Peyton Bannon had a plan going into her final high school basketball season: to break every school scoring record.
Bannon, a Wisconsin softball commit, went out and had a breakout last year for Richmond-Burton, scoring a single-season record 663 points and becoming the program's all-time leader scorer with 1,226 career points.
The Rockets senior averaged an area-leading 22.1 points and 3.8 steals a game and was named Kishwaukee River Conference Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
Along the way, Bannon broke the school's single-game scoring record not once, but twice. She had 40 points against Winnebago to break the previous record of 32 points – set by now Johnsburg coach Erin Stochl in 2012.
Bannon nearly broke her own record two weeks later with 38 points against Prairie Ridge. Later in the same month, she scored 43 points against KRC co-champion Marengo, setting a new high mark.
By the end of the season, Bannon had scored 54% of her team's total points.
She also set school records for steals in a season and career.
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out spring sports, Bannon would have had one more season to shine at shortstop for the Rockets, where she earned All-Area first-team honors as both a sophomore and junior.
During her junior year, she was named KRC Softball Player of the Year and second in the area with a .541 batting average.
The Northwest Herald sports staff voted Bannon as Female Athlete of the Year with 12 points. Huntley senior Taylor Jakubowski was runner-up with 11 points and Dundee-Crown junior Alyssa Crenshaw was third with seven points.
The Athlete of the Year winners earn $2,500 for their school from Dr. Steven Rochell, a Crystal Lake orthopedic surgeon. The Rochell Foundation began donating for the Male and Female Athlete of the Year winners in 1993, bringing the total donations after this year to $140,500.
This year, 2013 Male Athlete of the Year winner Tyler Crater, a Hampshire graduate, thanked Rochell by donating $500 to the winners, which Rochell matched, making the donation to each school $3,000 for this year.
Bannon took a break this summer to answer a few questions about her dream vacation, her proudest sports moments, missing her last season in softball, what she's looking forward to the most at Wisconsin and more.
What’s a sport that you didn’t play would you be good at?
Bannon: Volleyball. I played in middle school, and the only reason that I stopped was because of softball. I was getting recruited early in high school, and I wanted to focus more on that.
What is the last good movie you saw in a theater?
Bannon: "Avengers: Endgame."
What is your favorite food?
Bannon: Shrimp tacos, but they have to be from California. Or sushi. I like sushi a lot, too.
What’s your favorite wild animal?
Bannon: A leopard or cheetah.
What is a moment or game you will remember from you senior year?
Bannon: For basketball, probably the game I scored 40 against Winnebago to break the (single-game school scoring) record the first time. I was going for the record all season. I would also say our away game versus Marengo where I scored 43. Marengo was really good this year and we almost came back and beat them.
What is your favorite professional sport team?
Bannon: Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bears.
Who is your favorite professional athlete?
Bannon: Mike Trout.
Who is the best athlete in your family?
Bannon: Both of my brothers are good athletes, but by brother Brandon still plays (baseball) in college, so probably him.
Who is your biggest hero?
Bannon: My dad.
What’s your proudest sports moment?
Bannon: I would just say basketball my senior season, breaking all of those records. I went into the season with the mindset of doing that.
What would be your ideal vacation?
Bannon: California. I’ve been there a lot for travel softball, but I think going there and just vacationing, relaxing, going to the beach and visiting new places would be really cool.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Bannon: Play every game like it's your last.
What scares you?
Bannon: Failing at a sport or letting my team down.
What is your favorite class in high school?
Bannon: My foods class. That was a fun class. I took foods three years of high school.
What is your most prized possession?
Bannon: To be honest, my softball glove.
What will you remember most about your time at Richmond-Burton?
Bannon: Being on varsity three of four years of basketball and all four years of softball, and just getting to spend the time with my team, and competing and winning regionals and stuff like that.
What was the hardest part about missing out on your senior season of softball?
Bannon: It was just so unexpected. I didn’t get to have that last season with my friends. I think this would have been our best season yet, to be honest. We had a lot of good incoming freshmen, too.
What are you looking forward to most at Wisconsin?
Bannon: I’m just excited about going there and playing at the next level, getting to know the team more, and I’m excited about the new atmosphere that I’ll be in. And I think next year we’re going to be really good. I’m excited to see how it goes.
Northwest Herald Female Athlete of the Year Winners
2020: Peyton Bannon, Richmond-Burton, sr.
2019: Hannah Ritter, Marengo, sr.
2018: Valerie Tarazi, Prairie Ridge. sr.
2017: Annika Sevcik, Crystal Lake South, sr.
2016: Ali Andrews, Huntley, sr.
2015: Lauren Van Vlierbergen, Jacobs
2014: Evelyn Youel, Crystal Lake Central
2013: Jenny Dumoulin, Hampshire
2012: Paige Lincicum, Cary-Grove
2011: Kayla Beattie, Woodstock
2010: Cassie Dumoulin, Hampshire
2009: Taryn Stricker, Harvard
2008: Michelle McDonald, Johnsburg
2007: Paige Fiedorowicz, Johnsburg
2006: Jen Nichols, Woodstock
2005: Amanda Walker, Hampshire
2004: Sammi Mader, Huntley
2003: Jory Bodi, Richmond-Burton
2002: Amy Kaplan, Cary-Grove
2001: Nicole Marzano, McHenry
2000: Katie Hartmann, Woodstock
1999: Kristan Knake, Marengo
1998: Billee Russell, Dundee-Crown
1997: Sara Ettner, Marengo
1996: Alice Melhuish, Crystal Lake South
1995: Leigh Hadick, Marian Central
1994: Natalie Gambit, Richmond-Burton
1993: Megan DePuy, Cary-Grove
1992: Amy Reinhard, Woodstock and Traci Tisch, Crystal Lake South
1991: Pam Scherschel, Cary-Grove
1990: Laura Demke, Cary-Grove
1989: Tracy Leyden, Harvard
1988: Jenni Stark, Crystal Lake South
1987: Mary Jo Firnbach, Woodstock