From the time Kendra Bass first stepped on the basketball court at Lebanon High School three years ago, her style of play has been the trademark of the Greyhounds’ program.
Teaming with her twin sister, Krista, to form a top guard combination, Bass’ determination, nonstop hustle and natural athletic ability have made her one of the top players in the Cahokia Conference each of the past three years. With Bass playing a key role, the Greyhounds went 76-11 over the past three seasons and have added three Class 1A regional championship plaques to the school’s trophy case.
In the 2016-17 season, Bass was at her very best.
Leading a balanced Greyhounds scoring attack with 16.8 points per game, the 5-foot-5 Bass also pulled down nearly five rebounds, handed out 2.3 assists and added 4.5 steals per game for a Lebanon squad which was ranked first in the Class 1A state poll most of the season and finished 28-2.
But the numbers alone aren’t what made Bass a better player this season.
“I was a smarter player this year. I made better decisions with the basketball,” Bass said. “When I would take the ball down the lane, I would think about what the better option would be. Those types of things, I think, made me a better player.
“It wasn’t just me. We worked together and became a better team. We’re all really close, and that helps. These are all my best friends.”
Bass, voted the Belleville News-Democrat Class 1A-2A Player of the Year, and her Greyhounds teammates saw their season end the same way for the second straight year — with a loss to Hardin-Calhoun in a sectional semifinal. Calhoun, the 2016 state champion, placed third in the Class 1A state tournament in Normal.
Becoming a Greyhound
The Bass sisters and Abigail Reinneck won an eighth grade state championship before becoming members of the Greyhounds as freshmen.
“When that group of kids came in, they were good athletes, but they had a long way to go to become good fundamental basketball players,” Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis said. “... after their freshman year, even though they had a good record, they realized that they had a long way to be at the Hardin-Calhoun, or at the time the New Athens, level. They knew they needed to put in the extra time.
“Kendra has done that. Last summer, Kendra came in and would get out the (shooting) gun and take 500 or 600 shots, two or three times a week, realizing that’s what she wants to do in college.”
A second-team all-state selection, Bass is the latest member of the Lebanon 1,000-point club. Currently with 1,083 points heading into her senior season, Bass will likely be among the top five all time in scoring for Lebanon when she graduates in 2018.
“As good of a person as Kendra is on the basketball court, she’s 10 times a better person off the court,” Cruthis said. “Don’t get me wrong. She is a competitive person, and she wants to prove she’s the best player on the court every night. But she’s all about the team and doing what she can to make us better as a team.”
Sidetracked by injury
Bass sat in Cruthis’ office on an early March afternoon with her right arm is in a sling, a trophy of a recent surgery to repair a damaged labrum in her right shoulder. The injury came late in the season, although Bass isn’t sure exactly when or where it happened.
Bass expected to begin therapy on her shoulder in late March. A catcher on the Greyhounds softball team, she will miss the entire 2017 softball season.
“I can’t remember how I did it ... exactly. I would guess that I was probably reaching or something,” Bass said “It was painful, and it affected the way I played. I didn’t want to risk hurting it more, and so I couldn’t be as aggressive as I like to be when I play. That’s my game.”
Lebanon rolled though the Madison regional, beating Metro East Lutheran in the title game. But playing the defending state champions in their own sectional, the Greyhounds saw their season come to an end.
“It was disappointing. They (Hardin-Calhoun) had an advantage playing on their home floor. But they were a good team, and they played well that night,” Bass said. “But we had a great season as well. We accomplished a lot this season.”
Bass wants to play college basketball and should attract interest from several NAIA and NCAA Division II and Division III programs. She has no place in mind at the moment.
“I’ll probably play point guard in college — where that will be, I have no idea, yet. ... I know I have to get stronger and work on my ballhandling a little bit more. I have to improve in all areas of the game though,” Bass said. I would like to maybe become a police officer, but I also love animals. We’ll see.”
At a glance
This is the 2016-17 Belleville News-Democrat Class 1A-2A girls all-area basketball team:
Player of the Year
- Kendra Bass, Lebanon, jr.
Coach of the Year
- Chad Cruthis, Lebanon
- Kyleigh Vaught, Althoff, sr.
- Madison Hackstadt, Okawville, jr.
- Kelsey Gerdes, Mater Dei, sr.
- Paige Kasten, Nashville, jr.
- Emily Reinneck, Lebanon, soph.
- Krista Bass, Lebanon, jr.
- Maggie Reimer, Althoff, sr.
- Kierra Winkeler, Mater Dei, soph.
- Konnija Greer, Madison, sr.
- Sophie Richards, Red Bud, jr.
- Logan Braundmeier, Mater Dei, sr.
- Tamara Anderson, Madison; Bethany Brinkman, Valmeyer; Catherine Deterding, Gibault; Jordan Drake, New Athens; Lauren Fischer, Marquette; Delphanae Griffin, Madison; Macy Hoppes, Father McGivney; Sami Kasting, Metro East Lutheran; Cami Meadows, Wesclin, Mackenzie Pim, Steeleville; Madison Schoenfeld, Lebanon; Ellen Schulte, Metro East Lutheran; Brooklynn Smith, Carlyle; Karly Stanowski, Nashville; Casean Tebbe, Okawville; Madelyn Teppe, Okawville; Madison Webb, Father McGivney; Ellie Wessel, Wesclin.