MORGAN TWP. | For a high school athlete, losing an entire season of eligibility for reasons beyond her control can be heartbreaking.
When Brianna Leuck moved from Washington Township to Morgan Township after her freshman year, IHSAA transfer rules forced the shooting guard to miss her sophomore season of competition. It was hard to swallow, but Leuck made the most of her time on the bench.
“It was definitely tough. When I heard I had to sit out an entire year, it took a lot out of me not to quit basketball all together,” Leuck said, “but it definitely made me a better player because I got to see the game from the sidelines.”
Rather than become discouraged while watching the Cherokees win their first sectional title in six years, Leuck immersed herself in the role of student-coach, offering pointers to her teammates and learning the game from a different perspective. Now a senior, she is an offensive force for Times No. 9 Morgan Twp.
“In the two years that she’s been eligible to play for us, she has added an outside shooting factor that our team had been missing,” Cherokees coach Kevin Krieger said.” She’s a great complement to Trina Coleman. Trina is more of a penetrator and Brianna gets a lot of open shots off of the penetration in our offense.”
Krieger believes that watching from the sidelines as Morgan Twp. won the sectional title motivated Leuck to work harder once she became eligible to compete. That hard work paid off for Leuck and the Cherokees when they repeated as sectional champions last season.
Now, with the Cherokees looking to win a third consecutive sectional title for the first time in school history, Krieger knows the 3-point specialist will be a key to the team’s postseason success.
“She’s going to play a large role in how successful we are,” Krieger said. “When she is hitting her shots, we are difficult to defend.”
Leuck set a school record with 33 3-pointers made last season and would like to top that number this year. Committed to play college ball at Holy Cross College, she hopes to first make another run in the IHSAA tournament.
“We definitely want to get a third (straight) sectional title. It has never happened in school history,” Leuck said. “We’d really like to … get farther than regionals. Definitely, we want to set a tone that we’re the team to beat in sectionals.”
Despite having just two seasons of eligibility at Morgan Twp., Leuck has made a major impact on the program. Her legacy would grow even larger if the Cherokees are able to claim the sectional trifecta.
“I think she came into our program and improved as a player and she improved our team,” Krieger said. “She was one of the major factors in why we won the sectional last year. I think in the next couple weeks, if we are fortunate enough to advance again, I think you’re going to find that she’s going to be a big part of that, too.”