The ol’ sports editor covered my first boys’ basketball game in Bureau County at the Princeton Turkey Tournament in 1986. I’ve seen a lot of top talent and teams come and go. Continuing an assignment I tackled first with volleyball and cross country, here’s a look back at the top 25 players I’ve seen in 25 years.
The best two players I’ve seen, without a doubt, hail from Hall High School — Shawn Jeppson (class of ‘98) and Kailey Klein (2006). Both led their teams to the state tournament and went on to play Division 1 basketball. The Dynamic Devils are also Hall’s all-time leading scorers, Jeppson with 1,829 points and Klein at 2,496 (the Hall trophy case shorts Kailey 10 points).
I’m going to run down the ladies first, starting from my first season, 1986-87, adding a 26th bonus pick for the start of my 26th year.
Angie Noble, PHS, 1987: Saw her just one year, but was more than enough. Averaged 18.0 ppg senior year and scored 994 overall. Went on to play volleyball at ISU.
JoAnn Thomson, Western, 1988: One of the best all-around players for sure, averaging 18.9 points, and led Charlie Yelm’s Ramettes in rebounds and steals. She was a foreign exchange student from New Zealand.
Rachel Robinson, PHS, 1988: “RR” was a two-time BCR selection and NCIC First Team pick, scoring 831 points.
Karen Hechtner, Neponset, 1988: A three-year starter and a force inside for the Lady Zephyrs, graduating as NHS’ leading scorer (1,197) and rebounder (821).
Angel Jaggers, Manlius, 1989: A four-year varsity starter, the Red Devils guard is the MHS all-time leading scorer with 1,405 points, averaging 23.3 her senior season.
Nicki Hansen, Manlius, 1990: The six-foot center averaged a double-double for the Red Devils with 16.3 points and 10.4 rebounds a game as the 1990 BCR Player of the Year.
Megan Lanham, Western, 1991: The redhead guard stands as the former Ramettes program all-time leading scorer (1,141 points), assists (328) and steals (276). Coaches women’s hoops for the University of Rhode Island.
Kim Hansen, Neponset, 1992: Known as the “Microwave” for her outside shooting, the Lady Zephyrs guard was a three-time All-BCR first team pick. Finished as Neponset’s all-time leading scorer (1,530) as well as assists (498).
Tina Forth, PHS, 1992: Known as a setter for the Tigresses’ 1990 state champions, Forth also had game in hoops. She stands No. 3 all-time in scoring at PH with 1,029 points.
Jolene Bair, Neponset, 1993: If not for a girl to come along later by the name of Klein, Bair would get my nod as the best player. The 5-11 center was a two-time first team all-stater and finished as NHS’ all-time leading scorer, girls or boys, averaging 21.5 points and 11.1 rebounds before going on to play for ICC.
Maria Lorenzi, SBA, 1994: The 1994 BCR POY was a major force at the academy, averaging 24.3 points and 12.2 rebounds a game her senior season. She stood as the academy’s all-time leading scorer (1,453) for 12 years and went on to play for IVCC and Bradley.
Rachel Hansen, Ohio, 1994: Averaged 16.2 points and 13.2 rebounds senior season for the Lady Dogs.
Rachael Weeks, Neponset, 1994: Played for four regional champions at NHS and was a three-time All-BCR pick on the way to netting 1,370 career points.
Andrea Blackert, Manlius, 1995: The two-time all-BCR pick averaged 15.5 ppg her senior year as the ‘95 POY, leading Manlius/Tampico to its first Indian Valley championship. Known as Mrs. Etheridge to her PE students at Jefferson School in Princeton.
Bethany Ellis, BV, 1998: The third team IBCA All-State guard averaged 15.9 points and 7.1 assists as a senior for BV. Stands as the Storm’s all-time leading scorer with 1,284 points.
Nicole Oberle, Ohio, 1998: Stands as Ohio’s all-time leading scorer at 1,054, averaging 16.4 points and 5.7 rebounds senior season.
Tiah Romagnoli, PHS, 1999: The three-time BCR Player of the Year is the all-time leading scorer at PHS, girls or boys, with 1,506 career points. The 6-1 center averaged 17.8 points and 13.2 rebounds as a senior.
Kelly Schail, PHS, 1999: Played Robin to Romagnoli’s Batman very well, averaging 17.9 points and 5.5 rebounds. Holds the school single-game scoring record with 40 points vs. L-P.
Nigel Geuther, LaMoille, 2003: Was a two-time BCR Player of the Year, sharing the honors her senior season with Kailey Klein. Averaged 17.3 points, 4.3 assists and 7.4 steals her senior season, remaining as the LHS all-time scoring leader with 1,440 points.
Katie Carls, SBA, 2006: Played in the shadow of Kailey Klein, but was a Player of the Year candidate in her own right. She averaged 15.8 points and 4.1 assists as a senior, and is the all-time leading scorer at the Academy and fifth overall in Bureau County with 1,471 career points.
Brooke Jensen, PHS, 2007: A three-year varsity starter, the Tigresses center averaged 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds as a senior. She is No. 2 in all-time scoring for PHS with 1,283 career points.
Austyn Miller, PHS, 2007: Part of the daily double for PHS’ 2007 sectional champions, averaging 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.
Jen Andes, Hall, 2008: The AP second team all-stater averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds. Played on four regional champions and scored 1,265 career points, second only to Klein at Hall. Just finished season at St. Francis University.
Mel Thompson, BV, 2010: The BCR and Three Rivers 2010 Player of the Year averaged 17.2 points and 9.4 rebounds, leading the Storm to the regional championship. No. 2 all-time in scoring at BV with 1,147 career points.
Jasmine Kunkel, PHS, 2012: The reigning BCR co-Player of Year averaged 13.6 ppg. She finished with 1,002, fourth all-time at PHS.
An honorable mention list would include BV’s Heidi Wager (‘98), Jamie Litts (‘03), Neponset’s Kathy Milnes (‘89), Hall’s Carly Prokup (‘09), Kelle Nett (‘12) and Jaclyn Kain (‘12), LaMoille’s Kim Scully (‘88) and Joy Beattie (‘92), PHS’ Alison Smith (‘94) and C.J. Rhodes (‘12) and St. Bede’s Nicole Pozzi (‘93), Erin McGunnigal (‘00), Sarah Stariha (‘08) and Taleah Sanford (‘04), Walnut’s Tamy Lind (‘92) and Western’s Kathy Hansen (‘87).
My apologies for leaving anyone out.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org