Illinois Premier girls’ basketball team gaining notoriety

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Rockford is an incubator for girls’ basketball. In addition to all of the high school and middle school teams, we are also the home to three AAU teams. The Wildcats, The Heat and the newest addition to the mix is a team called Illinois Premier Basketball.

The new team was formed in February and has already experienced success. Earlier this month, the team competed in a tournament and finished fifth among some of the best amateur teams in the state.

Illinois Premier is coached by Keishonda Williamson. She is a former McDonald’s All-American and was a guard for the Northern Illinois University Huskies. Bryant Moore serves as the club director. The two have established the goal of getting more Rockford Public School girls into college. Their current team is composed primarily of RPS students ages 12-14.

April 20-21, the team traveled to Wisconsin to compete in the Midwest Elite Showcase. Later this summer, they have been invited to Orlando, Fla., for the AAU National Championship.

Illinois Premier practices at Ellis Arts Academy every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. Moore says the team is looking for more sixth- and seventh-grade girls. Anyone interested in learning more about the team can call Moore at (815) 289-8368.

Following is the current Illinois Premier roster: Charlynn Smith, 14, eighth grade, No. 11, guard; Shamarriha Young, 14, eighth grade, No. 22, forward; Crystal Mathis, 14, eighth grade, No. 23, guard; Jayleesa Aguirre, 14, eighth grade, No. 3, guard; Jelena Pejic, 14, eighth grade, No. 15, guard/forward; Elizabeth Bankole, 14, eighth grade, No. 21, center; Mardaeja Cross, 14, eighth grade, No. 13, forward; Ferhen Zackery, 14, eighth grade, No. 5, forward; Jordyn Tuc, 14, eighth grade, No. 20, forward; Anaiah Moore, 13, seventh grade, No. 12, guard; Heaven Williams, 13, seventh grade, No. 2, forward; Osjaunique Barmore, 13, seventh grade, No. 1, guard; Azalia Regalado, 13, seventh grade, No. 33, guard; Jessinia Barmore, 12, sixth grade, No. 50, center; Shabrianna Byrd, 14, eighth grade, forward; Kiya Polk, 13, seventh grade, No. 43, forward; and Meghan McGarry, 14, eighth grade, guard/forward.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the April 24-30, 2013, issue

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