Eisenhower’s Seven Sassano has been the key player for the Panthers the last couple of years. The senior is looking to expand her game for next season.

H&R file photo

Eisenhower's girls basketball history is dominated by guards, those who can slash into the paint or hit the outside shot.

Seven Sassano is bucking those trends.

Heading into her senior year, the post player has totaled 887 rebounds and 779 points -- very close to becoming the first player in Panthers' recorded history to achieve 1,000 in both categories.

And just as she's closing in on uncharted territory, she's looking to change it up.

"I want to expand my game a little bit," she said. "So I'm looking to become a shooter and going maybe a little further than 10-foot shots because we have some tall girls this year."

The paint has been where Sassano has excelled -- figuring out where to pull down the rebound, then execute the putback. But with 6-footers like Kyla Jones and newcomer Mya Oliver to the team, the Panthers have plenty of size. And that's why the place Sassano sets up shop on the court may be in a different spot next year.

It's been a couple years where Eisenhower's gone through a rebuilding phase. Much of that has come on a reliance on Sassano to provide much of the production, and defenses haven't give her much of a chance to breathe.

But now with some young players able to relieve a little bit of the pressure, Sassano's looking to transform her game during the summer to turn the tables back on opposing defenses. She's been working with the gun to practice shooting, in spots where it's harder for defenses to collapse around her.

"I don't know if 3-pointer is in the picture, but something around there," she said.

But don't expect her to move permanently.

"I'm still going to be working with the posts," she said. "They're tall, but young and they need some more help being aggressive. Coach talked to me about that and working with them a little bit. I'm trying to be more than just a post."

That aggressiveness, or perhaps more accurately, her competitive drive is easily apparent. In a summer game where Eisenhower was missing a few starters and development was far more important than points, Sassano still left frustrated by the outcome.

"She's very competitive, which is a good thing that you have to reel her in sometimes," Eisenhower coach Sean Flaherty said. "That's not a bad thing. It's easier to reel someone back than to get them motivated.

"I've been coaching for more than 20 years and she's one of my favorite players I've ever had. Because of that competitive drive. She cares, and she cares about the school, she cares about her teammates. She cares more about Eisenhower basketball, and she wants us to be successful. What more can you ask for?"

Flaherty sees that as a tool to help develop Eisenhower's next group, which includes two freshmen that started varsity last year. Behind them is more talent he's encouraged about.

That's a role Sassano's comfortable with, drawing from experience of being on student council and other organizations outside of the basketball court.

It helps that Sassano experienced that first-hand as well.

"Devon Thaxton, she had 1,000 points my freshman year and she's always been someone I've looked up to," Sassano said. "So when she did that, I was like, that's what I want to do."

Young collects another award

It's back-to-back for KD Young.

The Warrensburg-Latham thrower collected her second Gatorade Illinois Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year award on Thursday. The incoming University of South Carolina freshman

The award also takes into account performance in the classroom -- Young graduated with a 4.93 GPA.

In receiving the award, Young will be able to choose a youth sports organization to receive a $1,000 grant.

Condill takes helm

There will be a familiar face in a new role for Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond's girls basketball program after Mac Condill was named the new coach.

"It just seemed like a natural progression with Craig (Moffett) moving on," Condill told the Mattoon Journal Gazette/Time Courier.

Condill was hired by the ALAH school board Wednesday after spending the last four seasons as the assistant coach under Moffett, who will teach at Stewardson-Strasburg High School next year.

"We are really excited about him taking over," ALAH athletics director Jared Vanausdoll said. "He is a big part of the community (owner and operator of The Great Pumpkin Patch with his wife Ginny). His character and leadership are going to help the program."|(217) 421-6978


Sports Writer

Sports Writer for the Herald & Review.

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