Kroner: State girls' basketball POY is a real Jewell

Kroner: State girls' basketball POY is a real Jewell

SKOKIE — Under the influence of truth serum, all sports fans probably have the same desire.

We all want our athletic icons to be exemplary role models whose attitude, conduct, morals and values are what we hope our children and grandchildren emulate daily.

We want the athlete's good deeds away from the limelight of the sporting arena to surpass their good deeds from the competition. About the time we think our expectations are unreachable and unrealistic, along comes a real gem.

Anthony Konsewicz tried to prepare people who regarded Niles West's Jewell Loyd as simply one of the premier girls' basketball players in the state and country.

"She is," Konsewicz said without hesitation, "twice the person she is a basketball player."

The coach's comment is so intriguing that it requires investigation. Loyd's basketball credentials are virtually unmatched among the nation's female players.

The News-Gazette All-State Player of the Year averaged 26.9 points and 12.0 rebounds as a senior, surpassing the 3,000-point mark for her career. She is the seventh athlete in 36 years of IHSA-sanctioned competition for girls in basketball to achieve that milestone.

She is hardly a newcomer on the national scene. As a high school freshman, she was ranked 38th by Blue Star among the country's ninth-graders.

In 2010, she was rated the 29th-best sophomore. Her ascension continued last year as she reached the No. 17 spot nationally among juniors.

As Loyd's improvement mushroomed, her stock soared. As a senior, she is regarded by Blue Star as the third-best senior in the USA. Does Konsewicz expect gullible folks to believe this young person's deportment and conduct far exceeds her basketball skills?

Yes, he repeated.

He emphasized that his opinion in no way diminishes her talent.

"At this level," Konsewicz said, "she is Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman put together into one player."

No wonder has rated Loyd the No. 1 female prep point guard in all of America.

True assist leader

For proof of the other side of the unassuming Loyd, Niles West's Ann Feldmann — an executive secretary in the social studies department — offers this view of the teenager from an incident that occurred less than two weeks before last Christmas.

"Hobbling down the stairs, to take tests to the Test Center, I was proceeding slowly and with difficulty," Feldmann said. "The orthopedic boot that I wear for an injury is so heavy and can be slippery.

"I was inching along, step-by-step, obviously leery about doing this when someone very gently took hold of my arm and said, 'Need help?' Jewell Loyd, an exceptional person in all areas, helped me all the way down the stairs. She took her time and positioned herself so that if I fell, it wouldn't be far.

"This certainly warmed my heart. She didn't make a big deal about it, but it was a big deal to me. Hope you can mention how lovely her act of kindness was."

Feldmann said she was trying to get accustomed to the boot, which she wore while recovering from broken bones and a torn tendon.

"The boot was something I had never worn, and it went up to my knee," she said. "It was heavy, cumbersome and hard to get used to. The sole had a sort of bump, and if one wasn't careful, one could actually fall backward, as I almost did a few times. I was really leery about the stairs. I thought I'd go flying down the entire flight.

"The stairwell was very crowded and people were passing me on all sides without even realizing that I was in a boot. All of a sudden, an angel seemed to have appeared and took control. Jewell didn't need to be asked for help. She just helped, and she seemed so humble and modest when I thanked her."

The assistance came at a time in Feldmann's life when she needed something good.

"Feeling quite alone with a new injury, after some family tragedies, and trying to cope with the limitations of wearing the boot — it was like hauling around a side of beef — I was just mind and body weary," Feldmann said. "Jewell has no idea of the impact that her act of kindness had on me. Trust me, those few moments with her were magical."

Natural player

Glenbrook South coach Steve Weissenstein played Loyd's Niles West's teams 10 times during her four years at the high school. He said she is as good of a basketball player as she is a person.

"I scouted her more times than I can count and she is, in my mind, the greatest player ever to play in Illinois," Weissenstein said. "Despite the fact that every team knew she was getting the ball, she was able to score 3,000 points."

The coach is not convinced that scoring is her best asset.

"If someone on her team was open, the ball was in her teammate's hands instantaneously," Weissenstein said. "Unfortunately for Jewell, her teammates couldn't handle some of her pinpoint passes. Despite being an incredible scorer, she was unselfish to a fault."

