Will play at Marian for former Beech Grove great Katie Gearlds
Senior staff writer
Beech Grove senior basketball stars Cameron Cardenas and Katie Giller are known as the “Dynamic Duo.”
And rightfully so.
Cardenas, a 5-10 backcourt ace, is averaging more than 20 points per game for the second straight season and four steals per game. Her best output so far this season is 33 points against Morristown.
“Sometimes I lack confidence,” Cardenas said surprisingly. “I underestimate myself, but that start really boosted my confidence.”
Giller, a 6-1 all-round player, is close to averaging a double-double with 16.2 points and 9.8 rebounds through 19 games. She started the season slow but ripped off 25 points and eight rebounds against Monrovia and 29 points and 14 rebounds against Roncalli earlier this month.
“I think I was trying to be more team orientated and move the ball around instead of keeping it myself,” Giller said. “As the season progressed I took more opportunities with the ball and began driving more to score. I think I was looking at options earlier; there are times I know I have to be selfish with my game.”
The teammates revealed that they are on the same page as usual and their goals are the same for the Hornets – another state championship trophy.
They have played together since fifth grade; not only is their past entwined but so is their future.
They have awakened the echoes in Beech Grove’s gymnasium, The Hive, with comparisons to 2003 Miss Indiana Basketball Katie Gearlds, who set career records for points, rebounds and assists.
Leaving a legacy
Their future after their high school playing days belongs at Marian University and in the capable hands of coach Gearlds, who has guided the Knights to back-to-back NAIA national championships.
“I grew up hearing her name,” Cardenas said. ‘She was such a great player. People talk about me and Katie leaving a legacy, and that is really humbling because I never thought I would be even close to what Katie (Gearlds) left here. She put Beech Grove on the basketball map.”
Giller remarked, “When I looked more at her (as coach), it amazed me how much she is able to improve her players. She’s persistent on herself, even as a coach. I know she will help me a lot and make me work even harder. I appreciate that because she is one of my idols.”
And then Giller grinned, I’ll be playing for one of the best coaches in the nation. I’ll be a teammate of one of my friends that I have always played with, and I’ll be getting the education that I want.”
Cardenas plans on majoring in elementary education, while Giller is leaning toward sports psychology or nursing.
Looking at the near future, the Hornets begin their quest next week at Manual for their first sectional championship since 2003, when the Hornets won the 3A state championship. Beech Grove has fallen in its sectional opener against nemesis Danville for three straight years. And the No. 9 Warriors and No. 11 Hornets have been ranked closely together all season in the state coaches 3A poll.
Giller admitted that her work ethic has improved this season. “I was a goofy player in practice until this year,’ Giller said. “I’m all about making less mistakes, more accuracy and making more shots, and showing my teammates that this is what it takes to be a sectional winner.”
Cardenas’ role has changed somewhat because she is playing a wing position instead of point guard. She understands what lies ahead for the Hornets. “Now is a crucial time to be playing well. Losing to Danville is what’s firing us up this year – it’s our fuel. I have faith in our team. We need to win conference first and then step by step, get ready for our opponents (sectional).”
The Dynamic Duo also is mentioned for state honors, although neither player was named to the Indiana Junior All-Star team last season.
Cardenas arguably stands as the Hornets’ best hope to land on the All-Star team since Gearlds, but it may require a deep tournament run.
“There are so many girls that are so good in our age group,” Cardenas said of her AAU and high school experiences. “It (Indiana All Star) would be a real big honor because I was really disappointed that I didn’t make Junior All-stars.”
The playmakers acknowledged the improvement of their teammates. Classmate Mallory Storms, 6.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, gives the Hornets a presence around the basket, and sophomore guard Neasia Lee, 6.4 points, has returned after missing five games with a sprained ankle.
The Hornets were 15-4 (through Jan. 19), matching last season’s wins under second-generation and third-year coach Kristin Raker (45-21).
Katie Cameron Katie
Category Gearlds Cardenas Giller
Total points 2,521 1,640 1,345
Points per game 22.1 18.8 15.5
Total rebounds 844 268 849
Rebounds per game 9.1 3.1 9.8
Total assists 565 329 208
Assists per game 6.1 3.8 2.4
(Note: Cardenas and Giller stats through Jan. 21.)