Girls Basketball: Minooka looking for a regional three-peat
By Jeff Vorva For Sun-Times Media June 30, 2012 4:46PM
Minooka's Larissa McLemen. | Jeff Vorva~For Sun-Times Media
One in an occasional series on Joliet-area athletes and teams gearing up for the 2012-13
high school season.
Updated: August 2, 2012 6:04AM
When Minooka won a regional title in the 2010-11 season, the Indians snapped a 31-year drought — in spectacular fashion.
That season, the Indians had a school-best 23-5 mark and a perfect mark in the Southwest Prairie Conference.
In 2011-12, the Indians were far from dominant or perfect. They weren’t even close to breaking even, finishing 13-17.
Yet they managed a second straight Class 3A regional title with a 60-56 victory over host Joliet West, then played Moline strong in sectional play before falling 36-29.
At first glance, it appears the 2012-13 version of the Indians will be somewhere in between the 23-5 squad and the team that was 13-17. It’s too early to say if that means the Indians will be able to win three regional titles in a row, but they have players who have tasted postseason success.
The Indians knocked off West Aurora, East Moline and Sterling in pool play in the recent 32-team Morris Shootout. Only five of the 10 Minooka players who suited up at Morris on June 19 had varsity experience.
The Indians were without 5-foot-10 starter Sam Wurtz, who suffered her second knee injury in three years.
According to coach Ray Liberatore, Wurtz suffered the injury in April during a practice with her AAU team, the Illinois Raptors.
“You hate to see this because she’s a player who could play in college and she’s missing this time as far as AAU exposure goes,” Liberatore said. “She knows what she’s up against when it comes to her rehab. She’s determined to come back for the season, and we’re sure she will be back.
“I know she will work extremely hard to get there. I’m confident she will be back for us; it’s just a matter of when. It could be after Christmas. That’s out of our control. For now, we’re going through an adjustment period this summer without her.”
Seniors Sydney Lilly, Karli Carter and Larissa McLemen, junior Erin Heide and sophomore Kelly Carnagio bring in the most experience.
“Two years ago, no one thought we could win a regional, but we all did,” McLemen said. “And last year it was just as exciting. I want us to keep going.”
There could be more excitement in store: Liberatore may open up the tempo of the offense.
“I like what I see in terms of speed,” he said. “This could be one of the fastest teams we’ve had at Minooka in a while. That should allow us to defend well. But can we generate enough offense? At the end of the day, when we were really good, we could count on (former Indians star) Stephanie Furr to score 20 points and that made everyone’s job a lot easier. We’ll need to have balanced scoring this year.”