Preparation meets opportunity

Ally McConnell

MICHIGAN CITY — Success, as the old saying goes, is where preparation meets opportunity.

As the only returning Marquette girls basketball player who scored in the 2019 Class A state championship game, Blazers senior Ally McConnell, is excited for her time to shine.

"I think I'm mentally prepared, physically, I'm prepared," she said Friday during practice at the Scholl Center. "I'm just ready for the season to start so I can show what I can do without everybody."

The 5-foot-10 forward, who will slot into Sophia Nolan's four position, has some big shoes to fill indeed. She saw most of her playing time on JV as a freshman and sophomore before settling in last year as an energy player coming off the bench for Marquette. She played in all 29 games, averaging 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds, while shooting at a 51 percent clip.

She certainly won't be coming off the bench anymore, but the spirited, hard-nosed style of play will remain for McConnell.

"That's just how I play," she said. "I'm still going to do that."

For those who don't know what else McConnell can do on a basketball court, she looks to show a perimeter aspect of her game that was outside of her role previously. None of her 93 shots last season were from the arc.

"Hopefully I can shoot 3s so I can get my scoring up," she said. "In middle school (at Nativity in Portage), I used to shoot a lot of 3s and I used to make most of them."

Blazers coach Katie Collignon is ready to turn McConnell loose.

"Ally in the post is a big presence," Collignon said. "She was underrated the past couple years because she never was the No. 1 scorer. She's definitely very skilled in that position. She's following in the footsteps of some great scorers. I think she's ready to step up and make a big impact right away. I'm excited to give her the ball a lot, to see her do a lot of things. I think Ryleigh (Grott) will be a good buddy for her in the post."

Roles will be different for everyone, given the massive turnover on the roster, and McConnell, as the sole senior, is helping her new teammates navigate those uncharted waters.

"My teammates come to me, ask me questions," she said. "I just do whatever I can to help, tell them where to go, who to pass it to. I've seen us starting to be one team. Part of basketball is working together. I think we've made a difference in the last week. We know what we can do."

While the bar isn't set at a state title anymore, McConnell wants to help show that the Blazers aren't going to fall completely off the basketball map.

"We're not going to be as good as last year, but we'll still be good enough to win games and not lose as many games as people think," she said.

A volleyball player in the fall and a softball player in the spring, the year-long standout looks to continue playing sports in college, with hoops being the least likely of the three.

"This is probably my last year of playing basketball," McConnell said. "I've been playing since I was 5. I'm so sorry it's going to be over."

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