Girls Basketball

Five players to watch in metro-east girls basketball

Lebanon senior Kendra Bass.
Lebanon senior Kendra Bass. Zia Nizami

Kendra Bass, Lebanon

The senior guard scored 16.8 points per game last season to lead the Greyhounds, whose two losses included a nine-point heart-breaker Hardin Calhoun in the sectional semifinals. A second-team all-state selection by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association last year, the 5-foot-5 Bass shot 50 percent from the field last season, but also pulled down five rebounds per game, blocked 16 shots and led the team with 126 steals on the defensive end of the floor. Bass joins twin sister Krista (10.4 ppg), Emily Reinneck (13.2 ppg) and Madison Schoenfield (7.2 rebounds per game) in a stout and experienced lineup that will make the Greyhounds early favorites in Illinois Class 1A.

Madison Hackstadt
Okawville senior Madison Hackstadt signs her letter of intent to play at SIUE. Photo provided

Madison Hackstadt, Okawville

A 6-foot forward bound for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Hackstadt averaged 15.3 points and 5.4 rebounds last season as the Rockets finished 23-7. She was a third-team all-state pick by the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association. SIUE head coach Paula Buscher says she was drawn to the multi-sport Hackstadt because of versatility — she has “good 3-point range and will provide length on the perimeter,” she said. Casean Tebbe (8.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg), Madelyn Tepe (7.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg) and Audrey Jansen (6.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg) also return to the well-stocked Rockets.

Edwardsville senior Rachel Pranger. Zia Nizami

Rachel Pranger, Edwardsville

Finally a senior, the fourth-year starter is still trying to decide where she’ll go to college to continue her volleyball career. But after her Tigers lost by a point to Geneva in the Illinois Class 4A championship game last spring, Pranger still has unfinished business left on the basketball court. The 6-foot forward was second on team last season with 13.1 points per game and her 8.1 rebounds per game led the way. Also returning from the state runners-up are senior Iowa-commit Kate Martin (12.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and Kansas State-bound junior Myriah Noodel-Haywood (7.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg).

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Belleville East junior Kaylah Rainey. Zia Nizami

Kaylah Rainey, Belleville East

Rainey averaged just under 16 points and shot better than 50 percent from the floor as a sophomore last season for the 20-10 Lancers. She averaged nearly five steals, three rebounds and three assists and was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association third team all-state selection. ESPN rates Rainey a three-star prospect: “Explosively athletic lead guard tough to contain off the dribble, penetrates, distributes; 1-on-1 creator, mid-range game creator.” NCAA Division-I offers are beginning to mount, including overtures from Iowa, Kansas, Illinois, Miami-Ohio, among others. She’s twice earned invitations to tryout for the US National U16 team.

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Belleville East senior Sydney Thurwalker. Zia Nizami

Sydney Thurwalker, O’Fallon

Thurwalker has been a presence in the Belleville West lineup for three seasons, but has moved on to O’Fallon for her senior year. The 5-10 forward had a breakout year as a junior. She averaged 12.9 points per game and was among area leaders averaging 10 rebounds for a team that finished 18-12. She’ll fill an important role vacated by Marta Durk — who has taken her 18.5 points per game to Missouri S&T — on a Panthers’ team that has a deep mix of seniors and underclass talent.

Todd Eschman: 618-239-2540, @tceschman