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Girls basketball: Merrillville’s Victoria Gaines getting serious looks

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Updated: August 25, 2013 6:39AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Merrillville rising junior Victoria Gaines admitted to playing scared at the beginning of last season, as she recovered from a torn ACL.

With playing time, that fear dwindled and a confident Gaines emerged, gaining the attention of several high-level collegiate programs.

Gaines already has scholarship offers from Michigan State, Purdue and Texas Tech; and was one of 13 area girls invited to the IBCA Girls Underclassman Showcase at Ben Davis High School on Tuesday.

Hannah Albrecht (Crown Point), Jordan Cole (Munster), Kaitlin Doud (Portage), A.J. Downs (Merrillville), Tiajaney Hawkins (East Chicago Central), Jaclyn Heath (LaPorte), Caroline Puntillo (Chesterton), Kaitlyn Steers (Portage), Lauren Stokes (Kankakee Valley), Zoe Wilson (Hobart), Grace Withrow (Valparaiso) and Tara Zlotkowski (Lake Central) also were invited to the event.

“I just want to see how better I’ve gotten through the summer,” said Gaines. “I feel like I’m 100 percent and I’m not scared at all. I’m not scared to go to the bucket, it’s just the same old knee that it was before I tore my ACL.”

Gaines played that way in the IBCA Showcase, often grabbing rebounds, turning and bringing the ball up court, often attacking the rim; while showing solid moves in the post.

Merrillville went 24-2 last season, losing in the regional final to Warsaw. Gaines scored 21 points in each of the Pirates’ two regional games, as she earned second-team all-area honors.

Two key seniors graduated — Dariyan Morris (first team all-area) and Darian Patton (honorable mention), but Merrillville isn’t thinking of allowing a letdown.

“Just because we’re losing a few players, that doesn’t mean that the incoming freshmen can’t know their roles on the team and help us out on the team,” Downs said. “I expect us to be real good this year and I expect us to go far this year.”

Gaines said she doesn’t have a specific timetable set for making a choice on which college to attend, but said Michigan State and Purdue have been in contact most frequently. She’s visited both schools, as well.



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