Girls Basketball

Lebanon’s Emily Reinneck closes out career as small school player of the year

Emily Reinneck will be the first to admit that the 2018-19 Lebanon basketball team didn’t have the athletes it had in her first three years in the Greyhounds program.

This season alone the Greyhounds (22-12), lost four more games than the three previous years combined. Lebanon went 85-8 during a remarkable span capped by a third place finish in the Class 1A State Tournament in 2018..

But led by Reinneck and twin sister Abigail, the Greyhounds success this season still ranks among the top achievements of their high school careers.

“This season was everything I wanted it to be and even more. Last season after losing the three seniors (Kendra Bass, Krista Bass and Madison Schoenfeld), we weren’t expecting a lot coming into this year,” she said. “It was rough in the beginning, especially the first practices But after that everyone put in a lot of hard work and we got so much further than anybody expected us to get.’’

And it was Emily Reinneck who helped lead the way for Lebanon which won its seventh Class 1A regional title in a row and fourth straight Cahokia Coinference-Kaskaskia Division championship.

The News-Democrat Class 1A-2A Player of the Year, Reinneck averaged a career-best 18.2 points per game, shooting 51 percent from the field. She also averaged 5.1 rebounds, 4.6 assists and nearly four steals per game while providing leadership both on and off the court for a basketball-wise young Greyhounds basketball team.

“Emily is a flat out winner. She does whatever it takes to win.’’ Lebanon coach Chad Cruthis said. “Graduating the girls we did a year ago, we had a talk with her and Abigail early in the season about having to carry a large part of the scoring load this season.

Lebanon senior Emily Reinneck. Zia Nizami

“For a player like Emily (and Abigail) who are so unselfish and for the first three years of their careers didn’t have to carry the scoring load, it is a lot to ask as seniors to do that, but they did a tremendous job.’’

Reinneck was an Illinois Basketball Coaches Association first team all-state selection. She was a second team all-state pick a year ago.

The 5-8 Reinneck ends her Greyhounds career as the leading scorer in school history with 1,634 points. A four-time all-conference player, Reinneck also ranks in the top five in rebounds (602), assists (358) and steals (343).

Taught the fundamentals of basketball at a young age by Lebanon coaching legends Dick Ogden and Kerry Allen, Reinneck will continue her basketball career with her twin sister at Greenville University.

“We just felt a close connection with the coaches. It’s an excellent school and I really like the Christian evironment. Plus the basketball program is very good. They won their conference tournament and made the (NCAA) Division III Tournament,’’ Reinneck said. “It’s sad that my Lebanon basketball career is over, but I’m ready and excited to take that next step.

“Greenville plays a fast-paced style and I like that. Plus its great that Abigail and I can go to school together. We’ve been playing sports together our entire lives.’’’

In the Greyhound starting lineup from the opening game of her freshman season to the sectional semifinal as a senior, Reinneck has matured as a player and a person during her four-year high school career.

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Lebanon junior Emily Reinneck guards Schlarman Academy junior Anaya Peoples during the second half of the IHSA Class 1A state semifinals Friday afternoon at Redbird Arena in Normal. Deb Edwards Commercial-News

“My first game my freshman season, I fouled out. It was the only time in four years that I ever fouled out. I remember sitting on the bench and crying,’’ Reinneck recalled. “I feel like we just continued to work hard and improve as the years went on.

“This season was different in a lot of ways. I had to step up and be a leader both on and off the court. In games, we had to shoulder more of the scoring load and that was different as well. I mean you don’t want to be a ball hog, but you have to do what you have to do in order to win games. It was a very good season.’’

At Greenville, there will be many adjustments, including finding a new friend to eat lunch with everyday. For the last several years, the Reinnecks have eaten lunch in Cruthis’ office with their coach.

“Coach Curthis has been like a second father figure to us. We’re very close to him,’’ Reinneck said. “He has taught us and helped us to become better basketball players. But he’s also helped us become better people.’’