CEDAR LAKE | First, it was Jordan Kramer, a fast, basketball-conscious guard at Hanover Central that helped the Wildcats dominate the postseason.
Then, it was Blayr Poston, a fast, constant shooter and guard at Hanover Central who could steal with speed and set the school record for points.
Now, it's Brooke Sterkowitz. The sophomore is a perfect combination of her predecessors, a thoughtful shooter with a ton of on-court confidence.
"We've been fortunate to have good guards and she's the next one in line," Hanover Central coach Doug Nelson said. "In some aspects, she's more advanced as a sophomore than Jordan or Blayr."
Unlike Kramer and Poston, Sterkowitz didn't start as much as a freshman. Instead she spent the time learning the system and gaining that epic confidence. The junior varsity last season lost one game.
The Wildcats will play in their first Greater South Shore Conference Tournament with a quarterfinal game at 5:30 p.m. today at Whiting.
"It's just about confidence," Sterkowitz said. "We know going into the tournament that these are good teams and could be a rough game, but it's good competition. The more confidence we have, if we know we're feeling good, that can carry over."
In the summer, Sterkowitz played for not one, but two AAU teams, traveling around the state and the country as she practiced her shot and defense.
She leads her team with 12.2 points per game and has hit 18 3-pointers, including five last week against Bishop Noll. She adds 2.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game, unafraid to give up the ball or race to find it.
She also spends extra time working to add more skills.
"We've had discussions about not being confused with being in the gym as improving," Nelson said. "She works hard when she's there and the team sees that. She's playing well and she's improving."
Finding the anchor to her determination isn't difficult.
Sterkowitz hopes to become a physical therapist, having spent time in her career sidelined with injury.
Sterkowitz tore her meniscus in sixth grade, and injured an ankle in the eighth grade. She said she also cracked her head open during an AAU trip, and once broke her nose.
"I know that injuries are tough on athletes," Sterkowitz said. "I know the urge to get back. When you get hurt, you want to get back right away. I want to help move the process along."