Injuries slowed down sisters Kateri and Cheyenne Trilling last season. They refused to let that happen again this time around.
The sisters have helped the Verona girls basketball team (22-2) earn a share of the Big Eight Conference championship, the No. 2 seeding in the Sun Prairie sectional and a showdown with Middleton (20-4) in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal at 7 tonight in Waunakee.
The winner will meet Big Eight co-champ Janesville Craig (23-3) or Madison Memorial (10-14) in a sectional final at 1 p.m. Saturday in Sun Prairie, with the sectional champion advancing to the state tournament next week at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
The two starting guards from last season’s Verona team were lost to graduation, meaning the Trillings were expected to step in immediately after rehabilitation from tears in their anterior cruciate ligaments.
Kateri Trilling, a 5-foot-6 senior, tore her ACL in early June following her sophomore season. Cheyenne Trilling, a 5-7 junior, suffered a similar injury just a few weeks later.
Enduring the injury and rehabilitation process together helped the sisters get through the difficult times.
“Having us together, being there at the same time, really helped the process,” Cheyenne said. “Just knowing we weren’t alone, and we always had someone there to help us and see things from a different perspective helped each other.”
Things were going well and looking up for both sisters until Cheyenne sustained a second ACL injury on Jan. 17, 2014.
She had to go through the same long process of rehabilitation mere weeks removed from battling through it the first time.
Kateri played her first competitive basketball the following summer, on her team’s summer league varsity team. Cheyenne wasn’t cleared to compete again until the first day of varsity tryouts last fall.
Playing in each new game builds more and more confidence in each of them and allows them to move past their injuries.
“You forget about it, and you learn so much about how your knee should work and what went wrong before. You do the same movement over and over so your mechanics just become natural (and) you don’t really think about it much as time goes on,” Cheyenne said.
Cheyenne made sure to return slowly to basketball this time because a third ACL tear would likely mean her basketball career is over.
Cheyenne is averaging 8.5 points per game and Kateri is contributing 5.8 points per contest.
The two have been key cogs in a balanced scoring attack that includes 6-2 junior forward Grace Mueller (13 ppg), 6-2 junior forward Kira Opsal (12 ppg) and 6-2 sophomore wing Alex Luehring (11.5 ppg).
The Trilling sisters’ contribution to the Wildcats cannot be overstated, according to Wildcats coach Angie Murphy.
“It’s such a huge difference having them both back and having them both healthy defensively and offensively,” Murphy said. “It’s just been a huge reason why we are 22-2 right now.”
For Cheyenne and Kateri, the season has carried added significance — not just because of their injuries, but because they may never again get to play competitive basketball together.
“Since it is her senior year, it is basically our last time,” Cheyenne said. “It means a lot because we are not really going to play again with each other.”