Lady Eagles’ family mentality and team depth leading to wins


Sheila Klieber (3) drives to the basket for two points against Joliet Junior College on Nov. 22. IVLeader photo

Josh Dillon, IVLeader Sports Editor

Lady Eagles’ head coach Pat Cinotte couldn’t speak enough about how much of a luxury he has with his team depth.

“We have different people step up each game. Some games, the bench will outscore the starters.”

Coming off an off-season filled with the loss of former standout Shannon Washington, Cinotte has his team primed and ready to carry on a winning legacy left behind by the star player who was killed Sept. 4 in Tallahassee, Fla., where she had transferred after her IVCC graduation in May.

With only two returning sophomores to the team, Julie Haye and Brianne Blumhorst, Cinotte relied heavily on his recruiting class to rebuild his team to continue their success.

Paige Woolley, a point guard formerly of Bureau Valley High School, is one of the highly talented recruits the team relies on. In the beginning, Woolley said it was tough to adjust to the college game and the depth of the team.

“Everyone on this team was the star in high school,” Woolley said. “The level of competition is the same way.”

Blumhorst kept her high expectations regardless of the team’s situation at the end of last season, looking at the game with a new perspective after Washington’s unfortunate death.

Blumhorst said, “The basketball team is like a family after some time; they push you to be better even while we may have our ‘sisterly’ moments.”

Emma Darby, a recruit from Sandwich, knew what type of program she was coming into, but was still caught off-guard slightly by just how good this team was. After a couple victories by 30 or more points, Darby said, “you know each team will be a challenge, but it shows a lot when you can get the big wins.”

Liz Liptak, a freshman from Streator, believes her adjustment to the college game was easier on a team with a younger atmosphere, adding, “I don’t believe there was any added pressure because of the lack of returning players. We still have sophomores on the team that we can get advice from if we need it.”

Coach Cinotte not only takes pride in his players on the court but off of it as well. In fact, while talking about the athletic program in general, he said that, “The emphasis on the ‘student’ in student-athlete is why IVCC does a great job of keeping athletes eligible after semester break. The players are a great reflection of themselves, their families, coaches, and their school.”

The Lady Eagles split their games in the Prince George Classic in Washington, DC, losing 55-49 to No. 5 ranked Guilford Technical Community College and beating Lenoir Community College 67-53.

The next home contest for the Lady Eagles is on Jan. 7 against South Suburban at 1 pm.