"I was brand new to the team this year, and coming in this summer, everything was different. When I first moved here, Coach Long didn't have any idea what to expect and I had to learn everything: the plays, how we did things, offense, defense,"
It was apparent from day one: Torie Conover's senior season at Central-Southeastern wasn't going to be what you'd call 'average'. After transferring in from Murphysboro, Conover had her work cut out for her last summer.
"I came in here and didn't have any fundamentals - it was almost like streetball. Coach Long took the time and taught me all of the fundamentals; shooting, dribbling, everything,"
She took on the task of polishing her game in the pre-season, but perhaps her biggest challenge wasn't a matter of X's and O's. It was the mental test brought on by early season struggles.
"I really had to step up because at the beginning of the season we went on an 8-game losing streak, and I was sick of losing, honestly. Everyone was sick of losing and we all had to get our hearts into it. Personally, that's where a turning point for me was,"
That's when Conover and her teammates began mounting the charge to a sectional championship appearance. The Panthers bought in, and Torie - once the new girl - was now one of the team's leaders.
"They didn't really know what to expect at first, so I had to earn my respect from them. But it was awesome leading a team like that when everyone falls back on you,"
Consider the transition Torie made in just a matter of months, and its no wonder she was recognized for such a breakout campaign. But she'll be the first to tell you she was merely part of something bigger - a breakout team.
"To come here and have all the girls be so tight was awesome. To be a part of it was the greatest senior year I could ask for,"