Lucky Alex Elzinga.
Then again, maybe the Stevenson senior isn’t so fortunate.
For the next four years — because, you know, seven years of playing competitive basketball with somebody just isn’t enough — Elzinga gets to watch Kari Moffat play point guard and dazzle with a basketball in her trusty hands. Only Elzinga, a 6-footer who’s tough in the post, will be wearing a different uniform than her current classmate, who was her teammate until Stevenson’s 20-win season ended Monday night with a 58-47 loss to top-seeded Rolling Meadows in a semifinal of the Class 4A Libertyville sectional.
Last week, Elzinga announced that she’s Army-bound. She accepted an appointment to West Point in New York, where she will suit up for the United States Military Academy, while the 5-5 Moffat accepted a scholarship offer from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.
Two Patriots bound for the Patriot League.
“I get to play her twice a year next year,” an excited Elzinga said. “I’m looking forward to that.”
Truly, she is, even if Moffat plays Division I basketball like she played high school basketball Monday night.
Victory aside, the four-year varsity starter went out like you would hope a four-year varsity starter would go out. Kari was so very, very good. She played with poise, took the ball aggressively to the basket, pulled up and swished jumpers, showed off a quick step to lose her defender. She scored 18 points, shooting 8 of 10 from the floor, including a 3-pointer with time winding down in the game. She hustled for 3 rebounds, dished out 3 assists and recorded a pair of steals, too.
A good kid who always spoke articulately and with class even after a rare defeat, Moffat walked off the court at game’s end with her head held high, even though the pain of losing and the reality that her Stevenson career was over was written all over her face. If tears were welling in her eyes, she concealed them well.
Better days are ahead on the basketball court.
For Kari Moffat.
For Alex Elzinga.
“I love Kari to death,” said Elzinga, who like Moffat, was named to the All-North Suburban Conference team this season. “I’ve been playing with Kari since the sixth grade. I’ve been playing with all the seniors (Paige Freudenberg and Haley Umans, too) since sixth grade, at least.”
When hall-of-famer Tom Dineen was hired as Stevenson’s head coach in 2009, he pulled up freshmen Elzinga and Moffat. In their four varsity seasons together, with Elzinga establishing herself as a starter her junior year, the Patriots won 85 games, including at least 20 in each season.
“That’s an awesome accomplishment for those kids,” Dineen said. “I’m thankful for them making Stevenson so successful the last four years.”
Elzinga will be playing for an Army squad that’s having a successful season under head coach Dave Magarity. The Black Knights were 19-6 and tied for first place in the Patriot League with Navy, until suffering an upset loss to Colgate on Wednesday night.
Army had contacted Elzinga in the middle of last summer.
She admittedly wasn’t quite sure if she was military material.
“At first, I was like, ‘I don’t know. I mean, it’s Army. I’d have to serve,’ ” Elzinga said. “They were like, ‘Just come out and see the campus and see what it’s like here, because that will probably change your view.’ ”
True. Her mind changed after visiting West Point.
“It really did,” Elzinga said. “It changed my whole perspective about it. I loved it from the moment I stepped on campus.
“Really, it looks just like Hogwarts (of ‘Harry Potter’ fame),” Elzinga added with a laugh. “They have the huge mess hall and everything, and I got to go to a class and walk around with some of the girls.”
Moffat will play for veteran head coach Sue Troyan at Lehigh, where the Mountain Hawks are 13-13 and 5-6 in the Patriot League this season. Troyan has coached Lehigh to three conference championships.
She knows about winners, suffice it to say. Kari Moffat should fit right in.
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