Don't get the coach started about what he saw from Loyd on the defensive end.

"We had to alter our inside game because she did a phenomenal job of coming off her person and blocking shots," he said. "It seemed like she got every rebound when we played them."

Weissenstein, for one, wouldn't need much prompting to send Loyd a thank-you note for graduating and moving on to the next level.

"When the game was on the line, she was nearly impossible to stop, pulling up from anywhere and draining threes, splitting defenders and making clutch free throws," he said. "She was like Roy Hobbs in 'The Natural.' She could do anything she wanted.

"She truly loves the game as every time I was scouting teams in our conference, she was there herself scouting."

An impact student

Hope Kracht saw Loyd play basketball. Like others, she was impressed.

As her guidance counselor at Niles West, Kracht was able to see a revealing look at the person inside the athlete.

That's where she was truly impressed.

"She is a mature thinker," Kracht said, "and the same tenacity you see on the basketball court, you also see in the classroom. She is very committed to doing her best at all times.

"What is charming about her, for being such an amazing young woman in basketball, she is very humble and so sincere in helping others."

Loyd has participated in a names assembly at Niles West, which Kracht said, "helps freshmen look at their life. The idea is we are this diverse school and kids should respect each other and honor whatever their ethnic basis is.

"Jewell is one of the students to stand up and talk how important that is. She stands in front of groups of people and has that genuineness about her. She values the school for accepting people for who they are and encouraging others to do so. That is a beautiful thing and has really impacted a lot of kids in the freshman class."

Kracht believes there is universal admiration for Loyd from any of the adults associated with Niles West.

"She is equally respected and admired by staff, whether they are educators or security-guard folks," Kracht said. "That comes from the exemplary ethics that is the core of who she is.

"Her parents, her brother, her family have nurtured it. It is truly beautiful. She lives those values of respect and integrity in all of her interactions."

Fun in the games

There's not much left for Konsewicz to say. If he were so inclined, he could say "told you so."

Instead, he points out the obvious impact Loyd has had in basketball.

"Jewell is a game-changer on the offensive and the defensive end," he said. "She averaged a double-double each of her last three years. Before Jewell came to Niles West, we were seven- to eight-game winners a year. Over the last four years, we've won 88 games. She makes players around her better."

Loyd, who has lived her whole life in Lincolnwood, literally grew up with basketball.

"One memory I have is of being on my dad's hip when he was coaching," said Loyd, who was elevated to the seventh-grade team while a fifth-grader.

She hopes to be remembered not for the 3,077 career points but for the 88 games Niles West won during her watch.

"It has never been about putting points on the board," Loyd said. "It has always been about winning and what I can do to help my team win. My personal goals were just to have fun and win.

"That's it."

Yes, indeed, that is it.

