McHenry’s Ava Interrante was in no rush but quickly knew Valparaiso was the right fit for her.
The 5-foot-10 junior guard first visited the campus in early December and received an offer on the spot by women’s basketball coach Mary Evans.
She went back for a second visit not long after and had a really good feeling. On Tuesday, Interrante announced her commitment on Twitter to play basketball for the NCAA Division I Crusaders.
“It means everything,” Interrante said Wednesday. “It’s always been a dream of mine to play Division I basketball. Now that it’s real, I’m super excited. I had a lot of people believe in me when I first started playing competitively in AAU basketball. They always told me I can do it.”
Interrante, who also had strong interest from Illinois State and St. Louis University, wanted to go to a school close to her home in McHenry. The Valparaiso campus is about 2½ hours away by car.
She also appreciated how close everyone in the program was.
“Their program is very close and family oriented, and I love that,” Interrante said. “I went to their camp, and I really liked their coaches. I watched a couple of games, and the coaches have good relationships with all of the players.”
Last year, Interrante was a part of the most successful McHenry girls basketball team in school history. The Warriors finished 28-3 and won the Fox Valley Conference for the first time.
McHenry is 15-8 this year and trails Hampshire and Dundee-Crown by two games in the FVC. Interrante missed 11 games with an injury to her nonshooting hand but has since returned.
Ava Interrante’s’ older sister, Aannah, went through a similar process two years ago before she committed to Bradley. In two years, the sisters could wind up seeing each other in the Missouri Valley Conference.
“That would definitely be a lot of fun, getting to see her and play against her,” Ava Interrante said. “I think it will be a lot of fun for both of us. She helped me a lot. She told me to keep trusting the process and that I’d know when the right school comes.”
Valparaiso currently is 4-11 and 0-3 in the MVC. The team’s last winning season came in 2008-09.
Interrante is hoping to help turn things around.
“The coaches liked how I can play the 1 and 2 guard, my versatility,” Ava Interrante said. “I think I can help them make some plays and help start things up. I’m very grateful for everyone that’s helped me along.”