If there was any doubt that the Trinity basketball program would continue its domination after the graduation of star forward Megan Podkowa (now at DePaul) back in June, the Blazers wiped out that uncertainty with an impressive run in summer league play.
It’s no secret that Trinity, an all-female private catholic high school in River Forest, has solidified itself as a full-blown powerhouse when it comes to girls prep basketball. During the 2011-12 winter campaign, the Blazers won 30 games and lost just two — both to eventual Class 4A State champ Whitney Young. The stellar record pushed head coach Ed Stritzel’s career coaching mark to a compelling 163-33 in six seasons at the school. The win column of that record is likely to balloon again this coming winter and beyond as the varsity squad scorched its way to a 33-2 mark over the summer, while the junior varsity team went undefeated with 28 straight victories.
Filling the huge void left by Podkowa, a 6-foot-1 power forward who averaged double digits in points and rebounds last season, is a contingent of skilled players. Starters Mikayla Leyden, Lauren Prochaska, Taylor Nazon and Shannon McGinnis are all back. Nazon, a point guard, averaged 13 points per game during the winter.
Six-foot-1-inch junior Laura Sikora had a breakout summer and is likely to see extensive playing time. Juniors Maura Molloy, Carrie Shere and Mallory Gonzalez, along with sophomore Christine Olijnyk, will also see their fair share of time on the court, according to Stritzel.
“This is the deepest our program has been in years,” he said.
Not only does Stritzel have the use of a group of experienced and talented players, his newcomers to the program are said to be some of the best in the state. Freshmen Annie McKenna (guard), Maryam Wilcher (forward), Amber Reese (center), Arielle Reese (forward), Kaitlyn Aylward (forward) and Madison Siler (forward) are all considered top-notch players. Amber Reese and Wilcher stand 6-foot and 6-1, respectively. Three to four of the players in this freshman group could play their way onto varsity this winter, according to Stritzel.
As for the program’s history of success, Stritzel attributes it all to the players.
“It begins and ends [with them,]” he said. “I have been truly blessed to coach special kids who are not only excelling on the court but in the classroom.
“I use this phrase all the time when I say our players are ‘Trinity kids.’ Their parents have done a wonderful job of raising them and hopefully I’ve taught them to be accountable to their school and their families. The players truly love Trinity and what it represents and I feel them playing for Trinity and (President) Sr. Michelle (Germanson) inspires them. I know it inspires me and my staff.”
A few of Stritzel’s assistant coaches aren’t exactly former Trinity kids. Nicole Rivera and Maggie Kloak both played at Fenwick, another longtime powerhouse in the area.
Stritzel added that he has one major goal in mind, and that’s bringing a state title to the program. Before his arrival, the Blazers made it as far as the Class AA State quarterfinals in both 2003 and 2006. In 2010, they lost in the Class 3A super-sectional.
“I’ve only had one goal since I’ve been here and that is to bring Sister Michelle home a state championship and we will continue to pursue it,” he said. “She’s a lady I truly admire and I am so happy that Trinity is now held in a bright light. She always deserved that.”