This past weekend I traveled out to Benet Academy for this seasons Part 2 of the Chicagoland Invitational Showcase. The event once again featured several of the best teams and players in the state and produced many great games and moments. I’ve seen most of these teams play multiple times this season now, and want to list some of my thoughts from this weekend:
1. I don’t know if you can find as good of a guard duo as Anne Stritzel (2019) and Kaylen Evans (2020) from Nazareth. Both players have a good combination of size and agility that make them match up nightmares for nearly all teams. They both can shoot the three well and drive in the lane with ease. Nazareth is strong all-around, but these two can lead them very far.
2. While the guards from Nazareth are one of the top duo’s, the top trio around may just come from Lincoln Way West. Tara Hastings (2019), Taylor Gugliuzza (2020), and her sister Tara Gugliuzza (2021) are incredibly dynamic. LWW likes to run zone often, but they really get in your face and make it tough to find passing lanes. These three guards love to score in transition and each have a strong ability to knock down shots from deep.
3. St. Ignatius is going to be very competitive over the next few years. While talented starters Molly Gannon and Nicolette McDonald will graduate this year, they have some Juniors and underclassmen that are getting valuable experience this season. Junior Paige Gross and Sophomore Lauren McDonald will take on big leadership roles over talented underclassmen, such as 5’9’’ Freshman Forward Leah Poorman.
4. Fremd is as resilient as it gets and will be a tough out in the postseason. Like Ignatius, Fremd mostly plays Juniors and Sophomores, so they will be a strong team for years to come. Led by Junior 5’10’’ PG Emily Klaczek, they overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to take down Fenwick. Along with the Juniors and Sophomores, Freshman post Brianna Wooldridge continues to be a force to be reckoned with down low.
5. Benet is as deep, or deeper, than any team you will come across. The Redwings are very enjoyable because they have so many players that can lead the team any given night. While the 5 starters are rock solid, there isn’t much deficit when emptying the bench. PG’s Ashley Berry (2020) and Molly Sheehan (2021) are consistent backups behind Senior Clara Prasse, and Kendall Moriarty (2021) is a dynamic scoring option as well. Benet has several talented upperclassmen, but those Sophomores will be a big factor in helping the team make a playoff run.