First Team
Meredith Boardman    Fenwick    6-1    S.    F    Yale recruit top scorer and rebounder on a 22-11 team; also a 70 percent free throw shooter and a 50 percent field goal shooter
Sophie Brunner    Freeport Aquin    6-0    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer and rebounder on 32-4 team that won Class 1A state championship; hit 68 percent of her shots from the field
Jordan Frericks    Quincy Notre Dame    6-2    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top rebounder, No. 2 scorer, No. 2 in assists for 33-1 team that won Class 2A state championship
Linnae Harper    Chicago Young    5-8    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, is ranked eighth nationally among juniors by Blue Star, top scorer on 34-0 Class 4A state championship team
Shannise Heady    Hillcrest    5-11    Sr.    F    Seton Hall recruit is ranked 201st nationally among seniors by Blue Star; top scorer on 28-4 team; 1,607 career points for teams that were 116-16
Emmonnie Henderson    Edwardsville    6-2    Jr.    F    Repeat first-teamer ranked 50th nationally among juniors by Blue Star, top scorer and rebounder on 34-2 team that placed second in Class 4A
Micah Jones    C-H/Beecher City    6-1    Jr.    C    Uncommitted, top scorer, assist leader and rebound leader on 29-4 team that placed second in Class 1A; shot 52 percent from the field.
Sarah Livingston     Morton    6-2    Jr.    F    Uncommitted, top scorer and rebounder on 31-3 team that lost in the Class 3A Elite Eight; needs 319 rebounds to break school career record (1,049)
Jewell Loyd    Niles West    5-10    Sr.    G    Repeat first-teamer and Notre Dame recruit is ranked third nationally by Blue Star, seventh in state history for points (3,077), 12th for rebounds (1,478)
Zahna Medley    Springfield    5-7    Sr.    G    Repeat first-teamer and TCU recruit is ranked 210th nationally among seniors by Blue Star; top scorer, three-point shooter and assist leader for 29-6 team
Megan Podkowa    River Forest Trinity    6-1    Sr.    F    DePaul recruit is ranked 134th nationally among seniors by Blue Star, top scorer and rebounder on 30-2 team; a 78 percent free throw shooter
Becca Smith    South Elgin    5-7    Sr.    G    Loyola recruit, top scorer on a 19-11 team; 72 percent free throw shooter; averaged 5.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game
Janee Thompson    Chicago Young    5-6    Sr.    G    Kentucky recruit is ranked 38th nationally among seniors by Blue Star, top three-point marksman on 34-0 Class 4A state championship team
Morgan Tuck    Bolingbrook    6-2    Sr.    F    Repeat first-teamer and UConn recruit is ranked ninth nationally among seniors by Blue Star; led her 26-2 team to super-sectionals
Haley Videckis    Bartlett    6-0    Sr.    F    Indiana recruit, top scorer and rebounder on 32-2 team that placed third in Class 4A; third on school’s career scoring list (1,350)

Second Team
Jamie Blue    Urbana Uni High    5-9    Sr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer (19.9 average) for a 25-5 team that set a school record for wins; school’s No. 2 career scorer (1,743)
Tyra Buss    Mount Carmel    5-6    So.    G    Uncommitted, followed up on 1,025 points as a freshman by scoring 1,121 (third best in state history) as a sophomore for a 26-6 team
Justice Collins    Springfield SE    5-7    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer (22.1 average) on a 21-7 team; had 131 rebounds, 108 assists and 28 three-pointers
Bria Gaines    Chicago Bloom    6-3    Jr.    C    Uncommitted, averaged 27.2 points, 16.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks for a 16-9 team. Had a double-double in each of the team’s games
Kassidy Gengenbacher    Quincy Notre Dame    5-10    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer (16.4 average) on 33-1 team which won Class 2A state championship; a 70 percent shooter from the free throw line
Joymesia Howard    East St. Louis    6-1    Sr.    F    Uncommitted, top scorer (15.5 average) and rebounder (8.7) on a 19-9 team; also a state medalist in track in high jump and 100 hurdles
Jocie Klocke    Hardin-Calhoun    5-11    Sr.    F    Uncommitted, top scorer (21.1 average) and career rebound leader (1,010) for 29-5 team that reached the Class 1A Elite Eight for the first time
Alexis Lloyd    Chicago Young    5-10    Sr.    G    Virginia Tech recruit is ranked 106th nationally among seniors by Blue Star, a double-figure scorer for 34-0 Class 4A state championship team
Maggie Lyon    New Trier    6-1    Sr.    G    Northwestern recruit is ranked 145th nationally among seniors by Blue Star, top scorer (20.1) and rebounder (8.3) for a 20-10 team
Taylor McClintock    Illini Bluffs    5-10    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer (24.6) and rebounder (5.5) for 30-6 team which placed third in Class 1A; second on team in assists (2.8)
Katie Meador    Salem    5-11    Sr.    F    Florida Gulf Coast recruit, top scorer (23.3) and rebounder (10.2) on a 29-5 team that lost in the Class 3A Elite Eight
JeTaun Rouse    Chicago Marist    5-9    Jr.    G    Uncommitted, top scorer (13.0) on a 32-2 team that lost in the Class 4A Elite Eight; second in school history at school with 1,406 rebounds
Brooke Schulte    Breese Mater Dei    5-10    Sr.    G    DePaul recruit, top scorer (19.0) on a 26-3 team; scored school-record 1,907 points for teams 103-14 in her prep career
Celina VanHyfte    Annawan    6-0    So.    F    Uncommitted, top scorer (22.6 average) who had a school-record 724 points for a 30-2 team; averaged team-high 12.4 rebounds per game
Taylor Voss    Breese Central    6-0    Sr.    F    McKendree (volleyball) recruit, top scorer (13.3 average) for a 30-6 team that placed second in Class 2A; team’s No. 2 rebounder (5.8)

