O'Leary, Division 1 South girls fall short in all-star game
But the former Janesville Parker girls basketball standout couldn’t be more content with where her career is headed.
O’Leary shot just 3-of-13 on field-goal attempts for 10 points, adding six rebounds, four turnovers and a steal, as her Division 1 South team was beaten handily, 97-71, by the Division 1 North here Saturday in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association all-star game for graduated seniors at Madison Area Technical College.
“This wasn’t really a great performance. I’m not going to lie,” O’Leary said. “The North had a great shooting day. They were ridiculous from the three-point line (15-of-32). They played a lot more fundamentally sound and together as a team.”
Despite the rough day, O’Leary said she enjoyed the week of practice with former AAU teammates and standouts from all over the state. More importantly, she seemed mentally at peace after a tumultuous couple of months led to her being released from her commitment to Loyola University of Chicago and winding up at the University of Wisconsin, which was always her first choice.
“It’s definitely been stressful, a lot of the waiting game, just waiting for things to work out,” O’Leary said of transferring before her collegiate career even began. “It’s very political, so you have to wait for the whole process to kind of weed through. It’s definitely starting to settle in now.”
The 5-foot-10 O’Leary, a point guard in high school who will likely play shooting guard at the UW, had a distinguished career at Parker. It saw her become the third-leading scorer in program history with 1,464 points and featured two Associated Press first-team all-state selections and three Big Eight Conference Player-of-the-Year honors.
But when UW women’s coach Lisa Stone offered what at the time was her final scholarship to Ripon’s Taylor Wurtz, O’Leary signed with Loyola. That changed on March 10, however, when Loyola coach Shannon Reidy resigned.
With the prodding of some AAU teammates, O’Leary decided to follow her dream of playing for the UW and wrote Stone to see if she could walk on or fill one of two scholarships vacated by the departure of two players.
In following NCAA rules, Stone could not speak with O’Leary until O’Leary was officially released from her commitment to Loyola, which wasn’t exactly a snap of the fingers.
“It’s not just a one-call deal,” O’Leary said.
Eventually, O’Leary got her release, and she said it wasn’t until nearly a month after she sent her initial letter to Stone that she finally spoke with the UW coach. On April 27, O’Leary was offered a full-ride scholarship to the UW and signed her national letter of intent.
O’Leary immediately jumped into her collegiate career and has moved to the UW campus, where she is taking summer school courses and working out with the team. And once competitors for a single scholarship, O’Leary and Wurtz—who played for the Division 2 South team on Saturday—have become great friends.
“I guess we laugh about it now,” O’Leary said. “She said the other day in our dorm room, ‘I didn’t really even notice that we were going for the same scholarship.’ And I was like, ‘That’s ’cause you got it.’ ”
While O’Leary was sentimental about playing her final game against high school competition on Saturday, she’s eager to move on.
“I’m definitely ready to get into the summer a little bit more and start working hard,” she said. “Everything has worked out just as I wanted to. I couldn’t imagine anything better.”
Meanwhile, it wasn’t the best of days for the Division 1 South girls. Eight players hit three-point shots for the North, which pulled away from a 24-20 edge with a 30-7 outburst in the second quarter.
Samantha Barber, a 5-10 guard/forward from Schofield Everest and a Winona State recruit, led the North with 24 points. Adrian Richtie, an AP first-team all-state selection from De Pere and a UW-Green Bay recruit, added 17.
Liz Neary of Cedarburg led the South with 13 points.
Janesville Craig’s Mark Marsden coached the South, which also included former Craig standout Whitney Storbakken, who plans to play at UW-La Crosse. She went 1-of-3 on field-goal attempts for three points.
NORTH 97, SOUTH 71
North (97)—Samantha Barber 8-21 2-2 24, Adrian Ritchie 5-11 6-6 17, Samantha Price 5-9 1-2 14, Claire Steffen 5-8 2-3 14, Emily Newman 3-3 0-0 7, Ellie Pearson 1-12 4-4 6, Megan Wenig 2-9 0-0 5, Heather Kessler 2-5 0-0 4, Emily Decorah 1-8 0-0 3, Marlee Arneson 1-2 1-2 3, Totals: 33-88 16-19 97.
South (71)—Liz Neary 4-8 2-2 13, Sarina Simmons 5-8 2-6 12, Catie O’Leary 3-13 4-4 10, Keira Al-Mohareb 2-4 5-6 9, Rachel Story 3-11 1-1 8, Leslie Schaefer 4-6 0-0 8, Stephanie Running 1-4 2-4 4, Whitney Storbakken 1-3 0-0 3, Krissie Fehly 0-1 2-2 2, Aly Bucierka 1-2 0-0 2, Totals: 24-60 18-25 71.
North 24 30 27 16—97
South 20 7 23 21—71
Three-point goals—North 15-32 (Barber 6-11, Price 3-4, Steffen 2-2, Wenig 1-4, Ritchie 1-2, Newman 1-1, Decorah 1-6, Kessler 0-2) , South 5-21 (Neary 3-5, Story 1-4, Storbakken 1-2, Fehly 0-1, O’Leary 0-6, Bucierka 0-1, Simmons 0-2). Rebounds—North 57 (Newman 13), 1 South 40 (Simmons 8). Assists—North 14 (Wenig 3, Arneson 3), South 7 (Neary 2, Running 2) . Total fouls—North 21, South 14. Fouled out—Ritchie, Barber, Running.