Anna Hall entered the 2018-19 basketball season knowing she was a better basketball player.
A 5-11 junior guard/forward, Hall had already established herself as one of the top players in the Mississippi Valley Conference as well as the St. Louis area. In her first two years in the Civic Memorial lineup, Hall helped lead the Eagles to two straight league titles and two Class 3A regional championships.
But when Hall stepped onto the court for the Eagles season opener at the Taylorville Tournament in November, she wasn’t just better, she was different.
“I wasn’t as afraid as I’ve been in the past to make mistakes because I knew it was alright to make mistakes,’’ Hall said. “Knowing that is what I think made me better this year because I wasn’t afraid to step outside of my comfort zone. It allowed me to try different things on the court. It allowed me to expand my game. I wouldn’t say I had a lack of confidence before, but I think I shocked myself with what I was able to do this year. I probably shocked a lot of other people too.’’
What Hall did during the 2018-19 season was become one of the top players in Illinois.
A first-team Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Class 3A all-state selection, Hall averaged 17.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game for an Eagles team which went undefeated in the MVC (10-0), reached the Class 3A sectional title game and finished the season 29-6.
The Belleville News-Democrat Class 3A-4A Player of the Year, Hall also had 21 double-doubles and shot 56 percent from the field. Hall joins Allie Troeckler (2017) as the only Eagles to win the BND honor. Troeckler is currently a member of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville basketball program.
A freshman when Troeckler was a senior, Hall is honored to be in the select class with the former Eagles all-state player.
“She was one of the best players in school history. To win the same same honor she did is a great accomplishment,’’ Hall said. “I started my freshman year and so just be on the same court was a great experience. She used to guard me at practice and she really pushed me to be better. That was a tremendous help in being the player I am.’’
Already with 1,126 points and 680 rebounds in her career, Hall is on pace to join Troeckler and another former Eagles great, Katie Broadway, as the top players in school history. At times still unselfish to a fault, Hall also has 202 steals and 101 assists in a career where she has helped the Eagles win 29 of 30 MVC games.
And Hall still has one year left.
”If she has another big year next season, she’s going to end up with 1,800-1,00 points and over 1,000 rebounds.,’’ Eagles coach Jonathan Denney said. “But what makes Anna so good is that she is a total team player. As long as we win, she’s happy.
“Anna had an unbelievable year for us. She was a double-double machine, and had some big time games against some very talented teams. She is one of the best I’ve ever coached at just going and getting the ball. A tremendous rebounder who presents a tough matchup for opposing posts with her ability to stretch the defense with her shot while beating them off the bounce. She’s really improved her post up game and is old school at sealing defenders. She was an absolute beast when she got going in the open court.”
Introduced to the game by her dad at the age of 5, Hall began playing organized basketball in the third grade in church leagues and on other teams. It was during that time, she began playing with Kourtland Tyus.
Eight years later, the Hall-Tyus combination has become formidable. Tyus, a 5-9 junior, is regarded as one of the top point guards in the state.
“We’ve grown up playing basketball together,’’ Hall said. “It’s great to be able to play with a teammates who know your game and you know hers so well. We have a great chemistry between us. Kourtland is a great player,’’ Hall said. “Actually the entire team has good chemistry You are always going to have one of two players who have their differences, but on the court we all have the same goal which is to be successful and win basketball games.’’
An excellent student who carried a 4.1 GPA, Hall has already drawn interest from colleges such as Lindenwood-St. Charles, SIU Edwardsville and SIU-Carbondale, among others.