTON, South Shelby

      Pertinents and Such: As good an all-around basketball player as you will find in the Tri States and a kid who defies any easy "positional" description. Yes, in an ideal world she is a power forward and has the outsized rebounding and power numbers (19.8 points per game on 62% shooting and 10.8 rebounds per contest) to assert that pedigree. But Cassidy brought so much more to the table than just traditional low post presence if you sat down and watched South Shelby play. In some ways, she was quite literally a "Point Center" for this team in that she was a better ballhandler than most area guards and would often bring the ball up the floor and set the offense. The value in that was that Cassidy would draw bigger defenders away from the paint and use outstanding floor vision and passing presence to create easy scoring opportunities for her teammates. She finished the year with 66 assists, which speaks to her proficiency in doing so. Miss Johnston also finished second on her team with 41 steals. Toss out three point shooting and there really wasn't a statline Courtney didn't stuff for her team. And to be even more honest, I got a little creative with her positioning her because I absolutely love the versatility and firepower a Markert-Lashmett-Johnston front line would pose, especially considering how all three of them have across the board skill sets that would meld really well if when as our All Do-or-Die Team went "tall" on the frontline. Tremendous player, even better young lady.

      ??

      ??

      Reserve: DEVAN JOHNSON, Marion County

      Pertinents and Such: Seems like only yesterday Miss Devan was the baby-faced Freshman doing "chorus of angel" singing for us in her soundbytes. And here she was four years later, absent Randi Lee and Jess, leading her own team to Columbia as the de facto rainmaker. To be honest, it wasn't always a smooth or elegant road for Devan to get to this point as both a leader and standout player; something she herself would be the first to admit. But clearly there were values across the board in her growing pains. And as we saw in her clutch tour de force close out of Linn County at Pershing Arena, it was worth the wait. Devan has always been an "emotions on her sleeve/is she in control or not" type player in the Russell Westbrook mode but when she was locked in, there was very little she couldn't do on the court. Inch for inch, one of the most relentless rebounders in the region. She could play point forward in setting up teammates. She brings tenacity to the defensive end. And she can score inside and out. Her highs on the court were absolute soaring, which made it very easy to put up with the occasional "forced issue" shot or wild play. And even those were fun to watch. Love her work rate and her fortitude and she has long been one of our favorite kids just on personality alone. This year, she displayed the game to match it.

      ??

      ??

      Reserve: ERIN FLESNER, Central

      Pertinents and Such: Best Front Court Wing Defender in Tri State Basketball and its been that way for two years running. And lest you haven't figured it out yet, we love defense here and unselfish players. Erin is a flat out winner who truly can change a game without scoring a point. She plays long, smothers her cover like a second layer of epidermis and gives you 32 minutes of nothing but full-go effort. Between having Erin Flesner and Cassidy Foley on this All Star squad, I am not sure our opponents would have a prayer of scoring.

      ----------------------

      Second Team

      CHALEE BRITT, Macon

      Why She's Here: Tremendous athlete who put up put up 11 points and 8 rebounds a game this season simply because she was so darned hard to check with all that speed and bounce. Her offense needs work/consistency but if it takes...wow. Even with that question mark, she's good enough off the ball to warrant this kind of praise as a sophomore.

      ??

      LEXI LOSSON, Palmyra

      Why She's Here: For a team with no real size, Lexi (a natural wing) became a master of compensation at just 5'8" fighting her way inside effectively to help at 12 points on 50% shooting and nearly six rebounds a night. Truer to form, she was also her teams most effective distributor and netted three and half steals per game to boot. One of those rare, invaluable players who fills in the gaps in a talent structure and does exactly what you need.

      ??

      TRINITY JEFFERS, Keokuk

      Why She's Here: Rising sophomore with across the board utility for what may be the Tri State's best young team. A Second Team All Conference pick who averaged nine points, five rebounds, and two steals per game while shooting 47% from the field. Trinity's ability to play inside and out is impressive. I rate Jeffers and Palmyra's Nicole Kroeger as the most promising young wings in our area given their similarly high ceilings.

