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Big Northern, NUIC all-conference boys and girls basketball teams, with standings

Rockford Lutheran senior Blake Broege, shown driving through the Taylor Ridge Rockridge defense during a one-point Class 2A supersectional loss at Sterling on March 6, 2023, was one of four Crusaders voted first- or second-team all-conference in the Big Northern.
Rockford Lutheran senior Blake Broege, shown driving through the Taylor Ridge Rockridge defense during a one-point Class 2A supersectional loss at Sterling on March 6, 2023, was one of four Crusaders voted first- or second-team all-conference in the Big Northern.

This was a strong basketball season for both the Big Northern and the NUIC, with two teams reaching state championship games and a third the state semifinals. Byron's girls finished second in Class 2A and Galena third in Class 1A. On the boys side, Scales Mound finished second in 1A and Rockford Lutheran finished a couple of inches shy of reaching the state semifinals in 2A, losing by a point in the supersectionals when a last-second shot that bounced off the front rim.

Well, here are the best players who drove these strong seasons. The all-conference teams were selected by the coaches in both leagues. You can expect the Big Northern boys race to be especially tough next year: Three of its seven first-team all-conference players were sophomores this season.

Rockford Christian's Elijah Daugherty tries to block a shot by Pecatonica's Cooper Hoffman on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Pecatonica.
Rockford Christian's Elijah Daugherty tries to block a shot by Pecatonica's Cooper Hoffman on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Pecatonica.
Byron's Ava Kultgen (22) blocks a shot by Chicago Butler's Xamiya Walton (1) during the first quarter of the Class 2A state semifinal game on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
Byron's Ava Kultgen (22) blocks a shot by Chicago Butler's Xamiya Walton (1) during the first quarter of the Class 2A state semifinal game on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
Pecatonica's Elaina Rager, left, and Orangeville's  Laney Cahoon scramble for a loose ball during the fourth quarter of their game on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Pecatonica.
Pecatonica's Elaina Rager, left, and Orangeville's Laney Cahoon scramble for a loose ball during the fourth quarter of their game on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, in Pecatonica.

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Big Northern and NUIC boys and girls basketball all-conference