Special Mention 50
NAME    SCHOOL    HT.    YR.    POS.
Samirah Ali    Hillcrest    5-0    Sr.    G
Carly Beebe    South Fulton/Astoria/VIT    5-9    Sr.    G
Meri Bennett-Swanson    Vernon Hills    6-2    Jr.    C
Kandie Bloch    Argenta-Oreana    6-1    Jr.    G
Leah Bolton    Chicago Marist    5-9    Jr.    G
Shavonne Brewer    Rock Island    5-6    Jr.    G
Tianna Brown    Lombard Montini    6-0    Sr.    C
Bryn Buckwalter    Freeport    5-11    Jr.    F
Aleesha Cleaver    Dakota    5-7    Sr.    G
Maggie Cunningham    Peoria Richwoods    5-9    Sr.    G
Kalie DiNunno    Guerin    5-7    Sr.    G
Kelsey Dirks    Robinson    6-3    Sr.    C
Michelle Dobbs    Rochelle    5-11    Jr.    G/F
Josey Fruhling    St. Joseph-Ogden    5-8    Sr.    F
Jessica Gerig    Stillman Valley    5-10    Sr.    G
Kalla Gold    Eureka    5-6    Sr.    G
Devan Griffin    Geneseo    6-0    Sr.    C
Stekara Hall    Oak Park-River Forest    5-9    Sr.    G
Shay Harre    Nashville    5-9    Jr.    F
Jerica Hawkins    Decatur Lutheran    5-10    Sr.
Olivia Jakubicek    Cary-Grove    5-10    Jr.    F
Skyler Jessop    Grayslake Central    5-9    Sr.    G
Taylor Johnson    Lincoln-Way East    5-6    Sr.    G
Jackie Kemph    Rolling Meadows    5-6    So.    G
Taylor Klingelhoefer    O’Fallon    5-7    Sr.    G
Rachel Konieczki    Rockford Lutheran    5-3    Jr.    G
Jessica Lieber    Galesburg    5-3    Jr.    G
Molly Marcum    LeRoy    5-10    Sr.    G
Katelynn Martinez    Centennial    5-6    Jr.    G
Ashley McConnell    Fremd    5-9    Jr.    G
Nia Moore    Bolingbrook    6-2    Sr.    F
Taylor Nazon    Trinity    5-7    Jr.    G
Kalea Parks    Proviso East    6-1    Sr.    F
Kaitlin Phillips    Hinckley Big-Rock    5-6    Sr.    G
Christen Prasse    Lisle Benet    5-10    Jr.    G
Paige Rakers    Carlyle    5-10    Jr.    C
Keiera Ray    Bolingbrook    5-9    Sr.    G
Charnelle Reed    Homewood-Flossmoor    5-11    Sr.    F
Kelcie Rombach    Ottawa    5-11    Sr.    G
Khadaizha Sanders    Bishop McNamara    5-5    Fr.    G
Ashley Santos    Geneva    6-0    Sr.    F
Stacia Simmons    Centennial    5-6    Jr.    G
Nicole Smith    Rockton Hononegah    6-4    Sr.    C
Sydnee Sturdivant    Decatur Eisenhower    5-8    Sr.    G
Mariah Sunkett    Belleville East    6-1    Sr.    F
Rachel Torres    DeKalb    5-7    Jr.    G
Jessie Wendt    Teutopolis    6-0    Sr.    F
Taylor White    DeKalb    5-8    Sr.    G
Briya Wilborn    Westchester St. Joseph    5-6    Sr.    G
Stephenee Yancy    Kankakee    6-2    Sr.    C

