Lady Leafs have potential to be a special team

Chris Steele
Anna Pierce, center, looks for an open passing lane during drills during a Lady Leafs' practice.

Most seasons, the Lady Leafs’ basketball preview features a lot of new names and faces looking to establish themselves at the varsity level.

However, this isn’t like any other Geneseo season.

The Lady Leafs return a solid core of senior players with varsity experience, and they expect to win.

“They have won at every level coming through,” Geneseo Coach Scott Hardison said. “They won as freshmen, they won as sophomores and they won the NIB 12 Conference last season. They just bring a sense of confidence and the ability to win every time out which is the mentality we have been trying to develop.”

Up front, Geneseo’s Hannah Himmelman returns after earning a spot on the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association (IBCA) All-State Special Mention list, and Josie Brown was a NIB 12 West All-conference honorable mention last season.

A junior, Keeli Frerichs earned an all-conference honorable mention last season, and she’s worked hard in the offseason to improve her outside shooting.

Adia Raya provides a spark off the bench from her guard spot.

A pair of forwards who supply Geneseo with interior grit will be Kaitlyn Webster and Tori Verbeck.

Verbeck came back from injury last season and helped Geneseo secure the NIB 12 Conference title, and Webster was a lockdown defender in the second half of the season.

Geneseo’s Anna Pierce, Eden McAvoy and Lauren Pardoe will step up to the varsity level after leading a sophomore team to a 27-1 record last year.

The Lady Leafs’ underclassmen might be what gives Geneseo an edge in every game this season.

Maddi Barickman and Abbi Barickman both have great size and have developed their skills beyond the arc to keep opponents from crashing the lane against Geneseo’s size and speed inside.

“We have great size, but this is going to be a tall and quick team,” Hardison said. “It’s a team that is very athletic and they have the length to be a problem when we press and when we are on defense. They alter shots, tip passes, get in passing lanes and cause a lot of havoc.”

Incoming freshman, Kammie Ludwig is a player everyone is excited to see.

“She’s a talented basketball player,” Hardison said. “She works a ton in the offseason and she plays AAU up in Chicago. She brings some knowledge and some experience at a higher level of basketball than we are used to seeing for an incoming freshman.”

Ludwig has the handle to play guard and the physical frame to drive to the hoop and post up in the low block.

Along with the Barickman twins, Ludwig will be another player who can stretch defenses with her range.

Ludwig ability to run the floor and push the ball in transition will give Geneseo’s speedy offense a whole new gear.

The Lady Leafs will open the season at home hosting the Geneseo Tournament against St. Bede on Monday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m.

Lady Leafs’ varsity roster

 3    Adia Raya    12    G

10    Anna Pierce    11    G

14    Josie Brown    12    G

20    Keeli Frerichs    11    G

22    Maddi Barickman    10    G/F

23    Abbi Barickman    10    G/F

24    Kaitlyn Webster    12    F

30    Kammie Ludwig    9    G

32    Lauren Pardoe    11    G

34    Tori Verbeck    12    G/F

44    Hannah Himmelman    12    F

54    Eden McAvoy    11    F

Coach: Scott Hardison. Assistant coaches: Ryan Kelly, John Wagner and Steve Eckert. Manager: Avery Spranger. Technical Director: Jesse Dobbles.

Lady Leafs’ basketball schedule

Nov. 12    St. Bede at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7:30 p.m.

Nov. 14    Sherrard at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    6 p.m.

Nov. 16    Alleman at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    6 p.m.

Nov. 17    Peoria Christian at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    6 p.m.

Nov. 20    Annawan at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    5 p.m.

Nov. 27    Geneseo at Alleman    Alleman High School    6:30 p.m.

Nov. 30    Geneseo at Ottawa    Ottawa High School    5:30p.m.

Dec. 4    Geneseo at Moline    Wharton Field House    6:30 p.m.

Dec. 7    DeKalb at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Dec. 11    LaSalle-Peru at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Dec. 12    Stark County at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Dec. 18    Geneseo at Yorkville    Yorkville High School    7 p.m.

Dec. 21    Monmouth-Roseville at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Dec. 26-29    State Farm Holiday Classic    TBA    TBA

Jan. 3    Geneseo at Sterling    Sterling High School    7 p.m.

Jan. 5    Iowa/Illinois Shootout     Augustana College    TBA

Jan. 8    Sycamore at Geneseo     Geneseo High School    7 p.m.    

Jan. 10    Rochelle at Geneseo     Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Jan.12    Geneseo at Morris    Morris High School    5:30 p.m.

Jan. 15    Ottawa at Geneseo     Geneseo High School    7 p.m.

Jan. 18-21    MLK Varsity/Soph Tournament    Kewanee High School    TBA

Jan. 24    Geneseo at LaSalle-Peru    LaSalle-Peru    7 p.m.

Jan. 26    Kaneland at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    TBA

Jan. 29    Geneseo at Rochelle    Rochelle High School    7 p.m.

Feb. 7    Sterling at Geneseo    Geneseo High School    7 p.m.