MORRIS – It didn’t bother Minooka’s Cierra Bachmann that the first day of the Morris Ladies Shootout came with a little pain.
The junior guard suffered a cut under her right eye Tuesday when she attempted a layup in Minooka’s opening game against the host Redskins.
“I like getting scratches or bruises because you know you’re working hard for your team, trying your hardest,’’ Bachmann said. “That’s what it’s about, doing the best you can for your team.’’
Minooka opened with a 68-21 victory in the two-day, 32-team event that’s part of the Indians’ preparation for the 2017-18 season. The Indians then beat Peotone, 55-20 and upended Andrew, 41-32.
As far back as Minooka coach Ray Liberatore can remember, his team has participated in the Morris Ladies Shootout. And, Liberatore said, it’s close to home, unlike the Indians’ hour drive to Geneva twice a week for a travel league.
“One thing that’s nice about this is the proximity,’’ Liberatore said. “You play different teams. That’s always good, you don’t play anybody in your conference initially in the pool. You see, for example, Morris running a dribble-drive today. You see different offenses. That’s what the summer is about. A big part of what we’re doing is starting the process over. We had four seniors who graduated who all had a big role. We had some strong seniors. So it’s playing with a different group, starting the process over again and going from there.’’
Liberatore will get no complaints from Bachmann about playing in sweltering conditions, no matter whether it’s in Morris or Geneva.
“I love summer basketball,’’ she said. “See the team get together, have chemistry and moments to bond. Then that chemistry just unfolds on the court. A close team leads to a close team out on the court. I work on the basics, I try to at least. I’m not really an outside shooter, but I like to shoot more during the summer. The summer is practice for regular season. The more time you have, the better.’’
Senior guard Jenna Roberts has a similar outlook for summer basketball.
“It’s nice to see all of our new team together, especially playing against good teams and getting a feel for how we work together and what we need to work on,’’ Roberts said.
“I want to work on making smart decisions, shooting good shots, knowing when to score or pass. It helps us get in better shape. For summer, you get off another sport season, you’re not really in basketball shape. So playing a lot of games really helps you to get there.’’
Each team at the shootout plays six games in close to a 24-hour period. The rapid-fire, six-game setup is ideal for coaches to evaluate all of their players under sometimes trying conditions.
“You can’t hide,’’ Liberatore said. “You’re going to get minutes. All these girls get equal minutes pretty much. What you do positively and what you need to do better, either it gets exposed or highlighted in a positive way.
“I think you always see that when you play a lot of games in a short amount of time and everybody is playing. That’s what I like about our team, everybody can do a little something to help us.’’
Minooka is coming off a 24-4 season that ended with a 56-49 loss to Bolingbrook in the Class 4A Oswego Regional final.
With Bachmann’s sister, Brooke Lynn, off to Division II Bemidji State in the fall, Cierra will be counted on even more next season.
“Cierra is a leader definitely in terms of what she can do on the court,’’ Liberatore said. “She’s our best defender. She can run the court. She has unbelievable quickness. I expect her to be one of our leaders this year.’’