Girls Basketball

Lebanon senior overcame injury to again be named girls basketball Player of the Year

Kendra Bass was a near-unanimous choice among metro-east girls basketball coaches as the BND's small-school player of the year. It's the second year in a row she's earned the honor.
Kendra Bass was a near-unanimous choice among metro-east girls basketball coaches as the BND's small-school player of the year. It's the second year in a row she's earned the honor. dholtmann@bnd.com

As a member of the Lebanon High School girls basketball team the past four years, Kendra Bass' numbers speak for themselves.

Bass was a major factor in Lebanon winning three Cahokia Conference championships, four straight Class 1A regional titles and becoming the first Greyhounds basketball team — boys or girls — to advance to state.

The Greyhounds went on to place third at the state tournament last month in Normal.

Bass, whose 1,427 points are second only to Jessica Willman's 1,465 on the all-time Lebanon list, averaged 14.4 points and 5.3 rebounds this season. Improving her perimeter shooting and accuracy, Bass made 56 percent of her shots, including 39 percent (20 of 51) from beyond the 3-point line.

But it doesn't stop there.

Combining with sister Krista Bass for eight steals a game, she also averaged nearly four assists and was a near-unanimous choice by area coaches for her second straight Belleville News-Democrat Class 1A-2A Girls Basketball Player of the Year honor.

For the 2017-18 Greyhounds, it wasn't about personal accolades and piling up impressive point totals. After dominating the local 1A competition only to see their season come to an end in sectional competition against Hardin-Calhoun the previous two years, they wanted another look at Redbird Arena.

Lebanon won the junior-high state championship under coach Kerry Allen in 2014. With the same starting five from that team, three seniors included, this was their last and best chance to win a high school state title.

"It would have been sad for this team not to get to state," Bass said. "We all worked hard in the weight room and in the gym this summer, and I honestly felt that we had five players who could score on any given night. Teams wouldn't be able to stop all of us.'

"Calhoun had been the team (that) had beaten us the last two years, and if we played them again this year, we were going to be ready for them. But beating Okawville in the sectional final and then playing so well and beating Lewistown that night in the super (-sectional), it was just a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Like, we had finally made it (to state). I remember the ride home that night. We got back about midnight, and as we were getting into Lebanon, we were all yelling out the windows, 'We're going to state!"

Bass was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association first-team all-state selection this season. But those accomplishments aren't what made her a special player to Greyhounds coach Chad Cruthis.

"I love her to death, and she might not like to hear me say this, but what really sets her apart from other players is her unwillingness to lose. She is a competitor," Cruthis said. "She may not be the best practice player at times, but she knew when it was time to turn it on and when it was time to get serious.

"You don't come back from the two types of injuries — a shoulder injury last year and a partially torn PCL in her right knee this year — without that special kind of tenacity. I don't know. I just think there are people who are winners."

Despite a partially torn ligament in her knee suffered in a game at Dupo, Bass helped lead Lebanon to a mark of 32-2 this season. In her career, the Greyhounds had a mark of 108-13.

But with the Greyhounds holding a 20-0 record and ranked in the top three in the Class 1A state poll, Bass' high school career was put on hold by the PCL tear she suffered Jan. 20.

"I was just praying that I wouldn't have to have surgery. That would have killed my heart," Bass said. "I was just hoping I could come back and we could finish the season like we did.

"When I went to the doctor and he said there was a zero percent chance that I could play, there wasn't much I could do about that. Then we went back again and were told the knee was healing quickly and that I could play. It all worked out very well."

Once at the state tournament, it was back to business as usual.

Game day of the state semifinal round began like any other for Bass — with pregame nerves.

"I'm always nervous before a game. It's always been like that. I don't know if its all nerves or part of it is just excitement. The nerves go away though when the ball goes up and we have our first possession. I'm fine after that," Bass said.

But paired against a Schlarman Academy team that featured at least three future Division I recruits, Lebanon fell 51-40.

"I really wasn't even mad after we lost that game," Bass said. "They were that good, and nobody really expected the game to be as close as it turned out to be."

The Greyhounds responded with another typical performance in the third-place game the next day. Getting a solid team effort, Lebanon had little trouble defeating Okaw Valley 46-31.

Bass will close her athletic career at Lebanon this spring as a member of the softball team. Then she'll hit the weight room to prepare for her college career. The Bass sisters announced recently that they will play basketball at Illinois College, a Division III school in Jacksonville.

Cruthis is an Illinois College graduate, and his daughter is a sophomore at the school. Kendra and Krista Bass also considered Southwestern Illinois College and St. Louis Community College.

"It's a really good school with a really nice facility. We stayed with Coach's daughter when we went up for our visit, and we really liked what we saw," Bass said. "The coach (Jennifer McCormick) I believe is in her second season. It's a program that we feel is on the rise and that we want to be a part of."

Cruthis took the Bass sisters' chances of making an impact as freshmen one step further.

"If the coach stays true to her word and plays the up-tempo style with a lot of pressing and trapping, then I think they could get an opportunity as freshmen. But they have to go in and really work hard," Cruthis said.

Belleville News-Democrat Class 1A-2A All-Area Girls Basketball Team

Player of the Year

Kendra Bass, Lebanon, sr.

Coach of the Year

Chad Cruthis, Lebanon

First Team

  • Krista Bass, Lebanon, sr.

  • Karly Stanowski, Nashville, sr.

  • Kierra Winkeler, Mater Dei, jr.

  • Emily Reinneck, Lebanon, jr.

  • Myah Beckmann, Mater Dei, sr.

Second Team

  • Madison Schoenfeld, Lebanon, sr.

  • Madelyn Tepe, Okawville, jr.

  • Paige Kasten, Nashville, sr.

  • Sophie Richards, Red Bud, sr.

  • Brooklynn Smith, Carlyle, jr.

Third Team

  • Lauren Fischer, Marquette, sr.

  • Tiffani Siekmann, Althoff, jr.

  • Anna McKee, Father McGivney, fr.

  • Casean Tebbe, Okawville, sr.

  • Audrey Jansen, Okawville, sr.

Honorable Mention

Libby Ahlers, Nashville; Tamara Anderson, Madison; Tamia Anderson, Madison; Maddie Davis, Gibault; Molly Diekemper, Carlyle; Madison Hackstadt, Okawville; Jenna Haselhorst, Wesclin; Tinleigh Jakimauskas, Valmeyer; Sami Kasting, Metro-East Lutheran; Peyton Kline, Marquette; Sophia Koesterer, Red Bud; Shannon Lampe, Mater Dei; Emma Lucas, Roxana; Courtney Ragland, New Athens; Abigail Reinneck, Lebanon; Ellen Schulte, Metro-East Lutheran; Gabby Siekmann, Althoff; Lila Snider, Marquette; Madison Webb, Father McGivney; Ellie Wessel, Wesclin; Danika White, New Athens; Ashlyn Wightman, Gibault

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