Bolingbrook girls basketball counting on Cattenhead
As the Raiders start the playoffs against Plainfield North at 6 p.m. tonight at the Class 4A Yorkville regional, Cattenhead has been trying to relay one message to her teammates.
Kennedy Cattenhead was the only sophomore on Bolingbrook's 2011 state championship girls basketball team.
She was also a key contributor as the Raiders advanced to the supersectional last season. So she has a certain authority when it comes to playoff basketball.
"She's a talented kid, of course, but she's a kid that's experienced the playoffs before and experienced what it took to get downstate," Bolingbrook coach Tony Smith said.
So as the Raiders start the playoffs against Plainfield North at 6 p.m. tonight at the Class 4A Yorkville regional, Cattenhead has been trying to relay one message to her teammates, many of whom haven't played in a playoff game for Bolingbrook before.
"I know from my experience you have to always go out and play hard," Cattenhead said. "That's one thing I always try to remind them of because if you don't give your all that one game then you will regret it for the rest of your life."
Cattenhead is the team's most seasoned player, and perhaps the most well-rounded, which makes her an obvious selection as team leader. But her ability to lead took a hit as she sat out a significant amount of time with a knee injury. On Dec. 4, she popped scar tissue in her right knee, aggravating a meniscus tear she suffered last July. Being on the floor is a big part of building team chemistry so missing time hurt her in that department, but Smith saw her return to form as soon as she was cleared to play again.
"Not being on the floor took away from her being able to build that bond with them," Smith said. "But now you can see her trying to come up and let them know how important it is to step up for the playoffs. It's tough coming back at the end when you've missed half the year, but you can definitely see her trying to do that."
Cattenhead said the popped scar tissue in December helped loosen up the knee, though it definitely threw a wrench into the season. Some days the knee feels 80 or 85 percent, some days it's much better, a daily swing that can be frustrating but one that also gives her some perspective on the game of basketball.
"It really does make a huge difference," she said. "I know that whatever that day gives me, I have to go with it."
Smith is hoping that kind of perspective rubs off on Cattenhead's younger and more inexperienced teammates, especially in the do-or-die scenario that is playoff basketball.
"She understands what the playoffs mean," Smith said. "She understands there's no time for anything else but the one goal and to focus on each game."
Cattenhead's basketball favorites
Current player: Nate Robinson
All-time player: Tamika Catchings
Movie: "Love and Basketball"
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