Who's No. 1? The top 12 Illinois high school girls basketball teams in the Peoria area

Adam Duvall
Journal Star

A march to the madness has begun.

And there's no better time than now to look at some of the Peoria-area's best high school girls basketball teams.

We took a look at top players. Now, here are the power rankings for 2021-22 girls hoops season regardless of class. Last season's records are in parentheses. 

1. Peoria High (11-1)

The reigning Big 12 Conference regular-season champs return two of the area’s best players in junior Denali Craig-Edwards and sophomore Aaliyah Guyton. Look for coach Meechie Edwards to have the Lions, who were ranked No. 3 in the final Class 3A poll, once again playing the best teams around including a visit to the Palatine Fremd Shootout on Dec. 4. Peoria High also plays successive game against Richwoods and Morton in mid-January.

Peoria High coach Meechie Edwards coaches a set play in the huddle during a girls basketball holiday tournament game.

2. Morton (14-3)

Adding all-area guard Tatym Lamprecht, who comes from East Peoria, was the offseason’s biggest news for Morton and coach Bob Becker. She’ll team with Harvard commit Katie Krupa and Maggie Hobson. The Potters, who received votes in the final poll, are the reigning champs of the inaugural (and probably only) Mid-Illini Conference tournament following three regular-season league losses.

The ball bounces off Metamora’s Alana Terry, left, and Dunlap’s Gabby DiGiallonardo (25) into the arms of Dunlap’s Sophia Remmel in the first half Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 at Dunlap High School.

3. Dunlap (13-3)

Coach Heather Cassady helped the Eagles make program history last season, winning their first-ever Mid-Illini Conference regular-season title. Plenty of talent — led by all-area guards Sophia Remmel and Lily Sutter — is back in the fold for Dunlap, which finished the season at No. 8 in 3A. Fans should circle the Dec. 7 visit to Morton as a game to watch.

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4. Washington (11-6)

McKendree commit Georgia Duncan and new Bradley verbal commit Claire McDougall helped guide 3A Washington to a Mid-Illini Conference tournament runner-up finish. Coach Kim Barth has three seniors, six juniors and two sophomores on her roster. Once again, the Panthers don’t do themselves any scheduling favors with Eureka, Normal Community, Normal U-High and Richwoods on the slate.

A Brimfield player battles with an Illini Bluffs player during a game last season.

5. Brimfield (16-0)

Brimfield as a Class 1A school cracks the top five. Reigning player of the year Haley Wallace may have graduated, but coach Maribeth Dura has Eastern Illinois commit Ella Lune and Lincoln Land signee Elynn Peterson. The Indians, which was No. 2 in the final 1A poll, play a loaded schedule in December with road games with Morton, Eureka and Dunlap in a 10-day span.

6. Peoria Notre Dame (13-3)

All-area guard Mya Wardle holds a trio of Division I offers returns with all-Big 12 players Liz Daly and Molly Rickey for coach Layne Langholf. Peoria Christian transfer Delaney Cook, a Western New Mexico commit, becomes eligible this season and could have an immediate impact. PND has also beefed up its nonconference schedule, visiting Metamora, Morton and LaGrange Park Nazareth Academy.

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7. Eureka (13-0)

Eureka girls basketball coach Jerry Prina talks with his team during a 2019 game. The 2020 Hornets went unbeaten this season and finished No. 2 statewide in Class 2A.

The Hornets, who finished ranked No. 2 in Class 2A, return a strong core in all-area junior players Ellie Cahill and Ella Ausmus along with senior Ashley Nohl. Look for Eureka once again contend for the Heart of Illinois Conference, looking for a sixth title in a row. Coach Jerry Prina has a brutal December stretch with games against Tremont, Washington and Brimfield.

8. Metamora (13-4)

A new era of Redbirds basketball begins with coach Kyle Weyeneth taking over the helm of the program. All-area player Kayla Pacha is fresh off a 3A Elite Eight volleyball appearance and will team with versatile guard Katy Ramage and rising star Brooklyn Marshall. Metamora gets an early-season test with four home games in a row against PND, Limestone, Dunlap and Morton.

Coach Todd Hursey celebrates with player Kourtney Crane after Richwoods won the 2018 Class 3A IHSA girls basketball state finals in Normal.

9. Richwoods (3-5)

Despite only playing eight games last season, the Knights, who went 19 days at one point between games, should be back to its usual powerhouse self under coach Todd Hursey. Look for all-Big 12 players Jada Davis, an Iowa Wesleyan commit, and Kamryn Heider to carry Richwoods. Three tournaments — Morton, Sterling and the State Farm Classic in Bloomington/Normal — are all on the Knights’ 2021 portion of the schedule.

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10. Tremont (12-1)

The Turks come into the season off a HOI runner-up finish with all-area player Whitney Rumbold and Grace Smalley back in the mix. Coach Justin Wahls’ team suffered one loss all season, a nine-point defeat to HOI champ Eureka. Tremont, which ended the season ranked No. 7 in 2A, get an early-season test with a visit from Princeville and will also host Midwest Central/Delavan.

11. Fieldcrest (11-2)

Coach Mitch Neally has an optimistic outlook after suffering single-digit losses to Eureka and Tremont last season. Back this season is all-area player Ashlyn May, Haley Carver and Ella Goodrich. The Knights have a tough span of road games in January, playing at Eureka, El Paso-Gridley, Fisher and Tremont along with the HOI tournament all in three weeks.

12. Princeville (10-2)

Reigning Lincoln Trail Conference champions once again are back with a loaded roster. All-area player and double-double machine Caitlyn Thole returns along with all-league players Destinee Harwood and Brenna Schupbach. Coach John Gross welcomes all competition with Brimfield, Tremont, Lewistown, Illini Bluffs and Midwest Central/Delavan all on the schedule.

Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at aduvall@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.