High school girls basketball: Hard work pays off for Marian Central's Allen

McHENRY – Marian Central’s Janelle Allen is keeping busy this summer. In addition to working out with the Hurricanes. Allen has attended camps at Indiana, Marquette and DePaul.

“It’s very busy and competitive, but you’ve got to keep going,” said Allen, who flies to Arizona on Saturday for another camp.

Allen and the Hurricanes are one of a number of local teams participating in this weekend’s McHenry Lady Warrior Summer Shootout, which began Friday and continues Saturday.

Allen, a rising junior at Marian, received her second scholarship offer this spring from Bradley. Her other offer, from Illinois State, came when she was a freshman.

“The Bradley one just boosted my confidence,” Allen said. “Hopefully I keep getting more. There’s always room for improvement of course. I’m trying to keep getting better, keep improving, keep training every day.”

The 6-foot-2 Allen was a force inside for the Hurricanes last year. Marian will move on without graduated point guard Vannessa Garrelts, who will play at Division I Miami (Ohio) next season.

Summer hoops: Seven local teams are competing in the 16-team tournament at McHenry. Crystal Lake Central coach Derek Crabill likes that it gives his team a chance to check in with how it’s progressing compared to other teams around McHenry County.

“We get a few extra games and compete a little bit, it’s close to home,” Crabill said. “It’s two days where the girls get to hang out a little bit more outside of camp.”

Crabill thinks the Tigers, who reached a Class 4A regional championship game in February, have improved program-wide. In particular, rising seniors Cori Hamill and Maddie Haslow have made strides on the court.

“Maddie’s really attacking the basket strong and looking to move without the basketball,” Crabill said. “Cori’s really worked hard on her shot, it’s getting more and more consistent.”

Wolves’ new leader: After he was hired as the Prairie Ridge girls basketball coach, Tim Taege spent a lot of time thinking about what he wanted his program to look like.

“It was good to finally get in the gym,” Taege said. “I just couldn’t wait to get in the gym and start working with the girls.”

The Wolves have quickly adjusted to their new coach this summer.

“It’s definitely been a big change,” senior Karly Statter said. “We didn’t really know what to expect coming into it. We’re all on the same page, we all want to grow a lot this year, get better.”

Taege praised the leadership of Prairie Ridge’s three returning seniors: Statter, Maddy Ljunggren and Nicole Dorn.

Ljunggren said changing the culture has been a big emphasis. At the same time, most of the players on the team were familiar with Taege because he has been a teacher at Prairie Ridge.

Taege likes what he has seen so far. At this point of the year, it’s not really about wins and losses.

“We want to grow and that’s what we talk about afterward: Stay hungry, but not for win,” Taege said. “It’s for growth. How can we be better than we were the day before?”

A work in progress: Five freshmen and three sophomores received significant playing time last year for Huntley in their first varsity seasons, and coach Steve Raethz is hopeful those minutes will be beneficial for his young team going into Year 2.

“It was a great learning experience last year, and I think it’s paid dividends this summer, but it’s still a big learning curve for us,” said Raethz, who will enter his 20th season at Huntley.

Raethz said last year’s top scorers – sophomores Kamsi Nwogu and Raquel Radermacher – have shown great progress already, as has junior forward Sydney Novak. 

“Kamsi has really improved her shooting and range, and Raquel just continues to get better,” Raethz said. “Syd has given us phenomenal effort on the defensive end. I really like her enthusiasm and how she plays."

– Alex Kantecki contributed to this report.

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