MORRIS – After defeating Morris in Tuesday's pool play in the Morris Girls Shootout, Minooka girls basketball coach Ray Liberatore mentioned that his team was well-balanced between outside and inside threats.
In Wednesday's 47-24 win over Kaneland in the championship bracket's third-place game, that balance showed over and over. With Kaneland concentrating on post players Kelly Carnagio and Breana Huber, the Indians were able to free up Sydney Arlis and Emily Knaub for open 3-point attempts.
That plan worked to near perfection, as Arlis hit three 3-pointers in the first half to help Minooka pull away. Knaub hit a pair of 3s after halftime to keep the lead intact.
"I was very pleased with the girls," Liberatore said. "We hit five 3-pointers. Any time you can do that, it's just great. Those are difference-makers. That's 15 points right there.
"Emily Knaub tore her ACL last year, so it was nice to see her come out here and be comfortable on it. You can't ever determine how someone is going to come back from an injury like that until you see her on the court. There was no indecisiveness or apprehension on her part when she had to move. That's great to see."
Arlis drained her 3-pointers in succession, helping Minooka, which finished the tournament with a 5-1 record, increase its lead from 12-8 with 5:20 to play in the first half to 22-10 at halftime. She nearly had half of the Indians' points in the first half and made Carnagio an assist machine.
"This is Kelly (Carnagio)'s fourth year on the varsity, and she might end up with more assists this year than the previous three years combined," Liberatore said. "She and Sydney have a nice action together and I couldn't ask more from those two girls. We are really improving our half-court offense, and they are a big part of that. When we combine that with the points we get off our defense and the points we get because of the speed of (guards) Latricia Dean and Brooklyn Bachmann in transition, we are going to be hard to defend.
"Sydney is definitely the more vocal of the two, and it's nice to not have just a coach's voice telling the team what needs to be done."
No one needed to tell the Indians what to do in the second half, as it was more of the game. Minooka dominated after halftime, with Knaub hitting a pair of back-to-back 3s to make it 32-17 with 11:10 to play. She finished with 11 points, Carnagio had eight and Bachmann five.