For Riley Makalusky, it’s easy to pinpoint where she has made the most growth during the girls high school basketball season.
“I have made the most improvement in my shot,” the Hamilton Southeastern High School junior said. “I worked the whole offseason tweaking my form and changing old habits to have a more consistent shot.
“There is definitely always room for things to improve, but one thing I’m working on right now is finishing strong at the basket through contact.”
Prior to the Jan. 6 game, Riley, a 6-foot-2 guard, was averaging 18.3 points per game for the Royals (10-6). Her sister, Maya Makalusky, a 6-3 freshman guard/forward, was averaging 14.8 points.
“I have absolutely loved playing with Maya this year,” Riley said. “She is truly my best friend, and we play so well together, which makes every game so fun. I’m so glad I get to play two years in high school with her.
“As we began playing together this year, our nickname became the ‘Splash Sisters.’”
Hamilton Southeastern coach Brian Satterfield, in his first year of coaching the girls team after 20 seasons as HSE boys basketball coach, said Riley’s biggest strength is her ability to score.
“She can score in a variety of manners by knocking down the jumper, driving to the basket, posting up and getting to the foul line,” Satterfield said. “This versatility makes it tough for opposing defenses. She also does a good job of reading the defense to know when to cut or slip screens when she is off the ball.”
Riley averaged 9.6 points as a sophomore.
“Last year, she struggled from the perimeter, but that is an area she has improved,” Satterfield said. “Teams can’t play off her like they did last year. The other (improvement) area is attacking the offensive glass. She has recently done a better job of getting second-chance (scoring) opportunities for herself or the team.”
Satterfield said Maya has been ready to play from the start.
“She has been poised and not afraid when the lights get turned on, which can be rare for a freshman,” Satterfield said. “She knows there are areas she needs to improve on and continues to work on them every day. Maya has been a big part of our success and continues to get better every day.”
Both sisters benefited from having a mother, Jenn Sliwa Makalusky, who played basketball at Villanova University.
“She achieved what I want to do in my basketball career, so she has always been my biggest role model,” Riley said. “My dad played basketball in high school and had Division I offers for both football and basketball, but instead he accepted the presidential academic scholarship to Villanova, where he played on the women’s practice team.”
So far, Riley has Division I offers from Purdue Fort Wayne, IUPUI, Cleveland State and Lehigh. Cleveland State also has offered Maya a scholarship.
“I am looking for a family environment with great coaches that will push me to the next level,” Riley said. “I’m also looking for a college that wins championships and can compete in the NCAA tournament. “
Meet Riley Makalusky
- Favorite athlete: Skylar Diggins-Smith,
- Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
- Favorite musician: Luke Bryan