High school girls basketball: McHenry looking for new leaders during summer program

Coming off historic season, McHenry tries to maintain its success level

McHENRY – It’s pretty hard to duplicate the best season in school history. At this point, months before the season, McHenry girls basketball coach Rob Niemic isn’t worried about that.

Niemic’s just happy to see his returning players in the gym every morning at 8 a.m. Ava Interrante, Izzy Gscheidle and Jamie Howie have been among those stepping up into leadership roles.

“Their commitment level is high,” Niemic said. “Their communication is high. Not to mention they’ve been really, really mature, the three of them. We’re having a good summer because of it, and we’ve gotten a lot better.”

For the first time in a while, Interrante will be without her older sister, Aannah Interrante, who will play at Bradley next year and left for campus last week.

The sisters played two years of varsity basketball together (including one season at Johnsburg in 2016-17), plus countless club and AAU games.

“I’ve played with her my whole life,” Ava Interrante said. “This is my first year actually being apart from her. It’s different, but it’s going well. Literally since we were little, I always played up on the teams with her.”

Also noticeably absent is forward Liz Alsot, who scored more than 1,000 points and had more than 1,000 rebounds in her career. Alsot left Friday for Division II University of Indianapolis, where she will play basketball.

In his four years, Niemic has never coached a McHenry varsity team without Alsot.

“We’re going to miss her,” Niemic said. “Liz is like family to me. Just like when you have family members who have new opportunities, you wish them the best. She set expectations high with her leadership and her commitment to our program. I think that’s really rubbed off on the current players right now.”

Gscheidle said the Warriors are each doing their part to fill that void.

“It’s weird not having her as the leader,” Gscheidle said. “But we have to step up and start being leaders ourselves. Everybody is stepping up in certain things.”

Ava Interrante, Howie and Gscheidle played major minutes for a Warriors team that won 28 games and a Class 4A regional championship. Ava Interrante led the team in assists last season. She and Gscheidle each scored about nine points per game last year.

“When we click, it’s going really well,” Ava Interrante said. “We just need to keep it up and keep working together. It takes time, but over time we’ll get a lot better.”

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