Playoffs will be ‘all business’ for Corsairs
By Tim Froelig | SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-SUN February 7, 2013 7:00PM
Carmel's Claire Ogrinc puts up a shot during a game on Jan. 31. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 9, 2013 2:22AM
Third-year Carmel girls basketball coach Kelly Perz likes playing the role of spoiler.
But she’s also well-aware that since she arrived at Carmel, the Corsairs have become one of the top teams in the area. Last season, Carmel won 18 games and its first Class 3A regional championship since 2004. This year, the Corsairs are 19-8 with one regular season contest remaining.
“Yeah, I would say we have (arrived and gained a lot of attention), at least in Lake County,” Perz said. “I like to kind of be the underdog though. And I like to surprise people.”
The Corsairs won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season, however. And they won’t be underdogs. That’s because they were awarded the No. 2 seed in the 22-team Class 3A Vernon Hills Sectional.
“I’m very happy with the position we’ve put ourselves in,” Perz said. “The girls come in every single day and work their butts off in practice — and it paid off. That’s just one of the best lessons they can learn, in life and in basketball. You put in the hard work, you get rewarded.”
Carmel’s first postseason game is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Corsairs will play the winner of the play-in game between 16th-seeded Johnsburg and No. 19 North Grand.
Vernon Hills coach Paul Brettner, whose top-seeded Cougars are the only club ranked higher than the Corsairs in their sectional, had some kind words for Carmel. Vernon Hills ended Carmel’s season last February en route to a second-place finish at Class 3A state.
“This year, Carmel is even better,” Brettner said. “Most of the kids that were playing major minutes for them last year are back it seems. They have so many players who do so many little things well.”
A year ago, Carmel forward Cassidy Kloss was a sophomore on the varsity.
“I’m not going to go as far as to say we’re better than last year, but we have a ton of people who got a lot of postseason experience last season,” Kloss said. “That’s a huge factor for us, that we’ve all been through something like that.”
Kathleen Felicelli, a junior guard, was also on last year’s regional championship squad.
“Last year, players like myself and Cassidy weren’t really leaders on this team, but we’ve grown so much since then,” Felicelli said. “Now, it’s kind of our turn to set the example for some of the younger players.”
Perz, meanwhile, seems ready to prove just how good her club can be.
“We’ve come such a long way since the end of last season, and since the start of this season,” Perz said. “Especially our girls who are now juniors. I think last year in the playoffs, they were pretty nervous, very jittery and very tentative. We’re not a finesse team. We work our butts off on defense. And we create our offense off of that.” ~