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Freshman McKenna making impact for Trinity

01/14/2013, 6:12pm CST
By George M. Wilcox gwilcox@pioneerlocal.com

Freshman Annie McKenna has emerged as a starter for No. 5 Trinity, which has been riddled with injuries this season.

-Trinity's Annie McKenna passes to a teammate during a fast break. Trinity hosted Mother McAuley. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media

After working out with Trinity over the summer, Annie McKenna knew she had a good feeling about making the varsity girls basketball team.

But what kind of role the freshman from Elmwood Park would have? That was too hard to predict.

Other factors have led to the rise of McKenna as one of No. 5 Trinity’s starters this season. The Blazers (14-2, 6-0) had three returning senior starters when the season began, but guard Mikayla Leyden tore the meniscus in her right knee in the fourth game of the season at Regina. She is out for the rest of the season.

Two games earlier, freshman guard Maryam Wilcher sprained her right ankle. That injury became much more severe than originally thought. Wilcher would miss the next 13 games to the season.

Given a chance, McKenna came through with her most productive game in Game 6 to the season. She scored a career-high 17 points in a 72-65 victory over Milwaukee Riverside Dec. 8 at Young.

She topped herself Jan. 10 in a 64-57 GCAC Red win over visiting Mother McAuley. McKenna, who is one of the shortest players on the team, scored career highs of 20 points and four 3-pointers to help hand the Macs (13-5) their first conference loss of the season. Trinity’s last remaining conference game is at home against St. Joseph (6-14, 2-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Chargers have lost four consecutive games and are looking for their first win in January.

McKenna entered last week averaging nearly eight points per game. She upped her average in Trinity’s next game, a 64-41 victory over No. 18 Vernon Hills (18-2) with 11 points. Trinity handed Vernon Hills its second loss of the week after Stevenson became the first team to beat the Cougars.

“Every game and every team (we play) has made me more comfortable,” McKenna said. “It was kind of rough, but I’m getting used to it.”

Now it’s unlikely to see McKenna move out of the starting lineup anytime soon. She is part of a four-guard starting lineup that includes Wilcher, Loyola-bound Taylor Nazon and leading scorer Lauren Prochaska. The only post player is senior forward Shannon McGinnis.

“In the first part of the season, kids need a couple of games to get used to the speed of the varsity game,” Trinity coach Ed Stritzel said. “(McKenna) has skills in ballhandling and shooting.”

McKenna played over the summer with the Celtics, an AAU team coached by her father John. The team of six was made up primarily of McKenna’s friends from St. Celestine in Elmwood Park. McKenna is part of a talented freshman class for Stritzel that has kept the defending conference champions in first in the GCAC Red despite suffering three serious injuries.

Two other freshmen from St. Celestine, Kaitlyn Aylward and Shannon Faherty, are playing on Trinity’s JV team.

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