      ----------------------

      Third Team:

      RANDI SLAUGHTER, Scotland County

      KELSIE BARTELL, West Prairie

      ALEXIS BELLOVICH, Western

      ABIGAIL JANSSEN, Central

      ----------------------

      POINT GUARD

      Starter: KRISTEN GENGENBACHER, Quincy Notre Dame

      Pertinents and Such: You were expecting someone else? Regardless of sport or obstacle, all she does is find ways to make her team win. An consensus All Stater by every awarding Illinois body and your 2014 Quincy Herald Whig Player of the Year, Kristen continued her families rich tradition of roundball excellence (sister Karlee was our POY in 2010, Kass was our runner-up last year) by driving the Lady Raiders back to Redbird Arena and a third place state finish with 16 points, 4 rebounds and three and half assists per game. Those numbers, good as they are, are a poor indicator of just what a competitor this young lady happens to be. Kristen is a tremendous student with aspirations of being a future doctor, kills a softball, and is headed to San Diego on Volleyball Scholarship. Yet she somehow balances this with a fun loving, naturally comedic nature away from the field of play. Once things get real, there isn't a singular player I can think of (male or female) whose level of personal determinaton and will to win becomes more evident or palpable. Warp speed motor. Great floor vision. Ability to shake defenders at will. Mensa level Sports IQ. All of those don't hurt. The thing about Kristen however, is that her intangible more than match her considerable physical talents. And what that gives you is an ideal franchise player at the most important position on the floor. Good look replacing that.

      ??

      ??

      Reserve: GRACI BASTERT, Illini West

      Pertinents and Such: There are "numbers" point guards and then there are players like Graci Bastert. A true four year contributor for her program, we saw very early on that Graci had the potential to absolutely fill up the basket. But that was not the role her team needed going forward and her maturation into a true pass first point guard and a leader has been something to behold. As a senior, her focus was distribution and defense and those were roles she played willingly and to a tee. In fact, she barely averaged over eight points a game this season. But it was telling in the Beardstown Tournament this past winter that IW was so balanced that no one had a clue what player on Grant Suprenant's championship winning team to award the Terry Kennedy MVP Trophy to for tournament excellence. So they gave it to Graci, who easily posted the most statistically non-descript to that impressive list of winners ever. And no one blanched because anyone who watched the Chargers play could see within a matter of moments that she was the straw that stirred the drink. The two things that were most noticable in this corner about Graci this season were her patience on both sides of the floor and her anticipation. There was nothing forced. It was all flow of the game (see also how her personal foul levels dipped even though her steal numbers rose to nearly four a game this season. She didn't stop trying to disrupt. She just got exceedingly good at picking her spots) She clearly had harnassed and honed her game and that as much as anything was the secret behind IW's very tidy 28 win season. Got to admit, it's going to be weird after all this time watching someone else run this team next year.

      ??

      ??

      Reserve: LAKYN BOLTZ, Keokuk

      Pertinents and Such: She's been on our radar since her Elks Hoops Shoot heroics back in elementry school. And Miss Lakynhas lived up to the billing. The Keokuk Junior guard grew her game by leaps and bounds in 2014, building on a long standing foundation of excellent shooting to become a terrific all-around player in route to earning accord as her conference's MVP. The biggest evidence of that improvement is this: just 16 turnovers in 24 games this season, demonstrating an uncommon level of control and discipline for any prep guard. Miss Boltz averaged a team high 13.4 points per game and knocked down a grand total of 54 three pointers at a clip of 35% proficiency. High energy contributor who also chipped in with just over three assists and two steals per game this season. If she continues on this trajectory, Lakyn may well be the early front-runner for 2015 Player of the Year honors as the cornerstone of what is an intriguing returning nucleus in the Gate City.

      ??