Honorable Mention 100
NAME    SCHOOL    HT.    YR.    POS.
Cortney Allenbaugh    Morton    5-10    Sr.    F
Danica Balbach    Warren    5-6    Sr.    G
Diamond Beatty    Tinley Park    5-5    Jr.    G
Jennifer Berg    Midwest Central    5-11    So.    F
LaTondra Brooks    Oak Lawn    5-6    So.    G
Alexis Brown    Belleville East    5-7    Sr.    G
Lauren Brummel    Somonauk    6-1    Sr.    C
Joanna Bukowinski    Elmwood Park    5-5    Jr.    G
Martha Burse    Kankakee    5-7    So.    G
Alexa Capps    Woodlawn    5-5    Jr.    G
Jemia Carpenter    Peoria Central    5-10    Sr.    F
Jackie Cardona    Aurora Central    5-10    Sr.    G
Claire Chester    St. Scholastica    5-7    Jr.    G
Cassidy Clark    Orion    6-0    Jr.    C
Brittany Collins    Maine West    6-1    So.    F
Kristin Coniff    Bartlett    6-0    Sr.    F
Khadija Cooley    Joliet West    5-4    Sr.    G
Chelsea Cross    Centennial    5-10    Jr.    F    
Octavia Crump    Zion-Benton    5-11    Sr.    G
Halle Devoe    Springfield Southeast    5-9    Jr.    G
Nikki Dizon    Chicago Latin    5-8    Sr.    G
Sydney Doby    Harvest Christian    6-2    So.    C
Megan Doody    Neuqua Valley    5-7    Sr.    G
Nikia Edom    Lombard Montini    5-6    Jr.    G
Rebekah Ehresman    El Paso/Gridley    5-6    So.    G
Olivia Elger    Peoria Notre Dame    5-7    Fr.    G
Samantha Ellsworth    Havana    5-8    Sr.    G
Sophie Fairman    Staunton    6-2    Jr.    C
MiKayla Fallon    East Moline United    5-9    Sr.    G
Cassidy Glenn    Providence Catholic    6-0    Sr.    G
Jacqui Grant    Maine South    6-3    Jr.    F
Lauren Gronewold    Illini West    5-11    Sr.    F
Kaydie Grooms    Marshall    5-11    So.    F
Sarah Hansen    Kewanee Wethersfield    5-4    Jr.    G
Leslie Harden    Madison    5-8    Jr.    G
Randa Harshbarger    St. Thomas More    5-4    So.    G
Mariyah Henley    Niles North    6-0    Sr.    F
Alicyn Hester    Yorkville    5-9    Sr.    F
Alissa Hirsh    Niles North    5-5    Sr.    G
Lexi Hobbs    Dunlap    5-9    Sr.    G
Kamisha Holsapple    Cumberland    5-6    Jr.    G
Abby Horn    Herrin    6-1    Jr.    F
Erica Hotze    Neoga    6-1    Sr.    F
Aimee Iverson    Sherrard    5-4    Sr.    G
Jordan Jackson    Annawan    6-1    Sr.    F
Erica Jordan    Waubonsie Valley    5-8    Sr.    F
Tiana Karopulos    Andrew    5-9    Jr.    G
Jaelyn Keene    Jacksonville    6-2    So.    C
Alex Klackova    North Clay    5-11    Sr.    G
Donna Koerber    Westchester St. Joseph    5-11    Sr.    F
Sammi Kohlbecker    Tuscola    5-5    Sr.    G
Tori Kuhn    Quincy Notre Dame    6-0    Sr.    C
Deanna Kuzmanic    Wheeling    5-8    Fr.    G
Kellie Kuzmanic    Wheeling    5-10    Sr.    F
Lake Kwaza    Sycamore    5-5    Sr.    G
Sam Lambrigtsen    Oregon    5-6    So.    G
Brianna LeBeau    Oak Lawn Richards    5-10    Sr.    F
Paige Lincicum    Cary-Grove    5-10    Sr.    G
Paige Luehmann    Granite City    5-1    Sr.    G
Michelle Maher    Maine South    5-9    Sr.    G
Vanessa Markert    Brown County    6-2    Fr.    F
Colleen McDonagh    Glenbrook South    5-10    Sr.    G
Molly McGraw    Bloomington CC    5-8    So.    F
Chantal Meacham    Centennial    5-9    Jr.    G
Marta Medina    Aurora East    5-9    Sr.    F
Emily Michael    Highland    6-0    Sr.    F
Ashton Millender    Marian Catholic    5-10    So.    G
Alaina Morrell    Christian Life    5-9    Sr.    G
Hannah Nimrick    Riverdale    5-10    Jr.    F
Kendyl Nunn    Morgan Park    5-9    Sr.    G
Shea O’Brien    Pittsfield/Pleasant Hill    5-7    Jr.    G
Keisha O’Neal    Tilden    5-5    Sr.    G
Jade Owens    Fenwick    5-7    So.    G
Tatyana Peck    Normal U-High    5-8    Sr.    G
Kaitlyn Pleau    River Ridge/Scales Mound    6-1    Sr.    F
Taylor Quain    Lockport    5-9    Sr.    F
Desiree Rhodes    Aurora East    6-1    Jr.    F
Tia Robertson    Normal West    5-9    So.    C
Kylie Romeo    Moline    5-8    Sr.    G
Gracie Sanchez    Glenbrook North    5-10    Sr.    C
Ali Sanders    Dundee-Crown    5-7    Sr.    G
Allie Schoonover    Pana    5-7    Jr.    G
Anna Schueler    Loyola    5-7    Sr.    F
Alyssa Siwek    Mother McAuley    5-9    Jr.    G
Sydney Smith    Vernon Hills    5-10    So.    G
Alex Stanford    Rich Central    5-7    Jr.    G
Faith Suggs    Plainfield East    6-0    Fr.    G
Brionna Taylor    Southeast    6-0    Jr.    F
Erin Thomas    Richmond-Burton    5-6    Sr.    G
Maddie Timmerman    Breese Central    5-10    So.    F
Tyshee Towner    Aurora East    5-8    Jr.    G
Meghan Waldron    Wheaton Warrenville South    6-0    So.    G
Allison Webb    Goreville    6-0    Jr.    C/F
Lauren White    Edwardsville    5-8    Jr.    G
Jessi Wiedemann    Fremd    6-1    Sr.    G
Gabby Williams    Plainfield East    5-11    Jr.    C
Savannah Wittenbrink    Columbia    5-9    Jr.    F
Denisha Womack    Peoria Central    6-1    Sr.    G
Chanta Wright    Peoria Manual    5-11    Sr.    F
Destinee Young    Hoffman Estates    6-2    Jr.    C

