Extremely competitive during her four Hinsdale Central varsity girls basketball seasons, senior Paige Bareck also brought many smiles during practices.
“I’m definitely a jokester. I like to make a lot of jokes and make people laugh,” Bareck said. “I’m the same kind of person outside of sports.”
Bareck concluded her joyful run as one of the Red Devils’ best players. She finished among the top five in career points after surpassing 1,000 points Jan. 6 and top four in career three-pointers.
This season, Bareck was a senior co-captain with Riley Burr. They and senior Gracie Hartzman were basketball teammates since grade school for the Hinsdale Inferno traveling team with Riley’s father, Mike, as coach. Senior Abbi Shaker joined them in middle school after moving to the area.
“I love how it’s a team sport and you need everybody,” Bareck said. “I like the competitiveness of basketball and, for some reason, it’s always been fun to play. It’s so fast paced. Not many girls at our school play so it’s fun to be one of the few who fell in love with the game.”
Bareck’s parents, Phil and Marge, rarely missed watching. A great day for Bareck is shopping for clothes with Marge at Oak Brook Mall. Phil was integral to her basketball success even though baseball was his primary sport.
Before the game at Glenbard West Jan. 6, only Bareck’s parents learned from Hinsdale Central coach Tom McKenna that she was 15 points from 1,000.
“They didn’t tell me to not put pressure on me,” Bareck said. “I know my dad was really excited when it happened. I just didn’t know what to say. I was super excited, and we won the game, which made it even better.”
Bareck continued improving as a point guard thanks to her father and finding shooting coach Terry Cramer upon graduating from Hinsdale Middle School.
That added to her difficulty this past summer. Bareck had to tell her parents she decided not to play college basketball.
Academics and attending a Big 10 school in the Midwest meant more to Bareck, who knew she “was not good enough” to play for those programs. Her major is undecided.
“I feel like as I’m getting older, my parents understand my decision about what I want to do when I’m older,” Bareck said. “Honestly, I was looking for a bigger school. It’s a big commitment, even to play Division III. There are so many more opportunities to pursue in college. I want to join a sorority and not many small schools offer that.”
With the Red Devils, Bareck was fully committed.
She and Burr were promoted to varsity midway through their freshman seasons after numerous varsity injuries. Bareck wore No. 13, a nod to her Sept. 13 birthdate.
“I know it’s said 13 is an unlucky number, but I like that because it’s my lucky number,” Bareck said. “I’ve definitely learned to work as part of a team. I’ve learned leadership skills. When you’re down, that’s when your true self comes out. It was kind of my job to stay focused and not display that frustration. Coach McKenna and Assistant Coach Erin Navolio have been such great influences on my life.”
Always one of her team’s shorter players, the 5-7 Bareck became quite the scorer, especially beyond the three-point arc. She gained additional offensive chances thanks to Hartzman’s ability to also play point and 5-10 senior Elle Schaefer arriving as a junior.
“If I’m out practicing, it’s probably shooting, because it’s so much fun,” Bareck said. “I really like the top of the key just behind the three-point line.”
This season, McKenna suggested that Bareck develop a pullup jumper to complement her three-point shooting and driving abilities. It became a priority during the summer.
“She got stronger, more mature, and more confident. And then it’s her work ethic,” McKenna said. “She’s a really good co-captain; has a very, very positive attitude; and is actually very outgoing, very easy to coach, and respected by her teammates.”
Before she ponders her extra free time at college, Bareck will spend this spring back with the softball team. Bareck played varsity as a freshman and was a starting outfielder by the end of the season, but she stopped because of her traveling basketball commitments.
This doesn’t mean her basketball days are completely over.
“Reaching 1,000 points was kind of like my end mark at high school basketball,” Bareck said. “I think if I play or when I play intramurals at my school, I’ll just smile back and see how much time I put into basketball. It’s shaped me to who I am and where I am. I’ll always have that inner-basketball part of me. It’ll be like a thing secretly inside of me that most people won’t know about.”