MINOOKA – The Minooka Indians are 3-for-3 in winning regional championships in girls basketball since Erin Heide entered high school. She has contributed to all three.
As a freshman, Heide was a late-season call-up to the varsity.
She established herself as a varsity contributor as a sophomore and was the Indians’ second-leading scorer, behind the graduated Larissa McLemen, as a junior in 2012-13.
If the Indians are to make it four regionals in four tries with Heide, they will do so with a different style than in past seasons.
“We’re gonna be pretty short this year, but we’re really quick. We’re used to having really good posts inside, but this year we’re shorter and quicker,” Heide said. “I like it a lot because it’s a fast-paced game, could throw some teams off. It’s a different look thaN the past three years.”
Only one player on the varsity roster, Kerli McLemen, is 6-foot.
The tallest player coach Ray Liberatore projects to start is the 5-foot-10 Sydney Arlis, who will move from a wing position to forward. Freshman Brooklyn Bachmann will start the point guard, with seniors Heide and Bethany Bachmann on the wings and 5-foot-9 Kelly Carnagio at center.
Filling out one of Liberatore’s deepest rosters are guards Ella Campbell, Abbie Hoeg, Emily Knaub, Kayla Kreis, Alexis Pease and Lacey Viano, forwards Rebecca Andreano and Alexis Hinkleman and center Marah Kasuba.
“I think we’re gonna be able to run up and down the court pretty well,” Liberatore said. “I think we have some good speed. I think we have quite a few players that can put the ball in the basket. Yeah, I’m very optimistic about what we’re going to do this year.”
Carnagio cannot replicate Larissa McLemen’s size and may not entirely replicate her numbers, but Liberatore thinks Carnagio can be another in a string of productive post players the Indians have had in the past several seasons.
“I think in order to be good, you have to have an inside presence,” Liberatore said. “I’m very confident [Carnagio will] be able to do that for us.”
To Heide, the pieces are in place for her final varsity season to be as successful as her first three.
“I wanna win regionals for the fourth year in a row. I wanna be [Southwest Prairie] conference champions,” Heide said. “Getting four would really be cool.”