      Reserve: YANNI SADLER, Macomb

      Pertinents and Such: Projecting ahead, I envision Yanni Sadler in two years to be the female version of 2014 KHQA Boys POY Tyler Niemann. She already has that immensely fun to watch sense of pace, the same kind of quicker than a hiccup first step, and the ability to control a team and make those around her better with her passing and almost innate understanding of how to collapse a defense. She also shone flashes of having a very similar ability of knowing when to call her own number and shoot her team out of tight spots, though that is more of an evolving mindset for the Sophomore. Bottom line, what the 2014 Special Mention IBCA All Stater has already given us to chew on is incredibly enticing. Two more years worth of polish and her natural gifts gives her a shot, with continued work, to be one of the best this region has seen. Yanni is really sharp and I think tends to see the floor as well as anyone in our region. Her only real issues at this point is trying to do too much (the flashy pass over the simple) and pressing too hard, particulary on defense or when she gets frustrated. Those things tend to work themselves out naturally when you become an upper classmen. But that established, it's hard to find a point guard, boy or girl, with a more a more impressive base to build on going forward or one who promises to bring us so much future fun watching her and her teammates thrive going forward. Upshot is we get two more years of this and better.

      --------------------

      Second Team

      SHELBY KOEHLER, West Hancock

      Why She's Here: High end combo guard who will forever have a soft spot in my heart for producing two monster games in the KHQA/SUBWAY Superfan Shootout. The First Team All CCC pick has extraordinary quickness and is tougher than a three dollar steak. And she can flat out knock down shots from both mid and long range.

      ??

      BRITTNEY BERHORST, Canton

      Why She's Here: She has the already proven "clutch" gene, the kind of athleticism that gives defenders fits, and one of the best opportunities of any guard in Tri State Basketball next season to make "the leap" given a good surrounding cast and all kinds of momentum confidence. She's a fun player to watch on the prowl for points and she seems a really good system fit her with a team that has matured with here. I consider both this player and this team one great sleeper options for 2015.

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      LAUREN DALE, Knox County

      Why She's Here: Second Team All TRC Pick proved a steadying force, playing out of natural position, for the Lady Eagles in a season that set new benchmarks. Her length and grit made her the Jrue Holiday of Northeast Missouri and we prize her value her as a terrific on the ball defender.

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      Third Team

      MAGGIE BOWLES, Unity

      LAUREN LAGEMANN, Clopton

      MEGAN LASHMETT, West Central

      JENNA HUSTON, Clark County

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      TWO GUARD

      Starter: MICHAELA GRONEWOLD, Illini West

      Pretinents and Such: One of the most capable and potentially explosive scorers in the region, though her overall per contest average within the Chargers team-oriented attack was a little deflated at 11.6 points per game. Watch her enough and you fast begin to understand her ability to take over and dominate on that end of the floor. She is a capable enough mid and long range shooter, but we like Michaela best when she goes to the basket. She is an excellent transition finisher and a pain to have to account for when the Chargers ramp up temp. She has a nice talent for freezing defenders in the halfcourt and creating opportunities for herself. Her floor vision was a great asset and helped create a lot of drive and dish opportunities, particularly for long range gunner Josie Finch. And while offense is certainly her calling card, Miss Gronewold has rounded out her overall game quite nicely, jumping into the passing lanes for two and half steals per game. I was pleasantly surprised to see her receive some All State accolades from the IBCA, since those type of things are usually the domaine of stat stuffers. Good to see a kid who plays the game right and who sacrifices for the good of her team get some well deserved love.

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      Reserve: CASSIDY FOLEY, QND

      Pertinents and Such: Like Erin Flesner, we are willing to find room for top notch specialists on this squad and the Lady Raider Senior was her teams designated lockdown defender, thanklessly drawing the opponents top matchup on a nightly basis. Cassidy's athletic ability (in particular her lateral quickness and jumping ability that allowed her to play big) help put significant bite into the Lady Raiders press. Throw a basketball even a hint carelessly anywhere in her presence and it was likely to become on of her four steals per night. She must have registered countless tap aways and deflections on top of that. Point blank, Miss Foley was a menace. She did a lot of other really nice things here too in helping QND back to the Final Four, including chiming in under radar with an average of seven points and five rebounds per game. If those numbers don't do much for you, just go ask Eric Orne what the Senior meant to his team, both of her own accord and setting the overall defensive tenor for her team.

