BLOOMINGTON - With a strong inside game complemented by an equally effective outside attack, the Bloomington High School girls basketball team keeps the opposition guessing.
Putting it together on a consistent basis is the only drawback for the Purple Raiders.
"We beat ourselves," said BHS junior center Kristin Petrinec. "Some kids come to play on different nights. If we can all bring our 'A' game on the same night, I don't think anyone can beat us."
The Big 12 Conference co-champion Raiders (16-8) are poised to make a deep postseason run entering the Streator Class AA Regional, which begins today.
Third-seed BHS will face No. 13 LaSalle-Peru or No. 19 Streator at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals. If the Raiders can avoid an upset, on Friday they would face No. 5 Prairie Central or No. 9 Pontiac in the 7:30 p.m. championship game.
"We have size with Kristin on the inside, and Beth Current is a ton down low and gets a lot of put-backs for points," said second-year BHS coach Sondra Vogel. "We have quickness in our guards and we have the ability to shoot from the outside.
"I feel like we have all the pieces to be competitive down the road. It's just can we get all five kids playing on the same page."
The 6-foot-2 Petrinec, who is being recruited by Missouri, Illinois-Chicago and Drake, among others, averages a team-high 12.7 points per game and 5.8 blocked shots, and is second in rebounds with 8.9.
Petrinec, whose older sister Ashley plays volleyball at Southern Mississippi, has posted eight double-doubles and recorded 11 blocks in a win over Normal West and a loss to Geneseo.
"Kristin was named the best defender at Missouri's elite camp last summer," Vogel said. "They like her length, the ability she has to run the floor and her shooting touch. She knows (playing at the Division I level) is a lofty goal to strive for."
Senior co-captain Current, a Division I softball prospect, averages 6.7 points and a team-high 9.5 rebounds. Sharpshooting junior guard Kelly Carter has drawn Division I attention, averaging 11.8 points while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 43 percent from 3-point range.
Rounding out the starting lineup are senior guards and co-captains Lovie McClom (6.3 ppg) and Shelby Parker (6.0 ppg), who will play softball at Parkland College. The top reserves are Venus Black and sisters Cherelle and Kendra Gay.
"We feel pretty good," Parker said. "We have to make sure we put four quarters together and play hard. That's been our focus all year. We try to do a little bit of everything and catch people off guard."
The Raiders got off to a slow start, with losses to Central Catholic and University High in the season-opening Intercity Tournament. They rebounded quickly and posted an impressive double-digit road victory over state-ranked Champaign Central to earn a tie for the Big 12 mark with the Maroons at 12-1.
"We had our differences in the beginning of the season, but now we're a stronger team," McClom said. "When we're all working together we have some big weapons. We're just a good all-around team. Team ball is our motto."
BHS has been pointing toward the postseason after being upset by Lincoln in last year's regional title game.
"My father (Ron Sisson) passed away on Valentine's Day last season, and the last two weeks of the season I was not here with the kids," Vogel said. "My assistants were running the team, and I would meet them at the regional for the games.
"It was an emotional couple of weeks, and that's not how you want to finish your first year of coaching. We have unfinished business, and we talked about it all summer. This year we want the hardware."