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GIRLS’ MCDONALD’S ALL-STAR GAME: Rising stars to take the court

Heather VanHoegarden | Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The country’s top women’s basketball players take to the court at the Joyce Center tonight, one of whom will make Notre Dame her home next fall.Notre Dame signee Lindsey Schrader will give the hometown crowd a glimpse into the future of Irish basketball in tonight’s McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball game.”It’s a thrill [for her] to make the team,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said of the top recruit. “To be here it’s nice, first of all, that it’s close to home, so her parents can come down, but just to be here at Notre Dame, with everyone around, I think she’s really excited about that.”Schrader was recently named Ms. Basketball in the state of Illinois after leading Bartlett High School to a second place finish in the Class AA state tournament and a 30-5 overall record.The Notre Dame signee is the only player from Illinois on the girls’ roster for the game, and will play on the West team. She is joined by 23 other players, including some whom she will likely play against next season. Two of the All-Americans signed with Big East schools, with Connecticut landing Saint Albans, W.Va., native Renee Montgomery and Rutgers signing center Kia Vaughn out of the Bronx, N.Y. Both are set to play on the East squad, and tonight will likely mark the first of many matchups between the three Big East-bound seniors.But it is a Big 12 school that has the most McDonald’s All-Americans. Texas has signed three of the All-Amer-icans – point guard Erika Arriaran (Norco, Calif.), forward Crystal Boyd (North Little Rock, Ark.) and forward Earnesia Williams (Sapupla, Okla.). All three will play for the West team.But for Irish fans, Schrader is the main attraction. The 6-foot forward/guard averaged 22.1 points and 10.3 rebounds as a senior, en route to her runaway Ms. Basketball award. She received 94 first place votes, 68 more than the first runner up, as voted on by the media in Illinois.Schrader should play a key role for next year’s Irish. Notre Dame loses leading scorer and All-American Jacqueline Batteast to graduation after finishing 27-6 this year and falling to Arizona State 70-61 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. After a disappointing end to this year’s season last week, McGraw is excited to see Schrader play in the Joyce Center, as she will give a sneak peak into the future of Irish basketball.”It’ll be nice to see her on our floor and what she looks like, because she’s somebody we’re really counting on to score [next season],” Mc-Graw said. “She’s a great scorer. She can shoot the three, she’s got great hands, she’s tough, she’s physical, she’s aggressive, and that’s what this team needs.”And so with Schrader making her first appearance on the home court of the Irish, McGraw is ready for the star senior to wear a Notre Dame uniform.”We’re just anxious to get her in here and have her make that adjustment to the college game that all freshmen have to go through,” McGraw said. In 2002, current Irish junior Courtney LaVere played in the game, winning the 2-ball competition with Irish forward Torin Francis of the men’s team.The fourth annual girls’ game is set to tip off at 5 p.m. tonight at the Joyce Center.