Top 10 Girls Basketball Players to Watch in 2021-22

Here are 10 local girls basketball players that we are going to keep an eye on as the 2021-22 season unfolds

Sean Curran
The Evening Tribune
Hornell's Lillian Hoyt takes the ball to the rim in a win over Wayland-Cohocton in the 2021 season

Basketball season is finally upon us, and the local athletes in the area are ready to make an impact on the hardwood.

After a shortened COVID season in 2021 where players were given little opportunity to grow and develop, this season will provide a great look into which local athletes are truly dedicated to the game of basketball.

In that spirit, here are 10 local girls basketball players that we are going to keep an eye on as the 2021-22 season unfolds.

10. Natalie Cornell – Jasper-Troupsburg (So.)

Natalie Cornell is a dominating inside presence for the Wildcats already in just her sophomore season on the varsity team. Cornell is listed at 5’10” on the roster, meaning that she towers over nearly every opponent in the league. But Cornell is more than just height, as she has great touch around the rim and is an aggressive rebounder. On the other end of the floor, she is a natural rim protector and will anchor the Wildcat defense on most nights as the rest of the young roster grows around her.

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9. Chloe Herman – Arkport-Canaseraga (Jr.)

In the past, Chloe Herman was the type of player that would seemingly make a minor impact on the game, until you looked at the stat sheet and realized that she dominated both ends of the floor. In her junior season, there is nothing quiet about Herman’s impact on the basketball court, as the junior wing player is one of the most skilled athletes in Steuben County. Herman’s ability to get to the rim, finish inside or draw fouls and get to the line is nearly unmatched. If she can get to the rim at will, stay active and knock down important shots at the free throw line, the Wolves will have a great chance at being one of the top contenders for the SCAA Championship.

Juliet Marino (32) buries a shot during Wednesday's home win over LeRoy in Hornell.

8. Juliet Marino – Hornell (Sr.)

Juliet Marino has a tremendous amount of skill on the basketball court, but the thing that has always made her a great player is her leadership. She understands the pace of the game, directs her teammates through the game, and gives Hornell a level of control that most teams are not capable of playing with. She is a lockdown defender that perfectly understands her assignment, and when left open, she is a great shooter from the perimeter. Marino will be an x-factor for the Red Raiders on most nights, and the better she plays, the more likely it will be that HHS continues to grab wins. Marino’s leadership, combined with her incredible skillset will be a huge asset for Hornell in the toughest, closest games of the season, and she gives HHS a big advantage in those moments.

Dansville's Sidney Stone flies out of bounds in an attempt to save the ball during Saturday's contest with Waterloo in the Class B2 Championship.

7. Sidney Stone– Dansville (Sr.)

Coming into her senior season, Sidney Stone is one of the most successful basketball players in Dansville history. She has been on the varsity roster for four seasons, and has been a significant contributor to some great teams. This year, she will be one of the main reasons that the Mustangs continue to have success on the varsity level. Stone averaged just over six points per game last year, but as a four-year senior she should easily be able to average double-digit scoring figures. She knows the game, she knows how to get her shots and she’s an extremely efficient player. Stone is also a strong defensive player and is an active perimeter defender picking up 14 steals in 13 games last season.

Canisteo-Greenwood's Brooke Burd (13) puts up a shot over Alfred-Almond's Zoe Balinsky Saturday night.

6. Brooke Burd – Canisteo-Greenwood (Jr.)

Brooke Burd comes back into her junior season as a walking double-double machine as she averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game last season. Burd is a dominating inside force and a player that uses her physicality and toughness to dominate opponents. The best thing about Burd, and the thing that makes her such an impactful player is that she is willing to fill any role that the Redskins need on a particular night. She can get points in the paint, she can pull down rebounds and she can dominate the defensive end. But she doesn’t need to score if that is what the gameplan calls for because she is more than capable of filling other roles by setting screen or setting up teammates. Burd malleability is one of the most unique things about her, and it will pay huge dividends for a Redskin team that is looking to compete for an SCAA Championship.

Dansville's Madison Lee powers to the hoop for a bucket in Friday night's win over host Hornell.

