Shot at new heights: Crothersville standout picks Eastern Illinois

CROTHERSVILLE

Growing up in Crothersville, Katrina Christian dreamed of playing Division I college basketball.

That dream turned into reality Thursday morning. Christian signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Eastern Illinois University, located in Charleston, Ill.

“I decided to go there because I’ve always had high dreams to go to a Division I college,” Christian said. “I think that’s what pushed me in the gym and everything to get me to excel better and in the basketball aspect.

“I think the reason I chose Eastern is because it made me comfortable. The coaches, the staff and players all had a good air about them. When they offered, I was like, ‘This is where I want to go.’ It made me feel like I was at home away from home.”

The Crothesville senior visited the campus twice and she plans to attend a women’s game there this winter.

One of Christian’s strongest assets is her speed in games.

Christian said doing drills working on her quickness has made her a better player.

“I think a lot of it stems from my quickness and power mostly, like explosiveness,” she said. “I’ve been working on that a lot with people, especially Kevin (Hensley) and Chris (Mains, assistant coach) and my AAU coach. They’ve helped me developed me over the years, getting me to not only to use my left hand, but get to my right a lot more.

“I really like to take the ball to the hole more than anything. I can definitely shoot mid-range, shoot a 3 anywhere, but I feel my strong point would be taking it to the basket. I feel my defense has come a long way since my freshman year. I’ve gotten quicker, stronger. I can stop anybody if I put my mind to, I feel like.

Hensley, head girls basketball coach, thinks Christian can play for Eastern Illinois.

“I think she’s fit right in (at EIU),” Hensley said. “She’ll be able to help them at guard because she’s such a good defender. She usually takes our best defensive role. She’ll take the top player from the other team.

Christian has been named a All-Southern Athletic Conference athlete in three sports for the Tigers.

She won the 100- and 200-yard dashes in the SAC track meet her freshman and sophomore years and was All-SAC in basketball last winter and also in volleyball this fall.

“I think basketball is my favorite sport because it’s never really burned me out,” Christian said. “I’ve always had the passion for it. It’s about the team, and it teaches you lessons that you can take into your adult life with you.”

In her free time, Christian spends most of her time on the hardwood.

“I feel like it’s prepared me more to go out there and actually commit to something,” Christian said. “I’ve always been completely committed to basketball. I think it’s because my freshman year, after my AAU coach, Steve Springer died, I think it opened a door for me to actually push myself harder and not stop. He actually developed that passion and that love for the game in me after my eighth-grade year.”

She helped her current AAU team win a tournament in Louisville last summer.

One of Christian’s biggest improvements on the court is her shooting.

“Her shooting has developed every year, and this year it’s come even more to the forefront,” Hensley said. “Teams can’t just stand in the lane and just try to stop her. They have to come out and get her.”

He said he feels like she does have a strong half-court game.

“As far as our high school team, she can play any position,” Hensley said. “She can play the center position if we need her to because she’s strong, and she can play a guard position because she is so quick. She’s got the all-around game on the high school level.”

Through five games this season Christian had scored 93 points for an average of 18.6 with a high-game of 23 against Southwestern (Hanover).

Christian has scored 1,140 for her career to rank third on the Crothersville career list behind Sarah Turner (1,152) and Brooke Prather (1,165).

She has scored 20 or more points 17 times with her career highs being 29 against Edinburgh, 28 versus Henryville and 24 over West Washington.

“I’ve enjoyed the (CHS) coaches, the team,” Christian said. “They’ve all made me feel like this is home. I’ve had people ask me why I don’t go to a bigger school. It’s because I love it here, I fit in. Everybody here knows you. They are supportive and they come out to our games.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity (to) actually be able to say I went to a D1 school from such a tiny school. I will never forget anybody from here.”

Christian said she would like to improve her outside shooting and ball-handling.

The 3-point line in high school is 18-feet-9 and in college it is 19-9.

Hensley said that Christian has made the program proud.

“This shows that it doesn’t matter what school you’re at, if you work you can make it to the next level,” he said.

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Arv Koontz is a sports correspondent for The (Seymour) Tribune.