Nazareth Basketball team finds a place for Slunecko
La Grange Park, 01/08/13--Nazareth's Kathryn Slunecko drives to the basket against Lyons Township's Ashanti Davis. Nazareth Academy hosted Lyons Township High School in girls basketball Tuesday evening. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Wrestling: at East Suburban Catholic Meet at Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m.
Marist is the heavy favorite to take home the conference crown, but Nazareth has a number of wrestlers who can make some noise. The Roadrunners finished fifth at the meet last season.
Saturday Boys basketball: vs. Peoria Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m.
Boys basketball: vs. Peoria Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m.
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:14PM
LA GRANGE PARK — Volleyball’s loss is basketball’s gain.
One of the starters for first-year Nazareth girls basketball coach Kim Connell is senior Kathryn Slunecko, a 5-foot-9 forward who didn’t even participate in the program a year ago.
Slunecko was the starting setter for the Roadrunners girls volleyball team in the fall and played club volleyball a year ago for Western Springs-based 1st Alliance/Lions Juniors. She had 438 assists and 77 kills for Nazareth as a part-time right-side hitter.
Slunecko had hoped to play volleyball in college, but when that opportunity failed to materialize, she returned to her second favorite sport in November. When this year’s basketball season ends, her athletic career will conclude as well.
“I like the girls and the new coach has been great,” Slunecko said of Connell, who formerly coached at Waubonsie Valley. “I love it so much. Coach has been a big influence.”
Connell arrived at Nazareth last summer, so her first glimpse of Slunecko was during the volleyball season in the fall. Slunecko first joined the team when preseason practice began. She still played volleyball last summer and missed the basketball team’s summer commitments to shootouts, summer leagues and practices.
“For her to be off the last couple of years, she has kept right at it. On defense, she has contributed,” Connell said. “She is one of our more consistent players on the court.”
Slunecko joined the basketball team with few expectations. She knew the Roadrunners won only one ESCC game and went 11-16 last season under former coach Charlie Rohlf.
“Now we’ve won two conference games already,” Slunecko said.
Nazareth (12-9) owns wins over St. Viator and Providence and faces two more unranked conference opponents Jan. 28 at Benet and Feb. 2 at home against Carmel.
On Monday, Slunecko scored 13 points in a 72-71 loss to Oak Park-River Forest in the MLK Dream Classic at Young in Chicago.
She collected a career-high 15 points in back-to-back games at the Riverside-Brookfield Invitational against St. Francis Dec. 27 and against McHenry Dec. 28.
The Roadrunners have played without senior starter Molly Alberts since Jan. 5. Alberts has missed the last five games due to an ankle injury and then a bout with mononucleosis. Connell expects Alberts to return in time for the postseason.
The Roadrunners play at Marist Jan. 31 and host Fenwick Feb. 6 in their regular season finale.