ROCKTON—When it became obvious that his eighth grade daughter Haley was enamored with the sport of basketball, Jeremy Warren made the same decision a lot of Stateline parents do.

He sent her to trainer Danny McLarty with the hopes the basketball guru could mold her into a ballplayer.

“Like I do with all the kids I work with, we started with ballhandling and then I taped in slow motion Haley’s shooting form,” McLarty said. “It looked like a volleyball pass. I sent a clip of it to her parents and said we have some work to do here.”

Fast forward about four years to Wednesday and it’s obvious how far that young player has come. Now one of the best 3-point shooters in the area, the Hononegah High School senior signed a letter-of-intent to play basketball for NCAA Division II Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill.

“We’re very proud of Haley,” said Jeremy, who attended the signing with his wife Tiffany. “I’m not surprised she is going to be a college athlete. I am very surprised it ended up being basketball.”

Haley also played soccer and volleyball for two years at Hononegah before forgoing those sports to concentrate on her favorite.

“It was a hard decision,” she said. “I wondered if this doesn’t work out, would I regret not choosing one of the other sports. I loved all the other sports and the coaches and teammates, but I loved this sport a little more andI felt I could go the furthest in. Thankfully, it has worked out.”

While her parents thanked McLarty and her myriad of coaches from middle school, the travel ball Wildcats through current HCHS head coach Jason Brunke, McLarty said most of the credit should go to the athlete herself for putting in all the hard work.

“Her parents are very complimentary of me and I appreciate it, but Haley wouldn’t have made all that progress if she wasn’t willing to work on it on her own,” McLarty said. “Most of the credit goes to her. She got in the gym and took that volleyball set and made it into a very pretty shot. She has become a really good shooter.”

Brunke said the coaching staff at Hononegah recognized early on that Warren was the perfect fit for the program’s system. She can run the floor, she’s tough and she can shoot—all terrific attributes to operate on the wing for the Indians. She had five 3-pointers and 17 points Tuesday night in a 50-24 rout of Belvidere North.

“Obviously hitting threes will be her calling card from here on out, but she has become a better basketball player in all regards,” Brunke said. “She led our team in rebounding last year and she’s near the top again. She has also taken on a role of being a vocal senior leader. Basketball is a grind mentally and physically and it’s an emotional rollercoaster. She is the one who comes in every day and gets our energy level up. Her willingness to take on that role is going to lead to great things. She has earned this opportunity (at Lewis) and we are very proud of her.”

The Indians are 16-3 this season and 6-0 in the NIC-10, despite playing most of the season without injured Emma Clark, one of the team’s top scorers.

“It was a shock not having Emma and we were worried about her,” Haley said. “Fortunately she’s OK and if she doesn’t make it back this year she has next year and she’ll do amazing things. Thankfully, we’ve had Brea (Carter) and Ally (Niedfeldt) step in and we’ve been able to continue to play well.”

Haley, who plans on majoring in Communications at Lewis, can’t help but be excited about her post-prep future as well.

“I loved it at Lewis right away,” she said. “The campus is beautiful and the coaches were amazing. They were so welcoming. It didn’t seem like they were just trying to sell it. I felt a strong connection. It’s also close and I can still come back and watch my brother play in high school and see my friends and family. It’s perfect.”

She said the basketball program reminds her of her current team.

“They push the ball down the court and they knew how to shoot,” she said. “I’m eager to get in there and work hard and see what I can do for them.”

Recommended for you