IHSA girls basketball state finals 2023: Predicting the Illinois state champions
The IHSA girls basketball state finals return Thursday through Saturday at Redbird Arena in Normal.
Eleven of the 16 state finalists ended the season ranked statewide in their class, so it should be a competitive weekend of games.
Below is what you need to know about each semifinal, top players, history — plus predictions from Gannett sports reporters across Illinois.
Looking for local playoff scores? Peoria | Springfield Want to watch on TV? Channel and stream info here
Okawville vs. Galena, 10 a.m. Thursday
No. 2 Okawville (32-4)
- Who to know: 5-8 jr. G Alayna Kraus (19.1 ppg), 5-6 sr. G Briley Rhodes (12.9 ppg) and 5-9 sr. F Megan Rennegarbe (7.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and first-year coach Haylee Bowers.
- What to know: Eighth state finals appearance and first since 2006, all under previous coach Kathy Lanters. ... Has won 10 games in a row ... Four losses are twice to Class 4A No. 3 Alton, Class 2A No. 1 Quincy Notre Dame and Missouri Class 4 No. 1 St. Louis Vashon.
No. 1 Galena (34-1)
- Who to know: 5-10 so. Gracie Furlong (17.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg), 5-9 jr. Addie Hefel (16.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg), 5-6 jr. Taylor Burcham (10.9 ppg) and 12th-year coach Jamie Watson.
- What to know: Has won 13 in a row since the only loss, Jan. 16 to Class 2A finalist Byron. ... Galena is in the upper northwest corner of Illinois and borders Iowa and Wisconsin; they played seven games against teams from those states ... Program's second trip to state after runner-up finish last season.
Christopher vs. Champaign St. Thomas More, 11:45 a.m. Thursday
- Who to know: 6-2 jr. Amiah Hargrove (25.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg), 5-3 sr. Jessica Gordon (8.2 ppg, 3.9 apg) and first-year coach Hayden Carter.
- What to know: This is the school's first trip to the IHSA state finals in any team sport. ... Hargrove has offers from Illinois, among others ... Program is 66-8 in the three years with Hargrove. ... Team went 2-2 ahead of the postseason.
St. Thomas More (28-6)
- Who to know: 5-11 sr. Maddy Swisher (14.1 ppg), 5-8 jr. Ruari Quarnstrom (13.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg), 5-7 sr. Emma Devocelle (10.5 ppg, 5.6 apg) and second-year coach Erin Quarnstrom.
- What to know: Third trip to state to go with back-to-back appearances in 2013 and 14, the second ending with a title ... Didn't win more than two in a row until Christmas
THIRD: 7 p.m. Thursday | TITLE: 11 a.m. Saturday
- Adam Duvall's title pick: Galena 43, Christopher 29
- Wes Huett's title pick: Okawville 55, Christopher 49
- Matt Trowbridge’s title pick: Okawville 61, St. Thomas More 47
- Jay Taft's title pick: Galena 56, Christopher 40
- Bill Welt's title pick: Galena 38, St. Thomas More 34
- Ryan Mahan's title pick: St. Thomas More 60, Okawville 43
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Byron vs. Chicago Noble Street/Butler, 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 Byron (33-2)
- Who to know: 5-10 sr. Ava Kultgen (16.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg), 5-8 fr. Macy Groharing (14.2 ppg), 5-10 sr. Ella Grundstrom (6.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and 12th-year coach Eric Yerly.
- What to know: First finals appearance since winning consecutive state championships under Yerley in 2016 and '17. ... Has won 21 games in a row. ... Only losses to Class 3A No. 2 Lincoln and Bloomington Central Catholic.
No. 4 Noble/Butler (30-6)
- Who to know: 5-7 jr. Xamiya Walton (23.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg), 5-11 fr. Xyanna Walton (15. 3 ppg, 10.0 rpg) and their father, sixth-year coach Xaver Walton, plus 6-3 jr. Sereniti Adams (11.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg).
