Published Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at 12:01 am / Updated at 12:02 am
basketball
From C-1 to D-I: Kissinger sisters give Minden 3 major college talents

A new box for recruiting letters is starting to fill at the Kissinger house outside Minden, Neb.

Brooke and Jamie Kissinger have retired their letter boxes after committing to play basketball at Illinois and San Diego, respectively.

Now, it's younger sister Taylor's turn.

She hasn't played a minute of high school basketball, but the Minden freshman already has an offer from the Illini.

“Anybody in their right mind would be looking at her,” said Dan Lesoing, her club coach with the Cornhusker Shooting Stars. “She's 6-foot tall and she can score at will. She's an offensive machine.”

She adds a third Division I-caliber player to the roster of Minden, a Class C-1 school that opens its season Thursday at home against Southern Valley. Brooke and Jamie are all-state senior guards who have led Minden to three state appearances.

It's a situation coach Rick Chramosta said he's never experienced in 25 years of coaching girls basketball.

“There won't be any expectations there at all,” he said, joking. “We'll see how we do. We'll be pretty good, I hope.”

Taylor has a few inches on her older sisters. Jamie is 5-9, a strong rebounder who isn't afraid to mix it up inside. Brooke is 5-8, and a great ball-handler with good shooting range.

Chramosta isn't worried about finding enough scoring opportunities for the sisters. Neither is Jamie.

“I think we'll be able to pass it around and be generous with it with everybody,” she said. “I don't think it will be too bad. It's not something you see all the time. It will be fun.”

The sisters, plus older brother Derek, a 6-2 sophomore guard at Hastings College, are known for their shooting prowess. It's not just because of good genetics — their dad, Brian, played basketball and their mom, the former Amy Heller, played volleyball at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

They also put in the time working on their game. Lots of time.

The older girls have been making the two-hour drive to Lincoln for three-hour Shooting Stars practices three days a week since they were in fifth grade. Taylor began when she finished third grade.

“They'll practice until Nov. 15 and then we won't see them,” Lesoing said. “As soon as they lose at state, they'll be in the gym that following week.”

When they're not making that drive, they're working out on the court that Brian Kissinger built on their farm about seven miles outside of Minden. Kissinger constructed the 50-foot court with a roof and heaters because it was hard to find gym time anywhere else.

Kissinger, who owns a feedlot, rotates shooting and ball-handling drills that he's picked up from Shooting Stars practices and college visits. Everyone but Mom takes part. She's more of the support system.

The Kissingers work on 3-point shooting, shots off the dribble, you name it.

“Basically,” Brian said, “if you shoot enough you can become a great shooter.”

He doesn't get any argument from the girls because working out has become a part of life. They do have fun hanging out with their friends, going to football games and playing a spring sport.

But basketball is never far away.

When he watches games on TV during the winter, Dad will call them down and show them a move they should be doing. Basketball sneaks into all of their dinner conversations, too.

“It usually comes up in one form or another,” Jamie said. “It's never really offseason for us. We go all year-round.”

Jamie said she and her sisters love the game and are getting excited as this season nears. It will be the first and last time they'll play together.

They've been giving Taylor advice, telling the 14-year-old she'll just need to relax and not worry, even though many of her opponents will be juniors and seniors.

“We just tell her to go out and play her game and she'll do fine,” Jamie said.

They aren't worried about the pressure of feeling like they have to win a state title with so much talent. It's something they already want for themselves and their team.

Chramosta is staying low-key about the possibilities. There are a lot of injuries, illnesses and intangibles on the road to that crown.

“I hope we can make a run at the championship,” he said. “We have got some experience back with the twins and a couple of other players. That will be our goal. I don't know if we can fulfill that, but that is going to be our goal.”

Contact the writer: Marjie Ducey

marjie.ducey@owh.com    |   402-444-1034

Marjie Ducey covers state colleges, women's sports, high schools, select sports, outdoors, holes in one, soccer, running and any other type of interesting story. She also puts out the metro edition and does some updating on Omaha.com.

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