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      Reserve: KAYLEE KUHN, Unity

      Pertinents and Such: In a year rife with really good underclassmen, we found Unity's Kaylee Kuhn to be one of the more interesting. It's very early on but there are parts of her game right now that remind me of very early Tori Niemann, which is one of the more flattering comparisons I can throw out. She doesn't quite have Tori Tori Tori's competitive "edge" yet where every possession is all out war. But she does have a similar body type, an ethic and ability to mix it up inside as an overproducing wing on the glass, and that dual inside/out component to her game. She also right now is a very natural scorer. She finds ways to put the ball in the basket and in a blink, she's done a nice job filling up a stat sheet. Truth be told, I am really enamored of the state of the Lady Mustangs Freshman Class and Kaylee looks like the early money bet from that group to achieve stardom, but that is a really intriguing group across the board. The biggest question going forward is what will Kaylee do next season in the absence of one of the year's great unsung floor generals in Maggie Bowles, who was fantastic in feeding into the younger kids confidence levels. But the template is certainly there for this to be a very special talent for Brad Begeman.

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      Second Team

      JOSIE FINCH, Illini West

      Why She's Here: Three guards from one team? Without apology. Josie Finch and her ability to provide long range cover fire were a critical part of the equation in Carthage this season. And Josie was a blistering streak shooter (particularly any time she got a chance to shoot in either of Camp Point's gyms) from long range who buried the three as well as anyone in Western Illinois

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      ASHLYNN LAY, Highland

      Why She's Here: Dangerous streak shooter who knocked down 63 triples this season in route to ten points per game and Second Team All Clarence Cannon Conference accord. Granted, she didn't have the greatest final efficiency numbers but this young lady received a lot of defensive attention and I thought even her more "questionable" shot choices were errors of enthusiasm rather than bad shot selection. She wore the mantle of go to option pretty darned well. She won me over with her moxie and more incendary moments shooting the basketball. And on balance, enough of those go a long way for me at the two spot.

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      PAIGE KAYVAN, Keokuk

      Why She's Here: A very encouraging second half of the season. For whatever her growing pain moments, the highs here (8.5 ppg, 38 steals, 57 assists) were entirely encouraging and enough to make us think that this First Team All Conference honoree could eventually be a Breanne Begeman type combo guard with a bit more consistency on her shot. The all around game is there. She's certainly got that level of range, if not accuracy yet from distance. And she is going to be a really good passer when all is said and done.

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      THIRD TEAM

      KAYLEE SMITH, North Shelby

      SADIE POLLARD, Marion County

      JAYLEE CLEMENTS, Pittsfield/P.Hill

      SHELBY DUNN, Clopton

      ALLI DIETRICH, Palmyra

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      SPECIALTY UNITS

      All Frosh Futures Team

      C-ASHTYN LAGEMANN, Clopton

      F-NICOLE KROEGER, Palmyra

      F-CHELSEA WOOD, Scotland County

      G-CALESSE BAIR, Scotland County

      G-KAYLEE SMITH, North Shelby

      Sixth-MCKENZIE FOLEY, Quincy Notre Dame

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      All Hustle Team

      C-ALLYSON BINGHAM, Griggsville

      F-HALEY NIX, Palmyra

      F-ALLISON PHILLIPS, Canton

      G-ABBY BOEDING, Holy Trinity

      G-ELYCE TROUT, Illini West

      Sixth-MAKAYLA ROBBINS, Western

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      All Underrated Team

      C-HARLI LINDSEY, Bowling Green

      F-ASHLEY LEFFRINGHOUSE, Liberty

      F-KYLEY BARNES, Mark Twain

      G-KAILEE GAITHER, Canton

      G-MISHAYLEE CLINE, Clark County

      Sixth-BRITTANY MATHISON, Central Lee

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