This spring, Jenna Thorp is getting a much-needed break.
No AAU, no splitting time between two sports and no pressure-packed tournaments in front of college scouts.
Thorp has signed her National Letter of Intent to play at Northern Illinois and now can prepare for summer workouts with the Huskies after the 2009-10 Daily Chronicle Girls Basketball Player of the Year guided the Hinckley-Big Rock girls basketball team to its second straight Class 1A state title.
“It’s a great feeling to have accomplished that,” Thorp said. “To know that your senior year you went the furthest that you could. It’s kind of a good wrap-up of your high school career.”
Thorp will compete in track and field this spring and practice basketball on her own, shooting in her front yard when the weather is good or going to former middle school summer league coach Bill Mangers barn to shoot when it’s not.
“I’m planning on working on my shot inside and outside, and maybe more ball-handling drills,” Thorp said. “I need to make sure my body is conditioned well.”
Thorp averaged 15.0 points per game this season along with shooting 53.0 percent from the field (195 of 368), making 70.6 percent (132 of 187) of her free throws and averaging 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.3 assists per game while committing just 40 turnovers in 35 games.
She played every position, from point guard to the post, and her best asset was how much better she made her teammates.
“We used her in the post much more than will happen at NIU, but that’s where we needed her to have the most success,” H-BR coach Greg Burks said. “There were several instances where we brought her away from the basket and it was very tough for teams to match up with her on the perimeter.”
Thorp started her high school career as a freshman guard on a team that lost five seniors from the year before. The Royals didn’t know what to expect, but they ended up 27-4 and reached a sectional final under coach Larry Peppers.
That was when the Royals found out how good they would have it for the next three seasons.
“The thing that was most impressive to me,” Burks said. “was that the minute she joined our team in November of 2006, she walked in as a freshman and immediately assumed a leadership role on the team.”
From there, things only got better for Thorp. The Royals reached the sectional final before falling to Newark the next year and went on to win two state titles with an aggregate record of 119-12 over four seasons with Thorp, Jes Meyer and Maxzine Rossler sharing the backcourt.
That record, and the Royals success, was only part of the reason Thorp can rest easy heading into her final spring of high school. The real reason is her tireless work in the offseason on AAU teams that traveled the country, drumming up interest before deciding to go to school a half hour from home.
“We used her everywhere on the floor and that’s what was attractive to college recruiters,” Burks said. “She could play any position on both ends of the floor.”
All area teams
Jenna Thorp, Hinckley-Big Rock
Senior Thorp had the highest scoring average of her career this season with 15.0 points per game as she led the Royals to their second consecutive state title before she heads to Northern Illinois University. She also averaged 8.3 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.3 assists per game while committing just 40 turnovers in 35 games. “When you have a player of that caliber that takes the floor for you night in and night out,” H-BR coach Greg Burks said. “It makes it real easy to find a mismatch somewhere.”
Tess Godhardt, Hinckley-Big Rock
Junior Godhardt once again saved her best games for the state finals, where she scored nine points with 15 rebounds in the state championship game and 19 points with 11 rebounds in the state semifinals. Godhardt averaged 13.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals while shooting 62.5 percent from the field and 72.7 percent from the free-throw line. “She got on a nice roll in the postseason and, about the time of the sectional, started playing really well,” Burks said. “If we hope to have any success next year, she’s going to have to play at that level on a nightly basis.”
Kaitlin Phillips, Hinckley-Big Rock
Sophomore Phillips came into her own this season and emerged as a floor leader on a veteran team. She averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals for the Royals. “She went from being someone who was so timid that we couldn’t have her on the floor at the end of the state final game the year before to being probably one of the top 15 players in Class 1A,” Burks said.
Montia Johnson, Sycamore
Junior Johnson averaged 11.0 points and 7.0 rebounds while making 47 percent of her shots from the field. At key times, she was absolutely dominant for the Spartans. “When Montia was on her game, she was one of the top players on the court,” Sycamore coach Ryan Picolotti said. “She finished the year real strong, not only offensively but defensively.”
Kate Binder, Sycamore
Senior Binder was the Spartans’ court leader on both offense and defense and showed up big with 15 points in a tight regional loss to Hampshire that ended the Spartans’ season. She averaged 8.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.0 assists for Sycamore. “Kate did an awful lot for us offensively through her three years but was also good defensively,” Picolotti said. “She’s intelligent, she gets in the passing lanes and she just made it difficult for people to be able to run their stuff.”
• Maxzine Rossler, Hinckley-Big Rock, senior • Jes Meyer, Hinckley-Big Rock, senior • Kay Smith, DeKalb, senior • Taylor White, DeKalb, sophomore • Molly Meier, Genoa-Kingston, senior
• Mallory Carlson, Kaneland, senior • Emily Bemis, DeKalb, sophomore • Randi Maynard, Hiawatha, sophomore • Lauren Anderson, Indian Creek, junior • Lake Kwaza, Sycamore, sophomore
• Michelle Todd, DeKalb, senior • Kelli Gerace, DeKalb, junior • Rachel Torres, DeKalb, freshman • Jessica Pluhm, Sycamore, junior • Ashley Berlinski, Sycamore, junior • Mariah Sartorius, Genoa-Kingston, senior • Katie Browder, Indian Creek, senior