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Annie McKenna keeping Trinity on a tear

No one should have been surprised Trinity’s Annie McKenna rebounded her own missed free throw, got fouled going back to the basket and made the next two free throws to help the short-handed Blazers defeat Bolingbrook at Saturday’s Chi-Town Showdown at Young.

Even if she’s generously listed at 5-4.

“The missed free throw?” she asked. “I know where it goes every time.”

Trinity is going places, too, with McKenna at the helm. Even with starters Lauren Lee, Christine Olijnyk, Daliyah Brown and deep reserve freshman Alisa Fallon unavailable due to injury and illness, the No. 4 Blazers were able to withstand the stubborn Raiders 65-60 in two overtimes to improve to 9-0.

“I love the fact that I don’t know another team in the state of Illinois that can have three starters out and still compete at the level we do,” Trinity coach Eddie Stritzel said.

Trinity survived because of McKenna, who was able to handle Bolingbrook’s pressure, run an offense with players going in and out of the game with foul trouble and still score 18 points before exiting with her fifth foul in the second overtime.

“There’s no one I’d rather have the ball in her hands all the time, 24/7,” Stritzel said. “She was mad at herself that she missed those first two free throws, but I had so much confidence in her. I believe Annie is, if not one of the top five players in Illinois, she’s right there.”

The youngest of five children, McKenna was born to be a point guard. Her brother and three sisters were all point guards on their high school teams.

“I’ve been around basketball since Day 1,” she said. “I always went to my sisters’ practices. They’re all the same height as me and they all played point guard, although it’s pretty funny that they all went to separate schools. [Playing point guard] is pretty natural to me.”

McKenna, a three-year varsity starter, shared the backcourt with DePaul freshman and Sun-Times All-Area selection Lauren Prochaska the past two years. She tries to pass on the lessons she learned from Prochaska and her predecessors to the seven freshmen and sophomores on the current roster.

“[The older players] just try to do what we’ve been taught, what they taught us and pass it on to the younger players,” McKenna said. “If they get mad or anything, or if they have foul trouble or get mad about their shot, I tell them to keep going, you’re fine, don’t give up.

“Sometimes they get a little scared because of the crowd or who we’re playing, but I try to settle them down. They’re growing. They’re learning fast. We’re still a work in progress, but we’ve come a long way since summer.”

McKenna has come a long way since her freshman year.

“I’m just nuts about her,” Stritzel said. “She just a junior, too. She makes our team go, and I hope that games like Bolingbrook prove to Annie that when we get our kids back, we’re going to be a tough out.”