GRANITE CITY — Catherine Jakich wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Memorial Gymnasium.
“I don’t think I’m ready to go,” the Granite City senior said.
Jakich played in her final regular season home game of her high school basketball career on Tuesday against East St. Louis and turned in a solid effort, scoring 10 points, including seven in the first half. But the effort didn’t help the Warriors celebrate a victory as the Flyers cruised to a 55-32 win over Granite City.
“I think we came out really tough and we were ready to fight,” Jakich said. “We gave it our all.”
Jakich and the Warriors have an opportunity to play another home game. All they have to do is win the Class 4A Alton Regional.
Granite City is the No. 5 seed and will play fourth-seeded Quincy in a first-round game at 7 p.m. Monday at Alton High School in Godfrey. The winner plays top-seeded Edwardsville in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m excited,” Jakich said. “Our first game is against Quincy, so hopefully, we’ll come out and do our best and fight and hopefully, we’ll get a W and go on to play Edwardsville and do our best against them.”
The regional title game is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 19. The regional champion advances to play the O’Fallon Regional champion at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 in a Class 4A Pekin Sectional semifinal game at Granite City’s Memorial Gymnasium.
The Warriors, who haven’t won a regional championship since 2004, will take a 2-23 record into their game with Quincy on Monday. They had wins over Confluence out of St. Louis and the West Central junior varsity team.
“Every day, we come out and we know we have to practice hard,” Jakich said. “We have two big players injured this season, so that really hurt us. It hurt our finesse. We came out and did our very best.”
Jakich is enjoying an outstanding three-year high school basketball career. In her junior season, she averaged a team-high 12 points per game and earned the team’s Most Valuable Player honors. This season, she’s averaging 14 points and six rebounds per game.
“We’re glad to have her out there for sure,” Granite City senior Malori Meador said. “If we didn’t, we would be in some trouble. You can’t ask anything else out of her. She’s giving it all she can.”
On Tuesday against East St. Louis, Jakich scored in double digits for the 21st time this season. She scored a season-high 27 points against the West Central junior varsity team in the Carrollton Tournament in January.
“She struggled a little bit tonight and she has to realize what’s working and what’s not,” first-year Granite City coach Whitney Sykes-Rogers said. “She needs to figure that out. But she’s a very strong player. She’s been our horse all year. She’s our leading scorer and leading rebounder. There are times when she’s the best player on the floor. That’s where she needs to realize that she can stay there the whole game. She needs some shots to fall. I feel like her shots have been off this year, so that’s frustrating her more than anything. But she has to realize that she can score in other ways.”
Jakich credits Sykes-Rogers and former head coach Raffi Karibian for her outstanding high school basketball career. Karibian headed the program for four seasons before Sykes took over this season.
“When I came here, coach Karibian was amazing to me,” said Jakich, who started playing basketball when she was in second grade at St. Elizabeth School in Granite City. “I was so excited to have him as my coach. Coach Sykes has been wonderful this year. I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to step up and never give up on us this season.”
Jakich joined the Granite City girls' basketball program in her sophomore year. She transferred to Granite City from Marquette Catholic midway through her freshman year.
“I think coming here was a big adjustment,” Jakich said. “I came from a small Catholic grade school (St. Elizabeth) to a small Catholic high school (Marquette) to a big 4A school (Granite City). It’s been wonderful. I really love it here and I couldn’t have asked for a better place to be to spend my last three years playing basketball.”
Jakich is playing for a large senior class that includes Meador, Melanie Joyce, Abbie Daily, Lexi Dreste, Alina Viteri and Katie Bloodworth. All of them were honored before Tuesday’s game with East St. Louis.
“Most of us have been together since we were fifth or sixth grade, so to play together for this long, it’s sad it’s finally coming to an end,” Jakich said. “It’s something you don’t think it would happen, but finally it’s here and it has come so fast.”