Highland junior guard Amanda Ponce received all-state honorable mention honors in Class 3A last Thursday, when the Associated Press announced its Class 3A-4A girls basketball all-state teams.
Ponce averaged a team-leading 13.8 points per game. She also ranked first on the Lady Bulldogs in total steals (78) and steals per game (2.89). The 5-foot-10 guard also averaged 3.7 rebounds and 2.07 assists in helping Highland go 27-4 overall, which was highlighted by going 9-1 and winning the outright Mississippi Valley Conference crown to repeat as conference champions.
“It means a lot, and I’m more than happy to receive this award,” Ponce said. “The season ended way too fast, and it was heartbreaking, but it was an honor representing HHS with this talented team this year. Looking ahead to next season, it’s a new year, and a lot of players have a chance to step it up and make a positive impact to this coming season. We’ve always had high expectations in the program, and there’s no reason not to next year.”
It was the second straight season the Lady Bulldogs have had a player named as an all-state honorable mention by the AP. Current senior Olivia LaPorta received the same recognition one year ago. This fall, LaPorta is headed to the Northeast to play volleyball at Fordham University in the Bronx, N.Y., after finishing her career with another strong campaign. She finished second on the team in scoring with an 11.9-point scoring average and paced the squad in rebounding at 8.4 boards per contest.
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Being named as an all-state honorable mention by the AP capped off a successful season in which Ponce received awards throughout the entire campaign, from beginning to end. At the season-opening Salem Lady Wildcat Thanksgiving Tournament in November, Ponce was named the MVP after leading Highland to the tournament title. In late December, she was named to the all-tournament second team at the 37th annual Mascoutah Girls Basketball Invitational. Then in January, she was named to the all-tournament first team at the 29th annual Scott Credit Union Highland Girls Basketball Tournament.
Civic Memorial sophomore Allie Troeckler was the lone first-team all-state selection from the region. Troeckler had the fourth-highest vote total among all 3A players after averaging 21 points and 8.7 rebounds for the 26-7 Eagles, who won a regional championship. She has scored more than 1,100 points in only two varsity seasons.
Belleville West senior guard Shay Fluker earned second-team all-state honors in Class 4A. Fluker was one of the top scorers in the area, averaging 20.8 points and 5.2 rebounds with 78 3-pointers and 20 blocked shots. The Maroons (25-6) won a regional championship and lost to Southwestern Conference rival East St. Louis in the sectional.
Belleville West senior guard Imani Berry received 4A honorable mention all-state honors. Berry averaged 19.4 points for the Maroons with 51 3-pointers and 105 steals.
Edwardsville freshman forward Rachel Pranger and sophomore guard Makenzie Silvey also received 4A honorable mention all-state honors. Pranger led Edwardsville in scoring (15.2 per game) and rebounding (7.9 per game), while she and Silvey, who averaged 14.3 points with 43 3-pointers, helped the Tigers win 30 straight games before losing to Benet Academy (Lisle) in the Class 4A Illinois Wesleyan University Super-Sectional.