Girls Basketball

Tournament titles carry teams to top of BND girls basketball poll

Nashville's Paige Kasten passes the ball away from Mater Dei's Kelsey Gerdes during their Class 2A Regional at Dupo High School last Feburary.
Nashville's Paige Kasten passes the ball away from Mater Dei's Kelsey Gerdes during their Class 2A Regional at Dupo High School last Feburary. Zia Nizami

For more than 31 minutes Saturday, the Nashville Hornettes seemed destined for a second place finish at their own Nashville Thanksgiving Tournament. Junior guard Paige Kasten had other ideas.

Kasten connected on her fifth of five 3-point baskets with less than 10 seconds remaining as the Hornettes rallied for a 36-34 win as the Assembly Hall at Nashville High School.

“I think we had a 1-0 lead in the opening seconds, and then we didn’t lead again until Paige hit the 3-point shot with eight seconds left,” Nashville coach Doug Althoff said. “Okawville is a very, very good team, and they’re going to win a lot of games this year, but to our girls’ credit we kept battling and played better in the second half.

“It was a big shot. But I kind of expect that from Paige. She’s only a junior, but this is her third season as a starter. She’s hit pressure shots before.”

Nashville is ranked first in the News-Democrat Small School poll at 4-0. Okawville is 5-1 after beating (Centralia) Christ Our Rock Lutheran on Monday.

But Okawville, which like Nashville starts four underclassmen, had one slip away on Saturday. Using the play of junior Madison Hackstadt, the Lady Rockets had the game under control until Kasten got hot in the second half.

“We had a couple of defensive breakdowns, and they (Nashville) got some wide open looks. But when (Kasten) banked home a 3-point shot from a tough angle, that’s about the time I thought we were in trouble,” Okawville coach Michelle Hasheider-Burinek said. “You never want to lose, but in way maybe that game was a wake-up call for us. We came back on Monday and won at (Centralia) Christ Our Rock.

“We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good group of girls. They’ve come in and worked hard. The goal is to continue to improve as the season goes on.”

The Hornettes and Lady Rockets will meet at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Okawville High School.

Edwardsville dominates

The Edwardsville Tigers are once again off and flying.

Led by junior Kate Martin and senior Makenzie Silvey, the Tigers (4-0) opened their season last week by winning the Springfield Southeast Thanksgiving Tournament.

Silvey, who along with teammate Criste’on Waters will play college basketball at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale beginning in the 2017-18 season, averaged 15.7 points, while Martin averaged 15.3 points per contest.

The Tigers were pushed to the limited by perennial Class 3A state power Rochester in a 48-45 win, defeated Champaign Central (77-17), Peoria Central (77-53) and East St. Louis (65-34) in their other three wins.

The Tigers will host Collinsville on Thursday before traveling to Belleville East on Dec. 6.


Edwardsville junior Rachel Pranger joined some elite company last week when she went over the 1,000 point mark for her career. One of the top players in the the state, the 6-foot Pranger accomplished the feat in the Tigers 77-17 season-opening win over Champaign Central in the Springfield Southeast Tournament last week.

Pranger becomes the 15th player in Edwardsville High School history to score 1,000 points. Former All-stater Emmonnie Henderson is Edwardsville’s all-time leading scorer with more than 1,800 career points.

While Pranger went over the 1,000 point mark, Civic Memorial senior and two-time all-state selection Allie Troeckler is on the verge of going over the 2,000 point mark for her Eagles career.

A 5-foot-10 guard-forward, Troeckler currently has 1,980 points and could go over the 2,000 milestone on Thursday when the Eagles host Waterloo in a Mississippi Valley Conference game. A Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville recruit, Troeckler will end her Eagles career in 2017 as the school’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals.

“Allie is stronger than ever and poised for a great senior year. With the support she’s receiving from the other girls this year, she’s able to show off her complete game,” Civic Memorial coach Jonathan Denney said. “She’s more than just a scorer. Her assist totals are up along with being among the area leaders of not leading in rebounds, blocks and steals. With added production from the supporting cast she will be more and more explosive as the season progresses.”

Salem finale

Expected to battle for the Mississippi Valley Conference title, the Civic Memorial Eagles and Highland Bulldogs staged another memorable battle on Saturday in the title game of the Salem Thanksgiving Tournament.

And the Eagles gained a small bit of revenge.

A two-time all-state player, Troeckler scored 18 points while three teammates added double figures as Civic Memorial posted a 57-45 win.

Alaira Tyus added 13 points for the Eagles (5-0) which also received 12 points from Anna Hall and 10 from Kaylee Eaton. The balanced scoring was exactly what coach Jonathan Denney wanted to see from his team against the always dangerous Bulldogs.

“Having four girls in double figures on Saturday in the title game was huge. We’ve had great balance through the first five games with double digit performances by other girls besides Allie which makes us difficult to match up with at times,” Denney said.

“Twice in the tournament (vs. Highland and vs. Teutopolis) Allie spent considerable time on the bench in foul trouble only to see juniors, Alaira Tyus and Kaylee Eaton, and freshmen Kourtland Tyus and Anna Hall, step up with big plays and shots to keep us in the game and even extend our leads.”

Red Bud off and winning

After leading the Musketeers to 10 wins a year ago, second year coach Haylee Althoff has Red Bud off to a 4-2 start. Led by high-scoring Sophie Richards, the Musketteers went 4-1 in the Sparta Tournament, losing only to Sesser-Valier in their season opener (50-27). Richards leads Red Bud in scoring at 11 points per game.

“I was very happy with how we played in the tournament. It was a great way to start the season. My players played well and worked well together and I am looking forward to this season,” Althoff said. “I have a good group of girls to work with. They work hard and are willing to put in the effort to get better. We still have things we need to work on and fix but that will come with playing more games.”

Following are the weekly Belleville News-Democrat girls basketball rankings for metro-east high school teams:

BND Girls Basketball Rankings

Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff. First-place votes are in parentheses; records through Tuesday

Large school rankings (Class 3A-4A)





Edwardsville (5)



Civic Memorial



Belleville West



Belleville East





Also receiving votes: O’Fallon (3-1), Collinsville (4-1), Granite City (1-0), East St. Louis (2-3), Columbia (4-1), Jerseyville (3-2)

Small school rankings (Class 1A-2A)








Mater Dei











Also receiving votes: Wesclin (2-4), Gibault (3-2), Red Bud (4-2), New Athens (2-3)