Chanel Fanter has been a mainstay in the Saint Xavier University women’s basketball lineup the last two seasons.
It’s not because she does one thing well, according to Cougars head coach Bob Hallberg. Fanter is playing nearly 31 minutes a game because she does everything well.
“The key word to describe Chanel is versatile,” said Hallberg, whose team is ranked No. 4 in this week’s NAIA Division II poll. “She can play several positions. She rebounds, handles the ball, blocks shots and hits her 3-pointers so well. She’s extremely fast and athletic for her size.”
Fanter, a 5-foot-10 sophomore forward, is averaging a career-best 12.7 points this season for the Cougars (14-2). Her 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots a game rank second on the team.
The Crystal Lake South graduate is one of several players who are being counted on for bigger contributions after the team lost NAIA All-American point guard Mikayla Leyden to graduation.
“She was the one player who did everything for us,” Fanter said. “So we have to split up her role between everyone.”
Part of Fanter’s new role is handling the ball more. Reigning NAIA Player of the Year Kara Krolicki, a senior guard, is often the player who leads the breaks, but she draws plenty of attention from defenses. So, Hallberg has encouraged Fanter to lead the offense after getting a rebound.
“I’ve had these opportunities because usually my outlet pass is to Kara,” Fanter said. “Defenses are sticking tighter to her. That’s why he wants me to take it and go.”
The Cougars lead the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 9-0 record and have a league-best 21.9-point margin of victory.
While finishing as the national runner-up last season, SXU beat opponents by an average of 27.7 points a game.
“Every year, your team has a different identity,” Fanter said. “We’re not going to blow teams out by 40 every game. We have to learn how to play from behind and play with not as big of a lead.”
To get his team used to tighter games, Hallberg will keep score during practice to get the team more comfortable with game situations.
No matter the margin in SXU’s games, Fanter will certainly be on the floor. She has started 56 of the team’s past 57 games and is one of three players averaging more than 30 minutes a game.
“How often does someone come in as a freshman and start for a team that’s in the national championship game?” Hallberg asked. “She hasn’t missed a beat this season. She’s a much better player this year, and she was a great player last year.”
LaCrosse leaders: Two local wrestlers have helped Wisconsin-LaCrosse to a strong start to the wrestling season.
Freshmen Josh Stenger (Huntley) and Josh Fiegel (Harvard) have combined for 17 wins for the Eagles (7-3), who are ranked 12th this week in the NCAA Division III National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
Stenger is 7-0 at 125 pounds, while Fiegel is 10-3 at 133 pounds. Fiegel has four pins this season.
Top shot at Illinois: Huntley grad Ali Andrews ranks fourth in the Big Ten Conference in 3-point shooting percentage (.424) this season for the University of Illinois women’s basketball team.
Andrews, a sophomore forward, has a team-high 28 3-pointers for the Illini (9-10). While starting every game, she is second on the team in blocked shots (17).
Benedictine contributor: Senior forward Zach Gorney is averaging career highs in points (6.4) and rebounds (2.9) this season for D-III Benedictine University’s men’s basketball team.
The Eagles (8-6) are in second place in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference standings with a 7-2 record.
Gorney, a Huntley grad, has started every game this season and scored in double digits six times, including a pair of 14-point games. He had 13 points and a season-best eight rebounds last week in the team’s 84-77 loss to Milwaukee School of Engineering.
Auburn ace: Junior goalkeeper Sarah LeBeau (Prairie Ridge) earned second-team All-Southeast Region honors this fall from the United Soccer Coaches.
LeBeau, who played every minute of every match this season, had a career-best eight shutouts this season and now ranks fourth in school history in that category with 21.
She ranks third in career goals-against average (1.07) and fifth in total saves (223).
Auburn (8-7-5) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the fourth consecutive season.
• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.