ROCKFORD, Ill.-Carson Nitz's first love has always been basketball.
This season, the game loved her back.
Nitz just completed her freshman season at Rock Valley College, and what a season it was for the Beloit Turner graduate.
She helped lead the Golden Eagles to within one game of the NJCAA Division III National Tournament and was named to the All-Region Team and All-Tournament team.
"In the beginning of the season, there was a lot to learn and we struggled a little bit," Nitz said. "We finally started to buy in to what our coach was telling us. We played a unique defense that took a while to learn. Our chemistry started to grow, and we ended up really passing the ball great. It was a super fun season, and I'm already excited for next season."
When the school year began, the plan was for Nitz to play softball for the Golden Eagles as well. After her breakout season, in which she averaged nearly 12 points per game, Nitz decided to hang up the cleats for good.
"It was a tough decision," Nitz said. "I was thinking about what to do all throughout the basketball season. Basketball has always been my number one, and my softball coach knew that. After being so successful in basketball, I just realized I didn't love softball anymore. The coach understood and wanted me to succeed in basketball at a higher level, anyway."
Nitz said she didn't necessarily expect to have the success she did right away in her career.
"At Turner, I would drive a lot and I had a bunch of shooters around me so I didn't have to shoot," Nitz said. "Here, I was one of the better shooters an the team and I was the one getting the kick-outs. And I got to the line a lot when I drove, and I was able to hit my free throws. And I didn't have to be the point guard here, so that was nice, too."
Nitz said she can improve on a lot as her career moves forward.
"I can honestly shoot better, and get better on my ball-handling skills," Nitz said. "I'm going to work with my coaches a lot this summer on my fundamentals so I'm ready to go in the fall for another season."
Nitz is hoping to catch on with a four-year school following next season, but first she's hoping to continue a winning tradition at Rock Valley.
"The atmosphere here is great," Nitz said. "We all are winning teams and we all support each other. It's like one big family down here, and that's been great to be a part of."
Falling to Owens was a tough way to end the season, but Nitz is hoping for the best next year.
"I know that coach is out recruiting right now," Nitz said. "We are going to lose four sophomores that were a huge part of our success this year. Losing to Owens was a bummer, but we are hoping to get the opportunity next year to play them again."