Erin Henze, a first-team all-stater in Class 1A for state champion Eastland, finished ninth in the Chicago Tribune’s Ms. Basketball voting.
Henze set a state tournament record for all classes for most 3-pointers and finished one 3-pointer shy of the career state record.
No local player has ever won the Tribune award for the best basketball player in the state, either for boys or girls. The highest local finishers were Freeport’s Jenny Crouse taking third in (future WNBA great Tamika Catchings won) and Auburn’s Fred VanVleet fourth in 2012, when future NBA No. 1 overall draft pick Jabari Parker won.
Kankakee’s Amber Storr, who started out at Rockford Lutheran, tied for seventh with 24 points. Henze had 20 points. Also receiving votes were Eastland teammate Lydia Coatney (six points) and Boylan’s Peyton Kennedy (2 points). There were 69 statewide voters who voted for three players on a 5-3-1 point scale.
“It’s an incredible honor, especially to look at the list and the other people on it,” Henze said. “The same with Lydia. This is an honor she deserves as well. It’s awesome to see our names on the list with all of these amazing basketball players.”
Henze even earned three first-place votes. None of them came from the Rockford Register Star or The Journal-Standard, which did not vote for this award.
“That’s crazy to think about,” Henze said. “I don’t see myself as better than a lot of those girls on that list. They are getting full-ride Division I scholarships. It’s humbling that a couple of people gave me a No. 1 vote.”
Kate Dennis picks Ohio U
Guilford junior Kate Dennis has verbally committed to play women’s basketball for Ohio University. The Bobcats finished 19-11 last year and were 11-7 in the Mid-American Conference. They reached the MAC semifinals and were two wins away from qualifying for the NCAA tourney before the MAC tourney was canceled by the coronavirus. Dennis averaged 15.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and made 53 3-pointers as a junior.
North’s Lambright signs
Belvidere North shot putter and discus thrower Paige Lambright had an impromptu signing in front of her house to join the track team at Missouri S&T. Lambright was second in the NIC-10 in the shot put and third in the discus last year.
Opat out at Chicago State
Misty Opat, who coached RVC to four NJCAA Division III national titles in her final seven seasons at Rock Valley College, resigned as Chicago State women’s basketball coach. Opat was 3-55 in her two seasons at the NCAA Division I school that hasn’t won more than six games in the last nine seasons.
Stillman stars academically
All six of Stillman Valley’s winter sports teams earned the IHSA’s Team Academic Achievement Award for having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Stillman’s boys and girls basketball teams, wrestling squad, cheer, scholastic squad and chess teams all surpassed the standard.
“We are proud of these young men and women who have displayed strength and talent in their sport and activity, but it goes beyond the successes on the court and competition. We are particularly proud of the character they possess as student athletes and competitors,” Superintendent PJ Caposey said in a news release. “I am always so proud of our teams that earn this recognition. It is clear their collective focus remains on being students first.”
Sanders to St. Francis
Auburn quarterback Khamani Sanders signed to play football for St. Francis, an NAIA school in Joliet, for a full scholarship. Sanders set Auburn records with 1,342 yards passing and 14 TDs as a junior. He was injured and missed three games as a senior, throwing for 764 yards. He is the only Auburn QB with 2,000 career yards passing, and his 22 career TD passes are second for Auburn to Nathan Jarrett’s 23.
Matt Trowbridge: firstname.lastname@example.org; @matttrowbridge