ST. JOHN | Gina Rubino had the athleticism early to play nearly any sport she wanted.
She was active on the soccer field and shortstop on the softball team. When high school hit, she opted to pick one sport: basketball.
"Basketball was definitely my top sport, it always was," the Lake Central junior guard said. "I enjoyed the action I got out of it and the joy that I got out of it was there where it wasn't in softball and volleyball."
Rubino was in the eighth grade when the Indians won a sectional trophy in 2011. She couldn't wait to celebrate on a court with a trophy of her own.
Last season, Rubino wrote her name on her own sectional title, then led her team in steals and tied for the lead in assists in the regional semifinal loss to Merrillville.
As she showed what kind of offensive option she could be, the coaching staff created offensive plays to make sure the ball ended up in Rubino's hands.
That's how the junior is averaging 13.8 points per game, and 3.3 3-pointers. She had a season-high 19 points against Fishers and drained five 3s against Hamilton Southeastern as the Indians opened the year 3-0 for the first time since 2001-02. L.C. lost to Penn on Saturday, but holds the No. 19 spot in the IBCA all-class top 20.
"She has a really good feel for what we're trying to do offensively and defensively, and become one of our best vocal leaders on the court," coach Marc Urban said. "I think the key is that she has identified what her weaknesses were right after the season last year and then did everything she could to work so that her overall game has improved."
Rubino dedicated her offseason to making her junior year sparkle. She watched tape of the 2012-13 games to learn what to improve, then played basketball sometimes three times a day to implement each technique.
"I wanted to (keep) defense a big thing on and off the ball, and get to the basket more because I knew the shot that teams were going to play out on me, so I didn't want to just rely on my shot," Rubino said. "I wanted to (work to) get to the line more to draw more fouls."
The youngest of three children, and the only girl, Rubino learned some of her defensive techniques in her back yard. The 16-year-old boxes out against her 25- and 18-year-old brothers whenever one of them grabs a ball and drags the others outside to play.
"Gina, she has a really high basketball IQ and she understands the game and understands what we're trying to accomplish," Urban said.
The junior class was one that finished middle school with a 44-0 record over two years. Now that they're in high school, they've lost 19 games in a little more than two seasons.
That they know each other's tendencies and don't have a star-player mentality has helped the Indians reach one of their best starts in a decade.
"There's no question that they're a group, so far, that's willing to share the basketball," Urban said. "I don't think it really matters who scores at the end of the day, and that's a good thing to have."
"It's a bar we've set now and we want to keep building off of it," Rubino said. "We can't look at the past, we want to look at now. We know that we have a chance to build on some good things here, so we want to do that."