Basketball may not be Katie McCarthy's No. 1 sport, but she's making an impact this season for Collinsville.
McCarthy, a 5-foot-9 senior, is averaging eight points per game for the Kahoks, who were 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the Southwestern Conference heading into Tuesday's home game against East St. Louis.
"Last year at this time she was sitting on the bench because she was injured," Collinsville coach Lori Billy said. "She really wasn't healthy for us until about the middle of January. This year she's taken control and taken her senior leadership role to heart.
"She's kind of become the floor general - she's the one that gets the girls moving and gets them into place. She's very good with the rest of the team and they look up to her and respect her.
"Her shot is not dropping the way we want it to, but her 3-point shooting has improved tremendously. Defensively she's gotten a ton better and she's learned to handle the ball in key situations for us."
McCarthy was a middle hitter for the Collinsville volleyball team, which had seven seniors and was 23-12 overall and 5-2 in the SWC. The basketball team has three seniors - McCarthy, Karla Halde and Brooke Meyer - but Halde is the lone returning starter.
"We have a freshman starting plus a sophomore point guard and a lot of times we have another freshman on the court," said McCarthy, who scored 15 points in 14 varsity games as a junior. "Sometime it's a little rough out there, but we're getting better. We're getting experience and by the end of the season I think it will pay off."
Collinsville is coming off a 59-10 loss at Edwardsville on Thursday. The Tigers (5-0) are the defending conference champions and were the Class 4A runner-up last season.
"They're a very good team and we just have to move on from that game," McCarthy said. "Even though the score didn't show it, we stuck with it in our hearts and played hard until the end.
"Our defense has been pretty impressive, which again didn't show (against Edwardsville), but we've worked on getting where we need to be on every possession."
It took a while for McCarthy to make the adjustment from volleyball to basketball.
"My shot is a little off still, but I've gotten back into the basketball state of mind," said McCarthy, who plays club volleyball. "I played a little bit of select basketball with Kayla Murphy and Shaye Barrett (who graduated after last season), but that's pretty much it. I've never really focused my offseason on basketball.
"I'd have to say volleyball probably comes a little more naturally to me. I haven't played as much basketball, but I'm still able to perform it to the best of my ability. I've struggled with my shot so far this year, but my 3-point shooting is usually the key that I've put most of my focus into.
"Being a senior leader out there along with Karla, every time we get the ball, we need to put up points on the board."
McCarthy was considering playing volleyball at a small college, but is now more likely to attend a larger school and focus on academics.
"I think I'm either going to go to the University of Kansas or the University of Illinois," McCarthy said. "I'm very competitive and I like to win everything I do and I'm going to miss that part of it, but those are big schools and I can still play club or intramurals.
"I'm going to major in elementary education. I really like kids and I'm very vocal and energetic. I'm a leader naturally on the court and I feel like I am off the court too. I think that will transition well into a classroom.
"It gives me a little more of a drive to be successful this season knowing it's last time I'm putting on that purple jersey. It's going to be a little different not having that next year."