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Kearney senior ‘hungry’ after missed season

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For Kaitlyn Rose last year, the pain of sitting out and watching her Bishop Kearney girls’ basketball team from the sidelines was secondary only to the pain in her knee. On Jan. 10, very early in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens league season, Rose tore her ACL and was ruled out for the rest of the year.

“I was sitting there [on the bench] thinking, ‘If I was in there, I could have done this, I could have done that,’” Rose said. “I was out a year, so now I have to make it up.”

A good rebounder with a solid jump shot, she would have been a strong contributor in a very tough division.

“She was miserable last year,” teammate Christina Hiltunen said. “She’s a key player for us.”

Rose’s return is just one of the reasons coach Cathy Crockett is confident about the 2008-09 season. The Tigers have three integral seniors – Rose, Hiltunen and Caitlyn Furlong, a handful of talented underclassmen and more depth than they have had in awhile.

“We have a lot of balance,” Crockett said.

Sometimes when there are senior holdovers, they can be apprehensive about emerging, young talent. After all, no one wants to lose his or her spot. But the Kearney seniors have been very accommodating and have done well taking the youngsters under their wings, Crockett said.

“The underclassmen have really been proving themselves,” Furlong said. “They’re equals in my eyes.”

Furlong, who said the team “has good chemistry,” is a major key due to her size – 5-feet-10 – and ability. Crockett has been impressed about how hard she has worked to get to her current level of play.

“She came a long way last year,” the coach said.

Kearney finished fifth out of six teams in Brooklyn/Queens last year and lost to Bishop Ford in the playoff quarterfinals to end its season. This year, things will be a little different with a brand new format for the CHSAA state tournament. Even if they don’t finish in the upper echelon of the very tough division, the Tigers have a shot at making it the state Federation tournament in Glens Falls as an ‘A’ team, much like Christ the King did last season.

Crockett doesn’t have that surefire Division I talent like she has had in the past, while most other Brooklyn/Queens squads have one or more players who will go on to the highest college level. The new state playoff format could give Kearney new life.

“It gives you a chance to not have your season end so early,” Crockett said.

Rose knows all about that feeling. Her junior season was cut way too short. Chances are she’ll be doing everything in her power to keep Kearney playing as long as it possibly can.

“I think,” Crockett said, “she’s hungry.”

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