- What to know: Three losses came to ranked teams Class 4A No. 5 Chicago Kenwood, 4A No. 9 Chicago Whitney Young and 2A No. 1 Quincy Notre Dame and 3A sectional champ Chicago Heights Marian. ... Has won 10 in a row. ... Program's first state finals appearance after a supersectional loss last season.
Quincy Notre Dame vs. Breese Mater Dei, 4:15 p.m.
No. 1 QND (34-1)
- Who to know: 6-0 sr. Abbey Schreacke (21.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg), 5-9 sr. Blair Eftink (13.6 ppg), 5-7 fr. Ari Buehler (4.3 ppg, 4.4 apg) and 21st-year coach Eric Orne.
- What to know: Defending 2A state champions' only loss was to Columbia (Mo.) Rock Bridge, ranked No. 9 in Missouri's largest class. ... Schreacke is a Missouri commit. ... QND has won 28 straight since. ... QND's 12th trip to state; it has six state titles, second all-time behind Chicago Marshall (10). ... Orne has won 518 games at QND.
Mater Dei (25-7)
- Who to know: 6-5 so. Alyssa Koerkenmeier (7.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg), 5-4 jr. Avery Trame (8.4 ppg), 6-0 so. Maris Zurliene (7.4 ppg) and second-year coach Craig Zurliene.
- What to know: Unranked, but well-tested with six losses to state-ranked teams: twice to 4A No. 3 Alton, 4A No. 6 O'Fallon, 2A No. 1 Quincy Notre Dame and twice to 1A No. 2 Okawville. … Went 4-4 in final eight games before the postseason. … Program's second state finals appearance and first since 1991.
THIRD: 8:15 p.m. Thursday | TITLE: 12:45 p.m. Saturday
- Adam Duvall's title pick: QND 56, Noble/Butler 48
- Wes Huett's title pick: QND 59, Byron 52
- Matt Trowbridge’s title pick: Noble/Butler 48, QND 44
- Jay Taft's title pick: Byron 62, QND 61
- Bill Welt's title pick: QND 45, Noble/Butler 35
- Ryan Mahan's title pick: QND 85, Byron 30
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Peoria High vs. LaGrange Park Nazareth, 10 a.m. Friday
No. 3 Peoria High (28-3)
- Who to know: 5-10 jr. Aaliyah Guyton (21.5 ppg), 6-1 sr. Denali Craig-Edwards (16.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg), Allannah Jackson (5.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Danielle Ruffin (8.3 ppg) and 16th-year coach Meechie Edwards.
- What to know: Three losses are to 4A No. 6 O'Fallon, 4A No. 2 Lincoln and 3A No. 4 Peoria Notre Dame. ... Guyton, daughter of former NBA player A.J. Guyton, is one of the most sought-after guards in the Class of 2024, with a dozen or more Division I offers. ... First trip to state since back-to-back quarterfinal losses in 2000 and '01.
No. 1 Nazareth (33-1)
- Who to know: 5-11 sr. Grace Carstensen (12.1 ppg), 5-8 jr. Amalia Dray (11.3 ppg), 6-0 jr. Olivia Austin (8.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg), 6-0 jr. Danielle Scully (7.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) and seventh-year coach Eddie Stritzel.
- What to know: Only loss is to Green Bay (Wisc.) Notre Dame on Dec. 3 ... They have won 28 in a row since, best in the finals field. ... Fourth finals appearance since 2018. ... Nazareth's four state finals teams are a combined 129-11.
Lincoln vs. Deerfield, 11:45 a.m. Friday
No. 2 Lincoln (35-0)
- Who to know: 5-9 jr. Kloe Frobe (28.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg), 5-6 jr. Jenna Bowman (10.6 ppg), 5-7 jr. Becca Heitzig (10.2 ppg) and 11th-year coach Taylor Rohrer.
- What to know: The all-junior lineup is the only unbeaten team in the field. … Froebe is one of the state's top players in the Class of 2024 ... It's the program's third state finals trip after 1999 and 1978.
