On Campus

On Campus: Full healthy, Cary-Grove grad Katie Barker hopes for special season at Ohio

Helping her team to victories against Ohio State and Pittsburgh has given Katie Barker high hopes for Ohio University’s women’s basketball season.

“I feel like I’m a part of something special, and I hope this season turns into something really special,” said Barker, a junior guard for the Bobcats. “It’s already been really exciting.”

A season ago, Barker’s outlook wasn’t as hopeful.

The Cary-Grove graduate played in one game before having surgery for a meniscus issue in her left knee.

After the surgery, she developed a blood clot in a calf that became a pulmonary embolism in her lungs.

Barker missed the rest of the season while getting back to health.

“That was by far the hardest recovery I’ve had of any surgery,” said Barker, a redshirt junior. “It took so long to get my lungs back in condition. It was physically hard in a way that I couldn’t imagine. To finally be back on the court feels good.”

Barker, a redshirt junior, has created plenty of good vibes with her 3-point shooting ability.

Along with a career-best 7.9 points a game, she is shooting 37% from long range, the highest of her career.

In six of Ohio’s 15 games, Barker has connected on four or more 3s, including a season-best 18-point outing Nov. 13 against Marshall when she hit six long-range shots.

“I feel like all the hard work I’ve put in is paying off,” she said.

Barker ranks fourth in the Mid-American Conference in 3-pointers a game (2.5) and seventh in 3-point percentage. She has made two or more 3s 11 times this season, including six of the Bobcats’ past seven games. Over that seven-game span for Ohio (9-6), Barker is shooting 43% from distance.

Barker attributes her success to better knowledge of Ohio’s system and the game.

“My maturity level and my confidence and focus going into games has improved as I’ve gotten older,” she said. “I have a fairly good grasp of [our system], and that helps. I know where I’m supposed to be. My teammates trust me to be there. My coaches trust me. It’s just a better understanding of what we’re doing. Having the opportunity to help my team win games and to be an important part of our success has been really exciting.”

The Bobcats are 2-2 in MAC play this season with their two losses coming by a combined three points. On Wednesday, Ohio lost, 73-72, at Western Michigan in a game decided in the final 10 seconds. The close losses have not dampened what Barker says is a special group of players at Ohio.

“I feel like the sky’s the limit,” she said. “We have so much talent. We have a really good opportunity to win the MAC championship and make it to the NCAA Tournament. It’s our turn, and we have the ability and the talent to make that happen.”

After a home game Saturday against Ball State (11-5), Ohio travels to DeKalb to face Northern Illinois (4-11) on Wednesday in a game that Barker welcomes every year. She expects a group of Cary-Grove fans to welcome her return to the area.

“Having that support of family and friends and old teammates – even some of the younger girls in Cary-Grove’s basketball program – is really special,” she said.

Fanter, SXU rolling: St. Xavier’s women’s basketball team improved to 12-0 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference with a 72-60 victory Wednesday against Roosevelt.

Senior guard/forward Chanel Fanter (Crystal Lake South) had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Cougars (17-3), who are ranked No. 10 nationally in NAIA Division II.

Fanter leads SXU in scoring (14.2 points a game), is second in rebounding (6.3 a game) and total assists (56).

A four-year starter for the Cougars, Fanter is only 66 points from becoming the third player in school history to reach 2,000 career points. She is 51 rebounds from 900 in her career, which only four SXU players have achieved.

Mullen shines at NCC: McHenry West grad Ian Mullen is the top wrestler this season at North Central College in victories and pins.

Mullen (26-6) is a senior wrestling at 133 pounds who has 12 pins on the season. He also is 3-0 this season in College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin duals for the D-III Cardinals.

Mullen, who was named CCIW Wrestler of the Week on Nov. 19, finished last season 26-8 with five pins.

At 174 pounds, North Central is led by freshman Brock Montford (Crystal Lake Central), who is 16-9. Montford has a team-high seven wins by major decision.

Crain helps Augie: Woodstock grad Jeni Crain has more than doubled her scoring and rebounding averages this season for D-III Augustana College’s women’s basketball team.

Crain, a senior guard, is one of the top reserves for Augie (8-7) and is averaging 6.9 points and 1.9 rebounds a game. She also has the second-most steals on the team (15).

Olivet success: Hampshire grad Luke Tuttle has started every game this season for Olivet Nazarene’s men’s basketball team, which was ranked No. 4 this week in the NAIA Division II national rankings.

Tuttle, a senior forward, is averaging 4.9 points and 1.7 rebounds a game for the Tigers (18-2).

• Barry Bottino writes a weekly column about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at barryoncampus@hotmail.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.

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