PEORIA — After four standout seasons for the Southern Illinois women's basketball team, East Peoria product Kylie Giebelhausen is officially "the one that got away" for area programs.
The 6-foot-1 senior has developed into one of the best all-around players ever to suit up for the Salukis, and is all over the SIU career stats lists. She is the current team's leader in scoring (12.0 a game), steals, 3-pointers and minutes played.
Giebelhausen's long list of honors include 2016-17 first team All-Missouri Valley Conference, 2015 MVC All-MVC Freshman team, and 2017-18 preseason All-MVC.
Not bad for a someone who was just hoping for some playing time when she joined the Salukis.
"I wanted to be a role player and do whatever I needed to do, because the players we had there already were pretty talented," Giebelhausen said. "They all ended up being 1,000-point scorers, and they're the leaders in almost every statistical category at SIU. So I just wanted to play and do what I could to do my part."
She has done that and more.
Giebelhausen ranks in the top 10 on the SIU career list for blocks (122), made 3-pointers (220) and minutes played (3,596). She also is in the top 25 (and climbing) on just about every other statistical category for the Salukis.
SIU coach Cindy Stein originally recruited Giebelhausen to play for her at Illinois Central College. When Stein got the job in Carbondale, she didn't stop pursuing her.
"Kylie was one of my first recruits at Southern, and means the world to me," Stein said. "She's been huge for our program. Not only is she a terrific player who can do almost anything, but she's a great young lady.
"She is a very selfless kid who doesn't worry about her stat line. She just wants to play hard and do whatever she needs to do."
Every time Giebelhausen returns to Peoria to face Bradley, she is greeted by a large cheering section of friends and family, waving signs, yelling and holding up life-sized (Fathead) pictures of her . . . usually.
"I told my mom, 'No Fatheads today,' " Giebelhausen said after the Salukis handed the Braves their first Valley loss, 63-62, on Friday. "I don't really like all that stuff. They had signs today, so that wasn't bad.
"It's always special playing here, but I always get a little nervous, like I have to perform really, really well. As long as we get the win, that's what I'm more concerned about. I'm undefeated in Peoria and undefeated at Redbird Arena, too, knock on wood."
After graduating this year with a degree in pre-physical therapy, majoring in exercise science, Giebelhausen will enroll at Bradley, but not to play. She will continue her studies in the BU doctor of physical therapy program.
"Bradley didn't recruit me, and neither did Illinois State," Giebelhausen said. "They had different coaches back then, so it might be different now if I was in high school. And I committed early, so I don't know if that would have changed anything."
The next time the SIU plays in Peoria, Giebelhausen will be watching from the sidelines, but still supporting the Salukis.
"It'll be a little weird, but I'll be there in maroon . . . no doubt in maroon," Giebelhausen said. "Coach Stein gave me a chance at SIU, and I haven't regretted it since. And I don't think she has either."
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at Jcampos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.