GREEN BAY — Before Allie LeClaire ever made a basket for Notre Dame, she dreamt about being great.
Now a senior, LeClaire is embarking on the final chapter of her high school career before she laces up her shoes for Kevin Borseth and UW-Green Bay.
“It’s really funny, me and my step-dad we’re just talking about the other day how the first time I walked into the gym and I looked up on the banner and said I want to be up there really bad one day,” LeClaire recalls. “So, I think it’s just cool to look back at all the memories, all the practices and hard work this program has given me and I’m extremely excited that my career’s coming to an end. I think it was a good ride.”
LeClaire, who has scored a school-record 1,395 points, tops on that banner, wasn’t a secret when she was a freshman. Her current coach, Sara Rohde, was the JV coach then and remembers what she saw.
“I knew Allie was a special player her freshman year,” Rohde said. “It was nice I was able to coach her as the JV coach and now as the varsity coach as well. It’s been nice to see her grow and improve every year.”
Rohde has some things in common with LeClaire. Rohde played for Borseth at Green Bay, where she became a 1,000-point scorer, and Rohde is the only head coach LeClaire has had in high school. Also, they both can hit the 3-pointer.
They have experienced a lot in the last four seasons and most of it has been good.
“We just have had a very good relationship,” Rohde said. “This year, I think she’s developed into a great leader. Every year I feel like our relationship has changed because of what I’ve expected and how she has matured as a player and person. It’s been a lot of fun working with her.”
“Sara’s helped me a lot,” LeClaire said. “I can always count on her for words of advice. I know when I’m at Green Bay she’ll have a few words of encouragement.”
LeClaire led Notre Dame to the Division 2 state title last season, averages 20.1 points per game and has led the Tritons to a 21-1 record as they open the postseason Friday at home against Marinette. Furthermore, she is looking to lead Notre Dame to a third straight state tournament appearance.
When talking about the state tournament, she smiles about the possibility of repeating as a state champ.
“That would mean the world, especially with this team this year,” she said. “There’s something special about this team. I love knowing we have a game tomorrow or the next day and I have another opportunity to play with all of them.
“It would definitely be exciting to hold up another gold ball at the Resch Center, but we’ll just see what happens.”
As great as LeClaire has been, she knows she hasn’t done it alone. Her teammate, Eliza Campbell, who will play at UW-Oshkosh next season, has been a key player.
Campbell is averaging 13.4 ppg. and provides the Tritons with inside scoring and rebounding. It’s common to see these two connect with each other for fast-break baskets, usually with LeClaire supplying the pass.
And as well as they play together on the court, they’re close off it. Campbell said it’s been great playing with LeClaire.
“It’s just been fun,” Campbell said. “We kind of know where each other is all the time. On top of that, we go off of each other when we do well. If someone else isn’t doing well, we always pick each other up.
“If I’m having a bad game I know she’s going to pick it up. If she’s having a bad game, I’ll Just try to get her looks, get her rebounds, whatever it is, so it’s just been fun. We work so well together.
“I guess I’m excited to see how she does next year, because I know she’ll do great.”
Next year, though, can wait for a while. LeClaire and the Tritons are only thinking about one thing — a repeat.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay