Friday, December 1, 2023

Illinois has champions in girls’ basketball


Illinois girls’ basketball teams played their final games Saturday at the Redbird Arena on the campus of Illinois State University, Normal. The championship games for Classes 1A and 2A were played last weekend, while the 3A and 4A games were played today.

Benet, girls' basketball champs, Class 4A, IHSA
Benet Academy girls’ basketball team (IHSA)

Class 4A: Lisle (Benet Academy) d. Palatine (Fremd), 42-39

The Redwings from Benet Academy in Lisle defeated the Vikings from Fremd High School in Palatine in a nail-biter to win their second consecutive state title in Class 4A girls’ basketball.

Benet’s Kathleen Doyle was the only player on either team with more than 20 points in the game. Fremd’s Bryana Hopkins had 18. Both players figured prominently in the final possessions of this game.

Down by 2 with 2:20 remaining, Benet passed the ball around the perimeter and eventually got it to Doyle. She put up a 3-point shot, which went in and gave her team the lead.

The 5-10 senior told an IHSA announcer after the game she remembered the shot that gave her team a lead they would never relinquish, despite the excitement of winning a second title.

“It was a big point in the game, and my team trusts me,” she said.

Doyle came on strong after starting the game 0 for 4. “It wasn’t falling at first,” she said, “but my team has faith in me. We try to pick each other up.”

Big players make big plays. Unfortunately for Fremd, Hopkins played the role, down the stretch, of being the Fremd player who could find a way to stop the clock by fouling Benet.

In the game’s final seconds, Hopkins pulled down a missed free throw from Doyle and got fouled herself on the way down. But the 6-2 senior missed the first half of a one-and-one on the other end. With only 17 seconds left in the game, Benet retrieved the rebound.

After one made and one missed free throw attempt for Benet, Fremd had the ball, down 42-39, with a chance to tie with one carefully chosen shot. They got that shot, a 3-pointer from the right. It just missed, and time expired as the teams were battling for the ball off the rebound.

The game was a rematch of the 2015 state title game, which Benet also won for the school’s first title in the sport. Fremd has never won a state championship but, in addition to their runner-up finish last year and this, finished third in 1977, when there were no enrollment classes.

Fremd is coached by Dave Yates and Benet by Joe Kilbride. “I’m just trying to stay out of the way and let her win the game,” Kilbride said of Doyle after the game.

Class 3A: Morton d. Chicago (North Lawndale Charter), 58-41

Brandi Bisping of Morton (IHSA-TV)

The Lady Potters from Morton High School (33-3) defeated the Lady Phoenix from North Lawndale College Prep Charter School in Chicago, 58-41, to win the state girls’ basketball title in Class 3A. The title marks the second consecutive state championship for Morton in the sport.

The first quarter was marked by defense, especially from Morton. They held the Lady Phoenix to just 1 point, which came on a free throw by Kia Brooks with under a minute remaining.

The score was 7-1 for the Lady Potters, and it didn’t look good for North Lawndale. Morton held Morgan Park to just 39 points in the semifinal game yesterday, compared to their usual score of more than 60 points per game this season.

The pace picked up substantially in the second quarter, as Morton’s leading scorer on the year, Brandi Bisping, entered a zone, hitting 3-pointers and completing two 3-point plays the old-fashioned way. She scored 19 points in the game to lead the Lady Potters.

“When she goes beast mode, something good is happening,” Morton coach Bob Becker said about Bisping at halftime.

In one very exciting play with 56 seconds left in the second quarter, she took a shot from the baseline, missed, got the rebound, sunk it, and drew the foul to complete the 3-point play.

Without Chandler Ryan, Morton tends to score a lot of points on free throws. The senior was injured in December and has been serving as a sideline mentor ever since. With her support from the sideline, the team has found ways to win this season and go for a repeat of their championship last year.

She was whistled into the game with 27.9 seconds left, in between foul shots down the home stretch. The ball was never in play with her on the floor, but it was an emotional moment for this team as their injured star stepped in for a final moment in a Morton uniform. She’s headed to Florida Gulf Coast University this fall.

Bisping, a 5-11 junior, had 495 points this season going into the state tournament. She has already passed the 1,000-point mark in her high school career, as her sister also did at Morton, when she was a player. She’s now an assistant coach.

“There’s always going to be people who doubt you, but it doesn’t matter what they think; it’s what you think,” Bisping told an IHSA interviewer after the game.

Morton beat Rochester, 47-37, to win the state title in 2015. North Lawndale, coached by Corey Morgan, has never been in the state tournament, making this their first appearance during the championship weekend.

Class 2A: Byron d. Teutopolis

The Tigers from Byron High School defeated the Teutopolis Lady Shoes, 53-44, to win the state girls’ basketball title in Class 2A.

It was the first state title for Byron, while Teutopolis has won several in the sport: 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, and 1995.

Byron is coached by Eric Yerly and Teutopolis by Laurie Thompson.

Class 1A: Hardin (Calhoun) d. Moweaqua (Central A & M)

In overtime, the Warriors from Calhoun High School in Hardin defeated the Raiders from Central A&M High School in Moweaqua, 60-56, to win the state girls’ basketball title in Class 1A.

The game was a rematch of the 2015 state title game, which Cental A&M won, 54-41. Last year marked the first state title in girls’ basketball for Central A&M, while this year’s title marks the first for Calhoun.

Central A&M is coached by Tom Dooley and Calhoun by Aaron Baalman.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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