2018 State Farm Holiday Classic Preview: Small-school bracket
The State Farm Holiday Classic celebrates its 40th tournament in the Bloomington-Normal area and features 64 teams. The small-school bracket has quality talent and teams across the board. Annawan returns to defend its title but as the fourth-seeded team in…
The State Farm Holiday Classic celebrates its 40th tournament in the Bloomington-Normal area and features 64 teams. The small-school bracket has quality talent and teams across the board.
Annawan returns to defend its title but as the fourth-seeded team in the bracket. The Bravettes no longer have a VanHyfte as the youngest, Jayde, is playing as a true freshman at Arizona State. She is the tournament’s all-time leading scorer.
St. Joseph-Ogden is the top-seeded team in this year’s field but won’t have an easy path to the championships game. Let’s meet this year’s field.
1. St. Joseph-Ogden (11-2)
The Spartans breezed through the Fisher-GCMS Thanksgiving Tournament and has only been tripped up by 3A-power Morton and the consistently good Teutopolis. A possible rematch with Fithian Oakwood looms in the second round, which SJ-O won 52-45 on Dec. 1.
Bree Trimble (2019) is leading the Spartans in scoring at 15.2 points per game. She scored her 1,000th career point in last year’s regional semifinals. Parkland recruit Peyton Crowe (2019) is scoring 11.4 points per game and provides a good compliment to the 5-foot-9 Trimble as a 5-8 guard. Hannah Dukeman (2020) has been efficient, going 40-for-58 (69 percent) to open the year. She also is second on the team with 3.2 assists per game.
2. Bishop McNamara (10-7)
The Irish return everybody from last year’s Sweet Sixteen team and has played a 3A/4A schedule early on with losses to Richwoods, Morton, Kenwood, Riverside-Brookfield, Bradley-Bourbonnais, Joliet Central and Minooka.
Ali Berg (2019) exploded on the summer circuit and committed to IUPUI. The 6-2 forward scored her 1,000th career point this season. Returning guard Precious Browning (2019) received all-state recognition. The two compliment each other well and make the Irish a viable threat to win the tournament and make a deep postseason run.
3. Brimfield (12-3)
The Indians have won three-straight regional titles and 11 over the last 15 years. This year’s senior-led squad wants to take it a step further with state aspirations. Brimfield has a pair of losses to Midwest Central/Delavan, a Sweet Sixteen team in Class 2A last year, and a third to Knoxville in the Abingdon/Avon Tournament Championship Game.
Kamryn Cuevas (2019) paces the attack as a versatile 5-10 forward. Haley Wallace (2021) can swing a game by herself as a talented athlete and scorer. Delaney Smith (2019) is strong at point guard for the Indians and fills in her fair share in the scorebook. At 5-9, Mallory Meinke (2019) holds her own in the trenches to secure rebounds and fight for loose balls.
4. Annawan (8-3)
Last year’s Classic Champions have taken a step back from last year with the departure of VanHyfte, but the Bravettes look to continue to use their trapping defense to turn defense to offense.
Annawan features a three-headed attack led by 5-6 guard Keegan Rico (2020), 5-9 forward Ella Manuel (2021) and 5-10 center Emily Miller (2021).
5. Bloomington Central Catholic (10-3)
Central Catholic has won seven straight, including a marquee win over Eureka, since losses to Normal Community, Lincoln Way East and Bishop McNamara (82-75). The Saints finished third in last year’s Classic.
Bailey Coffman (uncommitted 2019) and Lauren Shanks (2019) are a difficult duo to stop. The 6-1 Coffman is a two-way star averaging 17.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.9 steals per game. Shanks, a 5-6 guard, is active on both ends, scoring 14.5 points per game and dishing 4.3 assists per game. Defensively she’s swiping the ball five times per contest and is grabbing 4.2 rebounds per game.
6. Rochester (8-7)
The Rockets have been challenged with three, one-possession losses, and quality losses to Pleasant Plains, Quincy Notre Dame and Bethalto Civic Memorial.
