Liz McNally was just getting used to playing with the large Mackey Arena stands gleaming down at her when the St. Charles North girls basketball team traveled to Purdue.
“It was the coolest court I’ve ever played on,” McNally said. “It made me really nervous at times, though.”
But McNally’s nerves escalated at the conclusion of what she thought was her third and final game June 23.
McNally was unaware she would be far more than a spectator while preparing to watch the camp’s all-star game with her teammates.
“I asked at the beginning of camp how all-star selections worked, and I was told you would know by now if you had anyone selected,” North Stars coach Colleen Brennan said. “I didn’t have my phone out at all [June 23]. The team was trying to bond, and I was trying to model that. I checked my phone after dinner and saw I had three missed calls.”
With the game starting in less than an hour, Brennan rushed to McNally, letting the post player know she had been selected as one of 18 girls from 44 participating teams to play in the all-star game, where participants were selected by the Purdue coaching staff.
“It was really scary in the moment,” McNally said. “But I’m glad I didn’t know about it thinking back on it. I would have freaked myself out just thinking about it all day.
“It was an honor to play in that game. I was real nervous but was fine as I got going.”
Brennan said McNally’s selection is a testament to her growth after entering North’s varsity program as a sophomore last season.
“She is growing leaps and bounds,” Brennan said. “Physically, it’s amazing. Her speed, her ability to get up and down the court – all incredible. She can regulate herself better now. She doesn’t need coaching in the same way she did last year.”
After competing in seven games at Purdue from June 22 through 24, McNally returned home to face a task just as daunting as her all-star game jitters – a Glenbard South summer league game against archrival St. Charles East.
McNally, whose impressive 21-point, 10-rebound performance lifted the North Stars past the Saints during a game last season, once more paced her squad to victory.
“I guess it is a reoccurring event,” McNally said with a laugh. “It was awesome to beat [East], not only because they are a rival but because they are a good team. It’s good to know we can compete with teams like that when we, and myself, have a lot of improving to do.”
McNally has no shortage of outlets to continue her summer improvement.
As North’s summer camp concludes, she is set to compete in the Nike Showcase Tournament this weekend with AAU Hoop Dreams. McNally also will continue to play with her exposure team.
“Last year, I was nervous. I had to try and figure things out and impress the coaches,” McNally said. “Now that I know I’m on varsity, I can just focus on improving and becoming a leader. I feel like last year I was focused a lot on fitting in, and now I want to be able to help out the underclassmen and step up as a leader.”