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A first-round sectional exit and a 9-11 record didn’t come without some bright moments in the Whitko girls’ basketball season.
Earlier this week, the Three Rivers Conference announced its all-conference teams where coaches vote for the best-of-the-best among the eight conference teams.
Three Lady Wildcats were recognized in a talent field that made the list. Whitko tied for most first-team all-conference selections with juniors Micaela Sylvester and Karissa Olinske.
Senior Rachelle Kessie finished her career at Whitko with her second consecutive season on the second-team all-conference.
According to Whitko head coach Rob Bell, all three players put the team before individual honors.
“We so often talk to our players about team ball and playing for team accolades and if you accomplish those things then individual accolades will follow,” Bell said. “I can honestly say that these three young ladies and our team as a whole never worried about individual accomplishments. They only wanted the team to be great.”
Sylvester returns to the first-team for the second consecutive year. As point guard, Sylvester averages 13.7 points and 3.3 steals (fifth best in TRC) per game. Her 78.3 percent (112-of-143) at the free throw line is second in the conference along with 3.8 assists per game.
“Micaela really grew up a lot between this year and last and did a nice job running the team from the point and making herself into one of the best guards not only in our conference but also in the area,” Bell noted.
Olinske’s spot along side Sylvester on the first-team is her first after being honorable mention in 2010. Primarily a perimeter shooter for the Wildcats, Olinske led the team with her 15.4points per game (third best in TRC).
Olinske joined Sylvester on the Miami County All-Tournament team after winning the county tourney.
Karissa really started to come into her own this season and as the season continued began to utilize all of her athleticism,” Bell said. “She really worked hard this summer and dedicated herself to basketball and I think you’re starting to see the fruits of that labor.”
Olinske’s numbers in 2011 go down as some of the best for a Lady Wildcat in a single season. Olinske scored 307 points ranking her fourth all-time and landed her with the third highest points averaged in school history.
Senior presence came in the form of center Rachelle Kessie this season. Earning a slot on the second-team back-to-back seasons has Kessie first in the conference with 7.9 rebounds per game.
“She is a very special player, an excellent teammate and captain and even a better young lady,” Bell commented. “She will be definitely be missed on the court next season. For the past four years she has done all of those little, behind the scenes, leadership things that are crucial for a team’s success.”
Kessie finishes her career among the school’s leaders in career rebounds, block shots, field goal shooting percentage for a career and leaves holding the No. 1 position for field goal shooting percentage in a season following her junior year.
Besides Whitko’s three spots on the all-conference list, conference champion Wabash was the only other to earn more spots with four.
Whitko finished with a 4-3 record in the conference placing them third behind Manchester and Rochester in second (5-2).
It is the third time in four seasons that the Lady Wildcats have recorded at least nine wins. Under Bell, Whitko has racked up a 50-58 record in five seasons.