Latrobe grad Kollar finding comfort zone, success with Saint Vincent basketball
Last week, a foot injury relegated Madison Kollar to the Saint Vincent sideline. It’s the last place women’s basketball coach Jimmy Petruska wanted to see his leading scorer and the last place she wanted to be.
The good news? The sophomore is expected to be back in the lineup soon.
As disappointing as it was to miss games, this was a minor inconvenience compared to what the Latrobe grad had been through in her first two seasons.
After scoring more than 1,300 points in high school, Kollar went to Division II Pitt-Johnstown. It took only half of a season for her to realize she wasn’t happy with the decision.
“It just didn’t feel like home for me,” she said.
Kollar had known Petruska for years, having attended his camps as a youth. The two got in touch and set the wheels in motion for a midseason transfer.
In 13 games for the Bearcats in the 2016-17 season, she averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds.
“I was definitely scared to (come in halfway through the season), very nervous,” she said. “But right when I got there, Coach Jimmy and the team made me feel like it was where I was meant to be.”
So Kollar eagerly anticipated the following season, when she could benefit from spending an entire offseason working out with her new team. For her, the following season never happened.
Kollar had sprained her left ankle multiple times throughout her playing days, and she knew reconstructive surgery eventually would be required. She hoped to wait until she hung up her high-tops for good, but it reached the point where she couldn’t make it through practice.
The surgery put her out for the season. Out but not down.
Two weeks after the procedure — and facing nearly three months of keeping weight off her left foot — she met with trainers to begin strengthening her upper body. She attended every basketball practice and watched hours of film.
When the 2018-19 season arrived, Kollar was ready to get back on the court. Though she had to learn how to blend with her teammates all over again, the transition was seamless.
“I was nervous about it,” she said, “but as soon as I got on the court with these girls, it all just came to me.”
Kollar has helped the Bearcats, who have won 11 in a row, to a 7-0 record in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (13-2 overall). She averages 14.8 points — shooting 50 percent from the field — and 4.3 rebounds.
She possesses the height (5-foot-11) and strength to play down low but also has the ability to create mismatches on the perimeter. She has made 7 of 23 3-point attempts (30.4 percent) and been to the free-throw line a team-leading 46 times, making 40 (87 percent).
“I think that’s what makes her so hard to guard,” Petruska said. “She can pop a 30-footer or post you up. She can take you off the bounce.”
She used all those skills in a 72-60 win over Rosemont in the Juniata tournament. Facing the Ravens’ Ashley Murray, a 6-3 center who previously played at Division I Texas Southern, Kollar more than held her own, posting 16 points and eight rebounds to Murray’s 14 and 12.
With the second half of the PAC schedule looming, Kollar is eager to return. Finally in her comfort zone with the Bearcats, she is intent on making the most of her final two-plus seasons.
“This is probably the most in my basketball career that I have been able to go out and have fun and not really think about what I am doing,” she said. “I have never felt the way I do about the game now.”
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact at Chuck at email@example.com or
via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.
Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .