Kacie Carollo felt she had a lot to prove this past season.
Was the Whitewater High senior good enough to play at UW-Whitewater, or was she simply going there because her mother is the head coach and her father an assistant coach?
Turns out her mother, Keri, knew exactly how good Kacie was. Living under the same roof was irrelevant.
Kacie put together a fantastic senior season. She led the Rock Valley Conference in scoring at 22.0 points per game and helped lead the Whippets into a WIAA Division 2 regional final game. She set three program records, including most points in a single season with 506, which was the 11th-most in the state this past season. She also set the program mark for most free throws made with 125 and most 3s made with 51.
“Signing with Whitewater back in September took some pressure off of me, but I still felt like I had to go out and show people what I was capable of,” Kacie Carollo said. “I didn’t want anyone to think I was going there just because of mom and dad.
“And it was the last chance to play with my friends and for my school, so I wanted to go all out.”
For her efforts, Carollo is The Gazette’s 2020-21 area girls basketball player of the year. She was also named the Rock Valley’s player of the year and earned first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year.
Carollo worked hard on several aspects of her game during the offseason. She wanted to prove to herself, and to her mother, as well, that she was an all-around player and not strictly a shooter. She didn’t want to be labeled as one-dimensional.
She worked hard on her ball handling skills, playing through contact and improving her free-throw shooting while playing all summer with the Wisconsin Academy AAU team.
“Probably more than anything, I worked really hard on being a facilitator of the basketball and bringing the ball up in transition,” Carollo said. “I want to be able to contribute any way I can (at UW-Whitewater), whether that means playing the point or a shooting guard.”
Carollo was a model of consistency offensively during the high school season. She scored in double figures in 21 of 22 games and had four games of at least 31 points.
“Kacie has tremendous talent and a basketball IQ that is exceptional for a typical high school player,” Whitewater coach Kristen Lippens said. “She can orchestrate an offense and create scoring opportunities for herself, as well as her teammates. Her ballhandling, ability to attack the rim and consistent scoring from the perimeter made her difficult to stop offensively.”
Brodhead coach Brian Kammerer, whose team played Whitewater twice this season and eight times over the last four seasons, was impressed with Carollo’s play.
“Kacie’s basketball IQ showed every time we faced her,” Kammerer said. “She was always at the top of our scouting report and a complete gamechanger when she was on the floor.
“I believe she will make an immediate impact next year at the collegiate level.”
Carollo said playing under strict COVID-19 guidelines was difficult, at times, but tolerable. She said playing with a mask on was not ideal, but simply playing 23 games in a season in which no one knew if any games would happen made it worthwhile.
As the daughter of the women’s head basketball coach at UW-Whitewater, Carollo has been around the Warhawks’ program her whole life.
Not surprisingly, going to college there and playing for her mother was not too tough of a choice, although she said her parents never once pressured her into playing basketball or going to school there.
“They didn’t put any pressure on me, but they did instill the passion I have for basketball,” Kacie said of her mother and father, Joe. “Their passion for it has fueled me.”
Carollo has already begun getting acclimated to the UW-Whitewater program. She’s the official floor sweeper at halftime of the women’s home games.
“I’m usually shaking when I’m out there sweeping because I see the energy and enthusiasm the team has, and I want to be out there playing so bad,” Carollo said. “I can’t wait for next year and to be a part of that great program.”
A successful program that will welcome another Carollo into the mix.