Collinsville battles through injuries, lineup changes
January 31, 2013Collinsville High School
Staying healthy has been a problem, but the Collinsville girls basketball team is still competitive.
Collinsville was 10-10 overall and 5-5 in the Southwestern Conference heading into Tuesday's game at Alton. On Saturday, the host Kahoks earned a 43-34 non-conference win over Mascoutah. Freshman Caity Brombolich led Collinsville with 11 points.
For the second year in a row, Collinsville has had to overcome illness and injuries to key players. Junior Lexie Thompson (6.6 points per game) is done for the season after tearing the ACL in her right knee in a 45-23 loss to Belleville West on Jan. 10. Senior Karla Halde, the team's leading scorer (10.1), had the flu and missed a 64-61 win over O'Fallon on Thursday.
"You wonder if you have a black cloud over your head," Collinsville coach Lori Billy said. "Just like last year, we've had some knee injuries, but the other issues have been kind of strange.
"We do this warm-up program that our athletic trainer, Amanda (Baugher) has put together and I think it's helping. Anything we can do to be proactive and try to prevent injuries is going to help.
"We had a meeting here Sunday with all of our third- through eighth-grade junior Kahok players to start teaching those kids how to do knee-strengthening and co-strengthening exercises. It's a matter of prevention at this point."
Injuries to Thompson and other players have required Collinsville to use a variety of different starting lineups.
"They've adapted well to it," Billy said. "The kids have stepped into their roles and done what they needed to do to get us wins.
"The pieces are starting to fall into place for some of them. When you look at the fact that none of these kids other than Karla had a lot of varsity experience, for them to be doing what they're doing right now shows that they're growing and learning."
Collinsville has three seniors, with Halde and Katie McCarthy (5.8 points per game) starting and Brooke Meyer (1.6) coming off the bench.
"Every year you want your seniors to become your rock and these kids have been no different," Billy said. "Katie has been fighting injuries with her leg, but she's working through it. Brooke is solid for us and had seven huge points against O'Fallon, including a huge three that really helped us out.
"Karla is our go-to player and she's been there when we need her. All three of them have given us leadership on and off the floor."
Beyond Thompson and the seniors, the Kahoks have relied heavily on underclassmen, including sophomore Aubreeney Brady, who is the team's second-leading scrorer at 9.1 points per game. Sophomore Samantha Buettner and freshman Kassidy Smith have contributed throughout the season and freshman Julie Scheiter, who wasn't on the varsity roster at the beginning of the year, has scored 64 points in 10 games.
"We had all these injuries and had to pull kids up, and Julie was playing really well at the freshman level," Billy said. "Our post players, between Sam and Kassidy, are starting to figure it out as well. Caity Brombolich and (sophomores) Sophie Sharos and Paige Giacoletto are coming on the floor and doing what they need to do."
McCarthy, who scored 15 points in 14 games as a junior while dealing with injuries, is a varsity starter for the first time.
"This year has been frustrating because we thought we were going to make it through the whole season staying healthy, but almost every game we have a different lineup," McCarthy said. "We're learning to play through that and play with the people that we have."
While McCarthy has been able to play, she's not 100 percent as some of her knee problems from last season have flared up again.
"Every game has been a bit of a struggle for me, but especially in the O'Fallon game with Karla out, I had to take the team on my shoulders with Brooke and myself being the only older players on the court," McCarthy said.
"We're doing well learning how to play together," Meyer added. "We just have to fight through it."
Under the circumstances, Meyer is pleased with the Kahoks' improvement.
"You have to be supportive and pick up the team," Meyer said. "We want to stay strong and be positive and lift each other up and be a family."
The 5-foot-5 Brady, meanwhile, is emerging as an offensive force and had a game-high 17 points against O'Fallon.
"I had to get used to varsity ball and trying to be a leader," Brady said. "They look for me to handle the ball, get us into our offense and get a basket sometimes."
Smith, like most freshmen, has had to get used to going up against older players.
"It was a big jump going from eighth-grade ball all the way up to varsity and being the youngest player on the team," Smith said. "It was a little nerve-wracking, but now I'm used to it."