LANSING | Long before she ever stepped on a basketball court at Illiana Christian freshman guard Gabby Kreykes knew she would have high expectations to live up to.
Her family reunions are a who’s who of Illiana Christian girls basketball alumni, from her sister Noelle who was an honorable mention all-area player in 2007 to her father who had a successful run as coach from 2005-2008, and that’s just her immediate family.
Gabby’s cousins, Jennifer Kreykes and Nicole Terpstra (Wondaal), led the Vikings to the Elite Eight and Sweet Sixteen in back-to-back seasons in 1993-94 and 1994-95.
“I’ve had a lot of family members go here,” Kreykes said. “If they went to Illiana we’re probably related, I even have to tell my parents when I talk to a boy just to make sure he’s not a distant relative.”
With all that history it would be easy to fold under the pressure, but Kreykes has done anything but fold through the first 10 games of her Vikings career. She's averaging 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game.
“To have her fundamentals as a freshman makes my job easier,” Illiana Christian coach Dave Bosman said. “She has a great attitude about the game, she has intensity and works hard, but she still has fun out there.”
Kreykes wasn’t an unknown commodity entering high school, and had some choices to make about where to attend.
She played AAU basketball with Lake Central players, and her dad teaches at Chicago Christian, so there were a few schools hoping to see her in the lineup this season.
“I talked to the Lake Central coaches when I played on their AAU team,” Kreykes said. “My parents wanted me to have a Christian education so it really came down to Chicago Christian, where my dad teaches, and Illiana, but it was pretty much Illiana from the start.”
That was good news for Bosman, who is trying to return the Vikings to a program to be reckoned with in Class A after a 3-26 season last year.
“We’re trying to build long-term success,” Bosman said. “It can be hard to keep them focused when you’ve been losing, but with Gabby and Bria (Cole) we have a pair of talented freshman up and we’re having success on the lower levels as well.”
Despite being a freshman playing on the varsity Kreykes is enjoying her time on the court.
“Playing on the varsity has been a lot of fun,” Kreykes said. “My teammates are great and they’ve really accepted me so far, there haven’t been any issues with the older players.”
She’s not the most vocal player and she doesn’t demand the ball, so she’s more likely to smile and clap than scream and point fingers as she lets her game speak for itself.
“She has so much energy she can just explode past people,” Bosman said. “She does all the little things, she listens well and she’s very coachable.”
That energy was on display recently in a break-out game in which she scored 22 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and led the Vikings with five steals and four assists in a losing effort against Fenton.
Even with those numbers Kreykes wasn’t satisfied because her team was on the wrong side of a 49-45 score.
“I hate to lose, I know they say there is something to be learned in a loss but I hate it,” Kreykes said with a shrug and a smile.
Despite her ability to take over a game, Kreykes knows it takes more than one person to win at the varsity level.
“They play much tougher defense than in grade-school ball, you can’t get steals and as many easy layups,” Kreykes said. “If I have an open look I’ll take it, but I try to pass as much as I can and involve my teammates.”
Although the record may not indicate it at 3-7, Kreykes and Bosman seem to be on the same page and have the Vikings on the right track.
“Playing at this level is different than what I’m used to,” Kreykes said, “but I want to win as much as I can while I’m here and help get Illiana back on the map.”