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Grayslake- Prep girls basketball: Story is Carmel. A returning host of star players is returning from last years team. They battle Round Lake at Grayslake Central. Claire Ogrinc (right) Carmel tangles up Lisethe Tellez of Round Lake. | Joe Cyganowski~F
Since a heartbreaking one-point loss in its season opener against Prairie Ridge, things have been looking up for Carmel’s girls basketball team.
After that tough loss, the Corsairs reeled off wins in five of their next six games, with victories over Highland Park, Grant, Mundelein, Marian Central and Resurrection.
At the center of that streak has been the energy provided by 5-foot-10 senior forward Claire Ogrinc, who has averaged nine points and four rebounds per game thus far. Although those numbers aren’t eye-catching, third-year Carmel coach Kelly Perz believes Ogrinc is quickly becoming a critical element for the Corsairs’ success.
“She is like the motor of our team,” Perz said. “She never stops. On offense and on defense. Defensively, she’s our best stopper and always guards the other team’s best player. And she’s by far the best outside shooter on our team.”
Against Resurrection on Nov. 29, Ogrinc had seven steals in the first half alone. She finished the game with nine picks defensively as Carmel prevailed 60-50. Her relentless effort has set the bar high.
“She possesses a lot of the qualities we’re looking for in a senior and a leader,” Perz said. “She’s been doing a great job of leading by example.”
That’s something that Perz has tried to stress to her players. After winning a Class 3A regional title last season and losing several key contributors, the Corsairs need more players to follow Ogrinc’s lead and step into a bigger role.
Ogrinc was originally called up to the varsity squad her sophomore season. As a junior, she didn’t get many minutes. But she remains a prime example of how hard work is one of the most important elements of Perz’s system.
“The rest of our girls need to figure out that they’re no longer gonna be the role players,” Perz said. “We need them to step up and lead the team as well.”
Carmel senior center Kayla Quinn (8.5 ppg, 5 rpg) has also taken notice of Ogrinc’s efforts.
“She’s a hard worker who doesn’t stop until the whistle’s blown,” Quinn said. “She just brings a positive energy.”
Ogrinc also admits that she’s still learning and adjusting to her increased role.
“There’s a lot more expectations placed on my shoulders now,” Ogrinc said. “I’m expected to be in the game a lot more, I have to make sure I know all the plays. I used to always struggle a little bit with knowing all the plays, but this year I’ve gotten a lot better at it because I’ve had to know them.”