No. 10 Deerfield (29-5)
- Who to know: Nikki Kerstein (14.4 ppg), Lexi Kerstein (14.2 ppg), Aubrey Galvan (11.9 ppg), Olivia Kerndt (10.9 ppg) and second-year coach Nicole Keith.
- What to know: Four of their losses came to ranked teams: 4A No. 4 Geneva, 4A No. 8 Libertyville, 3A No. 1 LaGrange Park Nazareth and 3A No. 5 Lombard Montini. ... Defeated No. 6 Mundelein Carmel in the sectional final and No. 5 Montini in the super. ... First state finals appearance in school history.
THIRD: 7 p.m. Friday | TITLE: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
- Adam Duvall's title pick: Peoria High 47, Lincoln 44
- Wes Huett's title pick: Peoria High 39, Lincoln 37
- Matt Trowbridge’s title pick: Lincoln 60, LaGrange Nazareth 54
- Jay Taft's title pick: Nazareth 52, Deerfield 48
- Bill Welt's title pick: Nazareth 40, Lincoln 35
- Ryan Mahan's title pick: Lincoln 74, Nazareth 72 (3OT)
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Arlington Heights Hersey vs. O'Fallon, 2:30 p.m. Friday
- Who to know: 6-0 sr. Katy Eidle (19.4 ppg), 5-11 sr. Meghan Mrowicki (11.9 ppg), 5-10 sr. Natalie Alesia (10.4 ppg), 6-3 jr. Annika Manthy (9.4 ppg, 6.0 RPG) and 25th-year coach Mary Fendley.
- What to know: Hersey upset No. 1 Palatine Fremd in the sectional championship game. ... This is Hersey's second state finals trip after a fourth-place in 2010. ... Fendley has won 537 games at Hersey, top-20 all-time for most at one school. ... Hersey went 3-3 in its last six before the playoffs.
No. 6 O'Fallon (32-4)
- Who to know: 5-10 sr. Shannon Dowell (21.3 ppg, 5.8 rpg), 6-1 jr. D'Myjah Bolds (8.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Jailah Pelly (9.1 ppg) and sixth-year coach Nick Knolhoff.
- What to know: Defeated 4A No. 3 Alton in the sectional semifinal after losing twice to it in the regular season. ... Illinois State commit Dowell will be playing on her future home court. ... O'Fallon has won 25 or more the last five full seasons. ... Program's first state finals appearance.
Geneva vs. Lisle Benet, 4:15 p.m. Friday
No. 4 Geneva (30-3)
- Who to know: 5-11 jr. Leah Palmer (14.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg), 6-1 sr. Lauren Slagle (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), 6-0 sr. Cassidy Arni (12.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and 12th-year coach Sarah Meadows.
- What to know: Losses were to 4A No. 1 Palatine Fremd, 3A No. 5 Lombard Montini and Barrington, the latter avenged in the supersectional. ... Has won 14 in a row. ... Fifth trip to state and first since back-to-back titles in 2017 and '18.
- Who to know: 6-0 sr. Lenee Beaumont (18.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 3.3 apg), 6-0 sr. Samantha Trimberger (9.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg), 5-11 jr. Emilia Sularski (9.2 ppg) and ninth-year coach Joe Kilbride.
- What to know: Defeated No. 5 Chicago Kenwood in the supersectional. ... Benet lost three straight around Christmas, including losses to 4A No. 1 Palatine Fremd and 3A No. 1 LaGrange Park Nazareth. ... This is the fifth state finals trip for Benet, winners of the title in 2015 and 16 in Kilbride's first two seasons.
THIRD: 8:15 p.m. Friday | TITLE: 7:15 p.m. Saturday
- Adam Duvall's title pick: O'Fallon 68, Geneva 61
- Wes Huett's title pick: O'Fallon 60, Benet 55
- Matt Trowbridge’s title pick: O’Fallon 62, Benet 50
- Jay Taft's title pick: Benet 68, O’Fallon 49
- Bill Welt's title pick: Benet 42, O’Fallon 41
- Ryan Mahan's title pick: Hersey 62, Benet 55