Nazareth sees good progress in first year under new coach
LaGrange Park, 02/19/13 Nazareth's Katelyn Cahill gets the lay up during their sectional semifinal against Glenbard South in LaGrange Park February 19, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
At Class 3A Glenbard S. Regional, 7:30 p.m.
Hosts Sectional, 7:30 p.m.
At Lewis Univ. vs. Chcgo. Cath. Invite, 9 a.m.
At Argo Invite, 10 a.m.
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:36AM
Nazareth’s girls basketball team bowed out of the Class 3A postseason in a sectional semifinal loss to Glenbard South.
But after winning 11 games last season, the Roadrunners finished 18-11 and see good things ahead under coach Kim Connell.
“We’ve taken big steps forward,” Nazareth junior Katelyn Cahill said. “We had great team chemistry this year and Coach Connell brought us a lot closer together this season. And the intensity during practices and games was very different this year.”
Junior teammate Juliana Raimondi agreed: “We’ve definitely made huge progress over the past couple of years and Coach (Connell) came in and has really turned it around for us.”
In her first season as head coach, Connell saw a group committed to helping the program rise to new heights.
“I wish I had this whole group for one more year,” Connell said. “They had to acclimate themselves to a new coach and a new system, and by the end of the year they were really getting it.”
Nazareth’s graduating class will include eight departing seniors, including Kayla Freeman, Megan Tobin and Molly Alberts. The sharpshooting Freeman led the team’s offense this season.
Juniors Cahill, Raimondi, Eileen Kennedy, Devinne Love and Tetre’anah Cross all saw considerable varsity playing time this season and they’re aiming to keep the program on an upward path as seniors.
One of the key factors in accomplishing that goal will be off-season basketball, with more Roadrunners now playing year-round.
“I’ve played traveling club basketball since seventh grade and I know a lot of the girls that haven’t in the past are going to play this spring and summer,” Cahill said. “That can only be good for next season.”
Cahill is a shooting guard by trade but she was a point guard by necessity this season. During an 18-3 first-quarter scoring run in Nazareth’s sectional semifinal loss, Cahill put up 11 points from a variety of spots on the floor.
“Katelyn is one of our best all-around players and she’ll do anything I ask her to do,” Connell said. “She’ll certainly be one of our leaders next year.”
Next year’s Roadrunners will rely on Cross’s strength and smooth offensive play in the lane, Kennedy’s outside shot, and Love’s ability to get to the basket. Raimondi will again infuse the team with the lunch-bucket mentality that Nazareth fed off of this year.
“(Raimondi) works so hard, all the time,” Cahill said. “She hustles, gets rebounds and gives a hundred percent all the time and she’s a great leader for our team. And we have a lot of good juniors coming back and some good sophomores that will be juniors next year.”
Playing in the eternally formidable East Suburban Catholic, the Roadrunners went 2-7 in league play this year, including an overtime loss to Carmel. It marked a step forward from their 1-8 ESCC record two seasons ago.
“We know we’re in one of the toughest conferences out there, but we don’t get scared or intimidated,” Raimondi said. “We just go out there and play our hardest and that’s what we’ll do next season.”