Louisville area products keying IU women's hoop rise

Jaelynn Penn and Grace Berger are two key members of an Indiana University women;s basketball team having one of its best seasons. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jaelynn Penn and Grace Berger each had multiple  college options throughout the country when they were starring at Butler and Sacred Heart high schools respectively. 

Both chose Indiana, the first five-star recruits to do so, speeding up the program resurgence under sixth-year head coach Teri Moren. 

"They are two kids who wanted to stay close to home but were willing to go away from the state of Kentucky," said Moren. "For both of them to come here and latch on to the vision of this program and want to be a part of it and want to have an impact has been really special. And they're not just great basketball players. They're great kids as well, great teammates. We're fortunate they're here."

Indiana had a fourth consecutive 20-win season and a fourth straight postseason appearance last season and they have raised the level this season. They've been ranked as high as 12th in the country, the highest in program history and are the only team to beat the current number one team, South Carolina. 

Penn arrived in the class of 2017 and has started since her first game as a Freshman. She has added an improved jump shot to a stellar all-around game. She's averaging 10 points-per-game while often guarding the opponent's top offensive threat. Penn recently passed the 1,000 career point mark.  

"What she's doing there is what she did for us," said Penn's high school coach at Butler, Larry Just. "She affects the game in so many ways, she's usually on the best player, rebounds a lot. Whatever the team needs is what she does."  

Berger came in the 2018 class, was a key contributor off the bench as a Freshman and has started every game this year as a Sophomore. She's second on the team in scoring and assists and leads the team in steals. 

"She just loves the game," said Berger's high school coach at Sacred Heart, Donna Moir. "I'm not surprised. Her drive, her passion, I'm not surprised at all. She stayed up there this summer and her hard work is really paying off."

Penn and Berger love being part of the program's resurgence and being able to do it together. They mostly played against each other starting in middle school.

"Going back to 5th and 6th grade, obviously we've created a bond that nobody else has been through," said Berger. "I know I can count on her for anything. It's just really nice to have her on the team."

"I try to encourage her all the time because I see stuff is starting to click for her now," said Penn. "She's doing really good and I'm super proud of her."   

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