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PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: NorthWood's Rulli signs with Grace College

Goshen News, Ind. — Austin Hough Goshen News, Ind.

June 29-- Jun. 29--NAPPANEE -- Kate Rulli gets to play college basketball close to home.

The graduating NorthWood High School senior signed with Grace College to continue her basketball career at the collegiate level. The distance between her high school and college is just 25 miles.

"My parents want to come to games, and they're probably the biggest supporters in my life, so just having them at my games was important," Rulli said. "It was between (Grace) and Franklin (College), and Franklin is three-and-a-half hours (away). They wouldn't be at as many games as I would like."

"Kate's skillset and accomplishments are outstanding as we saw over her four years of growth at NorthWood," former NorthWood girls basketball coach Adam Yoder said. "Those skills and accomplishments will serve her well at Grace, and our Black Swish family is extremely grateful to and excited for Kate and Grace. ... As a tremendous competitor and worker, she is one of the most caring, team-first players I've coached in any sport/gender in my career."

Along with being close to home, Rulli said the bond between the players at Grace College stood out to her.

"I like the team," Rulli said. "I know I wanted a close team, and after watching games of them and seeing pictures and stuff, you can see that they're excited and love to be around each other. I love the coach and the whole program is really great."

Standing at 6-0, Rulli was part of the 1-2 punch NorthWood had in the post last year, along with 6-1 senior Maddy Payne. Both players put up similar numbers, with Rulli averaging 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game in the 2019-20 campaign.

The Panthers went 28-3 overall and won the Class 3A state championship, something that still hasn't set it for Rulli.

"I can't believe it," Rulli said. "We still have our awards program to do, which we never got to do because of coronavirus. (Winning the state title) happened and then everything got shut down, so we never got to process that we did it. It definitely doesn't feel real still, but I'm sure it will in the future."

For her career, Rulli finished with 879 points, 555 rebounds, 96 steals and 31 blocks in 88 career varsity games.

While her on-court accomplishments will be remembered, Yoder said Rulli's impact went beyond the court.

"I am so very happy and grateful to have coached Kate, have her taught me to be a better coach, and to have her as a role model for (my wife) Whitney and I's children, Thayne and Maddie," Yoder said.

Rulli primarily played in the post for the Panthers the last four seasons. Developing the rest of her game will be the next step for her at the college level.

"Ball handling; being able to control the ball and do stuff with it," said Rulli of what she wants to improve on the most. "I don't just want to play right under the basket. I want to open up more options for scoring and such."

Having gone through a state championship run this past season should help Rulli make the transition to the college game, in her eyes.

"Our Class (3A) was very athletic, so just knowing I have the abilities ... I know I contributed at least a little bit, so just knowing I can help the team get that far -- I want to carry that over to college and be able to be successful in college," Rulli said.

Rulli intends to study pre-physical therapy while attending school.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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