Maddie Kauffman (2020), a 5-11 forward, leads the Rochester attack. Peyton Boudouris (2019) is a 3-point marksman that helps space the floor.
7. Rock Falls (10-6)
The Rockets were on a seven-game winning streak before losing four of their last five at the loaded Sterling Tournament, featuring Richwoods, Rockton Hononegah and Rock Island.
Rock Falls has a mix of size and speed with second-year point guard Abi Peyton (2021) taking a step up after averaging 10 points per game as a freshman. Molly Buck (2019) is a 5-8 wing that compliments post players in 6-foot Mackenzie Olson (2019) and 5-11 Elise Moeller (2020).
8. Camp Point Central/Augusta Southeastern (8-1)
The Panthers opened the season with eight-straight wins, including over Quincy Notre Dame, but dropped its last game to Monmouth-Roseville, 55-52, heading into the Classic. Head coach Matt Long won his 500th career game this season.
Quincy University recruit Laney Lantz (2019) is a two-time All-Classic winner and is back to lead CS-E. The 5-7 guard handles the scoring load and is a difficult matchup for anyone. She’s one of four returning starters.
9. Fithian Oakwood (11-3)
Oakwood has won five straight after a 52-45 loss to SJ-O. The Comets lost the Tri-County in the Comet Classic Championship 70-32 and then suffered a one-point loss to Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond. Stephanie Marsh is in her first year coaching her alma mater.
Katelyn Young (2020) is one of the best prospects in the tournament. The 6-1 forward has offers from Xavier, Bradley, Southern Illinois, Indiana State, Murray State, Eastern Illinois, St. Bonaventure, Kent State, Northern Kentucky and Old Dominion. She’s averaging 18.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals, 2.1 blocks and 2.1 assists per game. Kylie Neuman (2019) is a strong compliment as a 5-6 guard that’s averaging 13.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.7 steals per game. She’s heading to Danville Area Community College to play softball.
10. Rock Island Alleman (6-8)
Alleman is challenged in the Western Big 6 Conference, primarily made up of 3A/4A schools, but the Pioneers have beaten teams of similar enrollment. Megan McCracken is the school’s all-time leading scorer and head coach. She was a three-time All-Classic selection (1999-2001).
Gabbi Loiz (2019) is a returning all-conference pick. The 5-9 guard is Alleman’s leading scorer, averaging 11.8 points per game.
11. IC Catholic (3-8)
The Knights enter the tournament having lost six of their last seven games. Jaida Smith (2019) returns as an all-conference selection and is complimented by 5-4 guard Abi Wagner (2020) and 5-10 forward Claire Wagner (2022), a rising prospect.
12. Rockford Lutheran (6-6)
The Crusaders have rebounded nicely, winning six of their last seven after dropping the first five games of the season. Rockford Lutheran returns two starters, having lost Ambranette Storr, who transferred to Kankakee. Guards Lauren Spangler (2021) and Olivia Warneke (2020) are the returning starters.
13. El Paso-Gridley (7-4)
First-year coach Nathan Ehrhardt has a young Titans team after graduating All-Classic player Aubrey Staton. EP-G has been in every game its played with no loss by more than six points. Point guard Jordyn Cannon (2022) is among the balanced rotation.
14. Sherrard (5-8)
Sherrard has endured an up-and-down start to the season while looking to figure the unknowns. Taylor Barber (2021) showed promise when scoring 20 in last year’s regional and is looking to take another step in her game. Forward Taylor Whitesell (2019) earned second-team TRAC honors last year.
15. St. Thomas More (1-9)
The Sabres have struggled to start the season under new coach Ashley VanEtten. Illinois-Springfield recruit NaKaya Hughes (2019) leads the Sabres and is averaging 10.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. She scored a season-high 27 in a 58-43 loss to SJ-O. Guard Abby Leibach (2019) spaces the floor, with 17 of her 23 made field goals coming from 3-point range.
16. Peoria Christian (0-12)
The Chargers are led by first-year coach Cathryne Moore, who inherits a young roster with four freshmen and three sophomores. Tiffany Mallow (2020) is Peoria Christian’s leading scorer.