The new year started off with a bang both on the hardwood and on the wrestling mats across Central Illinois with a heap of impressive showings from local preps athletes.
This week, a pair of hoops standouts from Metamora and Brimfield lead the way, as well as athletes from Washington, Normal U-High, Dee-Mack, Illini Bluffs, Tremont and Peoria Heights.
Ranking the top boys basketball teams in the area: Boys basketball Power Rankings, Jan. 9 2024: Who's #1 at the halfway point?
The following athletes are our nominees for CSM Winter Athletes of the Week with information on their standout performances. There are polls for Boys Athlete of the Week and Girls Athlete of the Week below.
UPDATE: Ava Heinz of Brimfield and Tyce Albritton of Dee-Mack won our CSM Girls and Boys Athletes of the Week. Voting ended at 6 PM Wednesday, stay tuned for a story about our winners!
Girls Athlete of the Week nominees
Alivia Vaughan, Metamora girls basketball
Vaughan and the Redbirds are gaining momentum in a reloading year where they’ve won six out of their last nine games. The junior began her big week with 16 points in s 55-41 loss to Limestone, but led her team to victory against East Peoria and Chicago St. Ignatius later in the week. Vaughan’s career-high 25 points was the main story in the win over the Raiders while her 18 points was enough to help Metamora pull out a 49-47 win over the Wolfpack on Saturday.
Janessa Wallace, Peoria Heights girls basketball
Wallace has been a beneficial part of Peoria Heights’ 17-3 season and did it all for the Patriots in a pair of non-conference wins last week. She stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and eight steals in a 64-44 win over Princeville and contributed seven assists and six steals to go with six points in Peoria Heights’ 56-43 win over IVC on Thursday.
Power rankings the best of local preps girls basketball: Girls basketball Power Rankings, Jan. 9, 2024: Crowded fields at the top
Becca McDougall, Washington girls basketball
McDougall similarly helped her team out in more ways than just scoring as Washington stood the tests of Canton and Mundelein Carmel. The sophomore was one of multiple Panthers in double figures against the Little Giants with 11 points and found open teammates all night with seven assists. The next day, she racked up 10 rebounds and six assists in a 48-41 win over Carmel.
Reese Love, Tremont girls basketball
Love was burning hot behind the 3-point line for the Turks in their rivalry game against Dee-Mack on Thursday, sinking six triples and finishing with a game-high 22 points. The senior has assisted Tremont to a 4-1 mark in Heart of Illinois Conference play, keeping them well in the mix for a conference title.
Ava Heinz, Brimfield girls basketball
Heinz has made multiple appearances as a nominee and its easy to see why, as the junior didn’t stop making an impact for the Indians last week in two wins. She finished with a hefty 25 points in a 59-19 victory over ROWVA/Williamsfield on Wednesday and added 19 more to her weekly total in a 51-22 beating of Stark County on Saturday.
Boys Athlete of the Week nominees
Drew Kieser, Brimfield boys basketball
Kieser went ballistic on Friday night in a 63-49 win over North Fulton, scoring 43 points and sinking 11 3-pointers. Six of those 11 treys came in the first quarter and his performance helped Brimfield pick up its first Intercounty Athletic Conference win of the season.
Tyce Albritton, Dee-Mack boys basketball
Albritton was another small-school standout last week, putting up 29 points and a big game in the rebound department to carry the Chiefs in a 70-56 loss to Tremont on Friday night. The multi-sport standout then led Dee-Mack again on Saturday against Riverton with 19 points.
Hunter Robbins, Illini Bluffs boys wrestling
Robbins and the Tigers had a big weekend at the Lyle King Princeton Invitational Tournament, one of the most prestigious wrestling events in the state, on Saturday. Robbins defended his top seed in the 113-pound bracket, taking down Olympia’s Carter Knobloch via fall in the quarterfinals, then beating Vincent Moore of Litchfield and Cooper Morris of Coal City in the semifinals and championship, respectively. Robbins has also won the East Peoria Holiday Tournament and Illini Bluffs Invite this season.
Miles Kirin, Normal U-High boys basketball
Big boosts from Kirin propelled Normal U-High to a pair of wins over Springfield and Carterville to kick off 2024, starting with 21 points to lead the Pioneers in a Central State Eight Conference win over the Senators on Friday. The next day, his double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds gave him game MVP honors in the win over Carterville at the St. Joseph-Ogden Shootout.
Matthew Zobrist, Metamora boys basketball
Zobrist stepped up for the Redbirds last week in a high-level showdown against Class 3A No. 3 Harvey Thornton at the Highland Shootout. Despite Thornton eking out a 63-62 win where the game was hanging in the balance until the final possession, Zobrist was on fire with 23 points. In a mid-week prelude to Saturday’s big game, the junior scored a team-high 16 in Metamora’s 78-37 win over East Peoria.