IHSA girls basketball state finals 2022: Predicting the Illinois state champions

Wes Huett
Journal Star
Winnebago's Miyah Brown looks at the hoop during a game against Byron on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Byron. The two teams met up for the sectional title on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

The Illinois High School Association basketball state finals are back. 

After a one-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IHSA girls basketball state finals return Thursday through Saturday at Redbird Arena in Normal.

Thirteen of the 16 state finalists ended the season ranked statewide in their class, so it should be a competitive weekend of games. Below is information about each semifinal, plus predictions from sports reporters from Gannett Illinois newspapers in Rockford, Peoria and Springfield.

Looking for local scores? Peoria | Springfield | Rockford 

Want to watch on TV?Channel and stream information

Class 1A

Brimfield vs. Neoga, 10 a.m. Thursday

Top-ranked Brimfield (30-4) of the Inter County Athletic Conference beat No. 2 Okawville to earn the program its first trip to state since a fourth-place finish in 2009. Coach Maribeth Dura's team is led by senior Ella Lune (19.8 ppg) and sophomore Elynn Peterson (11.9). Brimfield has been tested; its four losses are to 2A state finalist Winnebago, 3A finalist Morton and state-ranked 3A programs Geneseo and Peoria Notre Dame.

Unranked Neoga (28-7) of the National Trail Conference is a state newcomer under 10th-year coach Kim Romack. Neoga is led by junior Sydney Richards (14.6 ppg), who scored 21 to rally her team from 14 points down in the second half to win its supersectional over Goreville.

Serena vs. Galena, 11:45 a.m. Thursday

No. 6-ranked Serena (33-2) takes on No. 4 Galena (31-3) in a matchup of state newcomers. Fourth-year coach Jim Jobst and Katie Baker (17.2 ppg) lead Serena of the Little Ten Conference. The Huskers bring a 29-win streak into the state finals, their only losses to 3A Ottawa and 2A state finalist Fieldcrest. 

Galena and 12th-year coach Jamie Watson have won 15 in a row heading into state behind a balanced attack. The Furlong sisters, Gracie (12.9 ppg) and Maggie (7.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg), lead the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference program.

THIRD: 7 p.m. Thursday | TITLE: 11 a.m. Saturday

Adam Duvall's title pick: Brimfield 63, Galena 51

Dave Eminian's title pick: Brimfield 65, Galena 48

Bill Welt's title pick: Brimfield 60, Serena 50 

Ryan Mahan's title pick: Brimfield 58, Serena 31

Jay Taft's title pick: Serena 64, Brimfield 60

Matt Trowbridge's title pick: Brimfield 42, Galena 38

Illinois state rankings:Check out the final Illinois girls basketball polls

The Pana girls basketball team captured its first state appearance with a 64-56 win over Carterville in the Class 2A Vandalia Supersectional on Monday.

Class 2A

Pana vs. Quincy Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. Thursday

No. 2-ranked Pana (35-1) is back at state after an appearance in 1996 and a runner-up finish in 2003. Pana's second-year coach is Brent McKinney, who led Olney East Richland to fourth place statewide in 2009. Jillian Hamilton (18.0 ppg) leads the Panthers of the South Central Conference, who have won 31 in a row — their only loss to 3A sectional finalist Lincoln. 

No. 3-ranked Quincy Notre Dame (29-3) is one of the most accomplished programs in IHSA history, with five state titles in 11 previous finals appearances. Coach Eric Orne, in his 20th season, led QND to three consecutive titles from 2011-13. The Raiders of the West Central Conference are led by Division I prospect Abbey Schreacke (25.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Blair Eftink (14.5 ppg).

Winnebago vs. Minonk Fieldcrest, 4:15 p.m. Thursday

No. 1-ranked Winnebago (34-2) is at state for the first time since 1992, but favored to win it all behind 33rd-year coach Judy Krause and all-stater Miyah Brown (16.7 ppg, 10.1 rpg). The Big Northern Conference team won 21 in a row to start the season — and won 12 in a row since losing to two 3A teams in a six-day stretch of November. 

No. 6-ranked Fieldcrest (34-2) is another state newcomer under seventh-year coach Mitch Neally. The Knights of the Heart of Illinois Conference are balanced, with five players averaging around double figures: Ashlyn May (12.6 ppg), Kaitlin White (11.6), Haley Carver (10.1), Ella Goodrich (9.4) and Carolyn Megow (8.5).

THIRD: 8:45 p.m. Thursday | TITLE: 1 p.m. Saturday

Adam Duvall's title pick: Winnebago 43, Pana 40

Dave Eminian's title pick: Winnebago 39, Pana 37

Bill Welt's title pick: Winnebago 52, Pana 45 

Ryan Mahan's title pick: Winnebago 45, QND 35

Jay Taft's title pick: Winnebago 67, Pana 52

Matt Trowbridge's title pick: Winnebago 50, QND 42

Potters pride:Morton girls basketball finds its way back to another Class 3A state finals

Class 3A

Bethalto Civic Memorial vs. Mundelein Carmel, 10 a.m. Friday

Yet another matchup of state finals newcomers. Civic Memorial (32-4) is led by second-year coach Mike Arbuthnot, who had previous stops at Roxana, Highland and Troy Triad. The Eagles of the Mississippi Valley Conference are led by Olivia Durbin (14.7 ppg) and Meredith Brueckner (9.6 ppg). They have won 17 of their last 18 games, with the lone loss to 2A finalist Quincy Notre Dame.

