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After tough loss, Carmel looks forward

02/20/2013, 8:09pm CST
By Tim Froehlig

Now that the dust has settled following Carmel’s stunning upset loss to North Chicago in the Lakes Regional Friday, there are plenty of positives to reflect upon — and even more to look forward to for Carmel.

Johnsburg-02/14/13, Fri./Johnsburg High School #14 Cassidy Kloss, of Carmel with the inside move and the bucket vs. North Chicago. | Joe Shuman~For Sun-Times Media

It was a cruel ending for a Carmel girls basketball team that had worked so hard all season.

But now that the dust has settled following the Corsairs’ stunning upset loss to North Chicago in the Class 3A Lakes Regional title game Friday, there are plenty of positives to reflect upon — and even more to look forward to.

“After the game, our team was very emotionally upset,” Carmel coach Kelly Perz said. “I didn’t want to delve into why we lost the game, or what we could’ve done better, etc., etc. I just reflected on our season as a whole with them, and how despite our loss Friday night, we had 20 wins.

“I thought everyone on our roster grew as a player this season. We got so much better since game one. So I just kind of talked to them about some of those things, and thanked our seniors for a great season and four years of hard work. We’re going to miss them.”

Those four seniors — Mariana Kolomayets, Blaze Pullman, Kalya Quinn and Claire Ogrinc — showed tremendous poise, leadership and character no matter what the situation, according to Perz.

Quinn, who was a dominant post presence, and Ogrinc, who Perz called the “motor of the team,” became instrumental to Carmel’s success this season. Quinn finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots in her final varsity game. Ogrinc, meanwhile, ripped down 10 boards Friday.

“It’s tough, because that loss was probably my last basketball game ever since I’m not planning on playing in college,” Ogrinc said. “I don’t know if it’s had time to really sink in yet. But I’m so glad I got to be a part of this team. I didn’t play a whole lot last year or the year before, but I wanted to work as hard as I could my final year.”

The Corsairs expect all seven of their juniors to return next season. One of them is forward Cassidy Kloss, who showed she’s not afraid of the postseason spotlight by scoring 18 first-half points against North Chicago (which won its first regional title since 1970).

“I hope we learn from a loss like that headed into next season.” Kloss said. “Even though we were a No.-2 seed and they were a No.-10 seed, it shows you can’t ever take anyone for granted. Not that we were overlooking them, but I think maybe we were expecting to win a little bit instead of actually playing to win the entire time.”

Perz, along with assistant Roger Lass, has turned Carmel into one of Lake County’s top programs. In her first three seasons, Perz has managed to capture the school’s first regional crown since 2004 (in 2012), while winning 18 games last year and 20 this season.

“The girls who are coming back need to work their butts off between March and October,” Perz said. “They just need to spend time in the gym, in particular becoming more basketball-smart in general. The great part is, the juniors we have coming back are all great friends and are an extremely athletic, hardworking bunch. I’m hoping this loss jolts them to want to do those things, so a year from now, it’s us holding up that regional plaque again.”

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