Al Hughes named Big Eight's top player again
Girls basketball is alive and well in Janesville.
The Big Eight Conference coaches agree on that, placing three of the city's high school players among the five first-team all-league selections.
Janesville Craig senior guard Al Hughes was named the league's player of the year for the second straight season, earning the honor in a vote by the conference's coaches this week.
She's joined by Janesville Parker senior Paige Smith and Craig junior Delaney Schoenenberger as first-team all-league honorees. Middleton senior Elizabeth Norregaard and Verona junior Grace Mueller round out the first team.
Hughes, the player of the year for 2013-14, as well, averaged a league-best 17.4 points per game and helped the Cougars win a share of the Big Eight title—with Verona—for the first time since 1980.
“I think people recognized Al was good last year, but she got better,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said. “I think what they like most is how she plays the game and her demeanor. She's hard not to like. She never rolls her eyes at another player or a coach or teammate.
“She never wavers; she's a great teammate.”
Hughes became the first Craig girls player to score 1,000 points during the Cougars' victory Saturday night over Lake Geneva Badger.
The Vikings' Smith was a first-team all-conference selection for the second straight year.
She ranked third in the league, scoring 14.5 points per game for a Parker team that finished fourth in the league standings.
“What impressed me most about Paige was how she improved each year as an all-around player,” Parker coach Tom Klawitter said. “Last year she was more of a scorer, whereas this year we asked her to do a lot more than score, and she did that. She's in pretty good company with that group (first team).”
Schoenenberger was recognized by the league's coaches after she spent the season hounding the league's top players defensively.
The junior guard also was fourth in scoring at more than 14 points per outing.
“I told them (the other coaches), 'I put her on your best kid every night, and she's helping Craig that way. Plus, she's one of the top scorers in the conference,'” Storbakken said. “So she's holding them down, and she's scoring almost 15 a game. I'm glad they recognized that.”
Parker senior Kathryn Dubanowich was named to the Big Eight's third team.
Vikings junior Bree Porter and Beloit Memroial senior Sherriah Anderson earned honorable mention.