BELLEVILLE — Finally, there is some good news for the Southwestern Illinois College women's basketball program.
Decimated in recent weeks by injuries and players leaving his program, Blue Storm coach Mike Juenger announced Tuesday that former Belleville West standout Erika McCaster is the newest member of the 2013-14 squad.
The leading scorer in Belleville West girls basketball history with 1,925 career points, McCaster started classes on Monday and will be eligible to play when the second semester begins in January.
"It's a huge signing for us,'' Juenger said. "Erika is a good kid who has had to deal with some things, but she's back in school and we're glad to have her here (SWIC) and on this basketball team.
"I watched her play the other day and she can flat out shoot the basketball," Juenger said. "On this team which has a lot of girls who like to shoot the 3's, she'll fit right in.
The 2011 News-Democrat Co-Player of the year along with Caty Ponce of Edwardsville, McCaster was a four-year starter for coach Clayton Fisher's Belleville West squad and averaged 22.1 points a game as a senior while leading the Maroons to a 20-12 season.
McCaster had 77 3-point field goals and 112 steal during her senior season at West. She originally signed with Eastern Michigan University but also attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Shreveport, Juenger said.
Currently, McCaster just has one semester of eligibility remaining at SWIC, but Juenger plans to petition the NCAA for another year.
McCaster's signing comes at a most opportune time for the Blue Storm which seemingly had its roster set until being hit by defections and the injury bug.
Juenger announced last week that sophomore Adrianna McNeal will sit out the season and 6-foot-2 Brea Gegg will be out until at least November with a leg injury. In addition, sophomore Megkinzie Carter has opted not to play this season and sophomore Bailey Setzekorn has chosen to concentrate on softball this school year.
Juenger did sign another superb 3-point shooter in former Freeburg standout Taylor Poindexter last week. Juenger is also hopeful that one or two more players may still be added by the end of this week.
"We're working with the University of Louisville and Murray State about them still placing a player in here for this year,'' Juenger said. "We've got 11 kids which is much better then nine. Hopefully something will still break in the next couple of days.''
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or firstname.lastname@example.org