Carmel (26-7) makes its first state appearance under seventh-year coach Ben Berg, whose teams had not won more than 19 games before this season. Jordan Wood (14.6 ppg) and Grace Jordan (14.5 ppg) lead the East Suburban Catholic program, which is battle tested; four of its losses came to other state finals teams.

Morton vs. LaGrange Park Nazareth, 11:45 a.m. Friday

This is a rematch of a 2019 semifinal won by Morton. No. 7-ranked Morton (28-5) is back in the state finals for the eighth time overall and the sixth time since 2015 — all under 23rd-year coach Bob Becker. The Potters of the Mid-Illini Conference have four state championships and a runner-up finish in that recent stretch. Harvard-bound senior Katie Krupa (17.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Tatym Lamprecht (11.2 ppg) lead Morton, which survived a sectional complex with four state-ranked teams.

No. 1-ranked LaGrange Park Nazareth (32-2) is back at state for the third time since 2018 under sixth-year Nazareth coach Eddie Stritzel, who previously coached nine seasons at River Forest Trinity. The Roadrunners of the East Suburban Catholic Conference are balanced, with four players around double-figure scoring: Amalia Dray (11.1 ppg), Gracis Carstensen (10.5), Danielle Scully (9.6) and Olivia Austin (8.7). Its only loss since Thanksgiving came against 4A finalist Lisle Benet.

THIRD: 7 p.m. Friday | TITLE: 5:30 p.m. Saturday

Adam Duvall's title pick: Morton 47, Carmel 44

Dave Eminian's title pick: Nazareth 51, Civic Memorial 49 

Bill Welt's title pick: Nazareth 60, Carmel 56

Ryan Mahan's title pick: Civic Memorial 48, Morton 45

Jay Taft's title pick: Nazareth 54, Carmel 51

Matt Trowbridge's title pick: Carmel 56, Nazareth 55

Morton's Katie Krupa leads the celebration after the Potters defeated Marian Catholic 49-40 in the Class 3A Streator Supersectional on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022 at Streator High School.

Class 4A

Lincolnshire Stevenson vs. Lisle Benet, 2:30 p.m. Friday

This is a matchup of the state's top two ranked teams. No. 1 Stevenson (33-2), in its first state finals since 2001, lost only to 3A finalist LaGrange Park Nazareth and Wilmette Loyola — a loss it avenged in the supersectional. The balanced Patriots of the North Suburban Conference are led by 10th-year coach Ashley Graham and players Simone Sawyer (14.5 ppg), Emory Klatt (12.9 ppg, 11.2 rpg) and Ava Bardic (12.9 ppg).

No. 2 Benet (30-3) is in its fourth state finals since 2015, a stretch that includes two state titles under eighth-year coach Joe Kilbride. The Redwings of the East Suburban Catholic have won 17 of their last 18 — the only loss to 3A finalist Mundelein Carmel. Team leaders are Lenee Beaumont (15.0 ppg) and Morgan Demos (12.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg).

Bolingbrook vs. Barrington, 4:15 p.m. Friday

No. 9 Bolingbrook (24-5) is a four-time state champ back at the finals for the ninth time since 2005 and second time under ninth-year coach Chris Smith. The Raiders of the Southwest Suburban Conference lost only one game to teams from Illinois. They're balanced offensively, led by four players around double figures: Kennedi Perkins (13.9 ppg), Angelina Smith (12.6), Tatiana Thomas (10.6, 7.3 rpg) and Tahl-Monet Bloom (9.7).

No. 5 Barrington (29-5) is making its first state finals appearance under 30-year coach Babbi Barreiro. The Fillies of the Mid-Suburban League have won 18 in a row and 24 of 26 — their only losses in that stretch to No. 1-ranked 4A finalist Stevenson. Purdue commit Sophie Swanson (21.2 ppg) leads Stevenson, followed by Molly O'Riordan (11.0) and Gewn Adler (8.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg).

THIRD: 8:45 p.m. Friday | TITLE: 7:15 p.m. Saturday

Adam Duvall's title pick: Bolingbrook 58, Stevenson 55

Dave Eminian's title pick: Stevenson 63, Bolingbrook 60

Bill Welt's title pick: Stevenson 62, Barrington 55 

Ryan Mahan's title pick: Stevenson 43, Bolingbrook 39

Jay Taft's title pick: Stevenson 55, Barrington 48

Matt Trowbridge's title pick: Benet 49, Bolingbrook 45