Getting to know ... Jewell Loyd
Role model: Candace Parker. I don’t think there was a school project I didn’t do on her.
Favorite current college player: Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame
Favorite entertainer: My mom
Favorite class: History
Favorite movie: “Goodfellas”
Favorite store: Dick’s Sporting Goods
Favorite restaurant: L. Woods, Lincolnwood
Favorite car: Bentley
Pet peeve: People chewing with their mouth open
Best thing about Niles West: Diversity
College plans: Attending Notre Dame to play basketball and major in communications and broadcasting

News-Gazette Players of the Year
Year    Name    School
2012    Jewell Loyd    Niles West
2011    Morgan Tuck    Bolingbrook
2010    Tricia Liston    Fenwick
2009    Adrienne GodBold    Chicago Marshall
2008    Sarah Boothe    Gurnee Warren
2007    Brittany Johnson    Olney East Richland
2006    Brittany Johnson    Olney East Richland
2005    Lindsay Schrader    Bartlett
2004    Candace Parker    Naperville Central
2003    Candace Parker    Naperville Central
2002    Johanna Solverson    Lake Zurich
2001    Cappie Pondexter    Chicago Marshall
2000    Aminata Yanni    Harlem
1999    Molly McDowell    Nokomis
1998    Allison Curtin    Taylorville
1997    Amanda Levens    Belvidere
1996    Tauja Catchings    Stevenson
1995    Tamika Catchings    Stevenson
1994    Dominique Canty    Chicago Young
1993    Kim Williams    Chicago Marshall
1992    Kim Williams    Chicago Marshall
1991    Becky Clayton    Sullivan
1991    (tie) Megan Lucid    Mother McAuley
1990    E.C. Hill    Chicago Young
1989    Toni Foster    Chicago Marshall
1988    Yolanda Griffith    Chicago Carver
1987    Nancy Kenelly    Maine West
1986    Michele Savage    IHM


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