5. Madison Lee – Dansville (Sr.)

Madison Lee is Dansville’s other four-year player as a senior, and she is clearly one of the most impactful players in the league on the offensive end of the floor. She’s not just a quality scorer, but is an all-around guard as she can dish out assists and is an effective rebounder for a smaller player. Lee’s best characteristic is that she is the rare type of player that can control a game without scoring a single point. She knows exactly what pace the team needs to play at, she can recognize mismatches and she keeps Dansville humming at all times. Lee’s leadership and guard play on both ends will continue to be important not only this season, but in future seasons as she sets the example for what it means to play for the Dansville Mustangs.

Wayland-Cohocton's Julia Zastawrny (14) and Kailey Johnson (2) battle for a loose ball Monday in Hornell.

4. Kailey Johnson – Wayland-Cohocton (Sr.)

The Wayland-Cohocton girls basketball team had a very up-and-down 2021 season last year, but Johnson was as consistent as it comes. Kailey Johnson was clearly the best player on the floor in many games last season as she did a little bit of everything for the Golden Eagles. She averaged just under 10 points per game, but also pulled down 6.1 rebounds per game and had an impressive 3.4 steals per game. Johnson’s motor is never-ending, and she can single-handedly take over games on both ends of the floor. As a senior, Johnson should be able to set a huge example for the rest of the team, and with a year of improvement on both ends could possible average a double-double. If the Eagles are going to look to compete in Class D2, Johnson will be the main reason why.

Hornell's Tayghan Doorley (1) drives to the hoop during Tuesday's contest against Livonia.

3. Tayghan Doorley – Hornell (Sr.)

Tayghan Doorley might be the most athletic girls basketball player in Livingston County this season, and it might not be close. Doorley is strong, fast and has unbelievable body control on both ends of the floor, and it’s clear early in this season that she has made a huge leap from her junior to senior season. Last season, Doorley did a little bit of everything, scoring 11 points per game while grabbing four rebounds, two assists and two steals in each game. And if the jump in skill level is sustainable, those number could jump way up, giving Doorley an opportunity to completely control the outcome of games with her ability. With her athletic ability, Doorley might pull off one of the rarest of statistical achievements for a 5-in-5, where a player records five totals in five different categories. If the Red Raiders are going to compete for a Section V Championship this season, Doorley will have to be the most impactful player on the floor every single night.

Canisteo-Greenwood guard Lillian Mullen led all of Steuben County with 19.4 points per game.this season.

2. Lillian Mullen – Canisteo-Greenwood (So.)

Canisteo-Greenwood’s Lillian Mullen might be the best scorer in Section V right now as a sophomore. She can score from any angle at any spot at any time. She gets out on the fast break for layups, she buries 3-pointers from Greenwood and she is excellent making a first move past the defender and either pulling up or getting to the free throw line. Last season, Mullen averaged over 17 points per game as a freshman, and it feels like stopping her this season at 17 points is an automatic win for the opponent. Mullen, simply put, is a walking bucket, and that automatically makes her one of the most important players in the area. But more than that, Mullen is a solid defensive player that is entering her fourth year on the varsity roster. She knows where she is supposed to be, she understands the system and she excels in it. Mullen is not just to be monitored this season, but will also be must-watch basketball for the next three seasons in Canisteo-Greenwood.

Hornell's Lillian Hoyt puts up a layup through the defense on Wednesday evening in a contest against Haverling.

1. Lillian Hoyt – Hornell (Fr.)

When Lillian Hoyt is on fire, Hornell is unbeatable. The Freshman burst onto the scene last season as a sharpshooter that could change the course of a game in a matter of seconds. Hoyt has some of the best performances of the season last year scoring the basketball, including a 31-point performance against Wayland-Cohocton that helped Hornell break the century mark in points. As Hoyt continues to grow into her freshman season, she will not only continue to be the best shooter in the area, but will also be able to get to the hoop, understand her defensive assignments and set up her teammates for their own shots. If Hoyt can find a little more consistency on both ends as a freshman, she will not only be the best player on the floor, but she will single-handedly lead the Red Raiders to some big, important wins.