So many girls have improved on their game, so many specific things that I’ve seen that have improved. These 9 kids have really stuck out to me in the days since the season ended in Columbus. I’m using everything I’ve gathered in AAU and the month of June. This DOES NOT mean if I don’t feel like you’ve improved enough to make this cut, that you haven’t. I haven’t seen everyone and I’ve seen more of some than others. This in no way should imply that no one besides these 9 have improved.
Maggie Adelman, Senior, Field – Maggie’s confidence has exploded. She has developed from a ‘safe’ player to a threat. Last year you knew Maggie would take care of the ball. You knew Maggie would make her layups and have smart shot selection. In the last few months Maggie has mentally gotten stronger and more aggressive. Defensively she has become someone who can guard the opponents best defender. Offensively not only is she reliable but now she’s looked upon to score. Her new-found confidence has expanded her range and she isn’t scared to shoot. Her midrange jump shooting is pretty automatic and she is attacking the rim with high proficiency, with her right or left.
Anna Alkire, Senior, Jackson Polar Bears – Anna may be the biggest secret in the Federal League. Last year she was virtually unknown. That certainly won’t be a problem this year. Opposing guards will be tired of her within minutes and she will not let up. I will gladly defend my view that she is an elite defender and possibly the best in the league with anyone who doesn’t agree. Her speed and athleticism makes her a huge asset in the Jackson offense. You will see an increased court vision and ability to get the ball to open teammates, and even get them open! Scoring still has room to improve, she sometimes causes empty possessions because she is unselfish to a fault.
Dee Bekelja, Sophomore, Solon Comets – This may be a surprise to some because Dee was an exceptional player last year. It may also come as a surprise because Dee missed most of the AAU season with a lingering foot injury. However that’s why her progress is so impressive! Dee’s shooting has improved a lot, she is the same quick agile guard that we loved watching last year. However now she seems to have raised the damage she does at the rim. Her body control is unbelievable. You can no longer just foul her and see what she does at the line. When she heads towards the rim her focus and agility is insane. She will twist, turn, lean…whatever it takes to put the ball through the rim. She has elevated herself to flat out dangerous.
Abby Duffy, Senior, Jackson Polar Bears – If you haven’t seen Abby play this spring or summer you may not believe that a multiple time All-Federal League post can improve this dramatically. Well it has happened. Abby has worked hard to improve herself and has developed into quite the athlete, as opposed to the highly skilled bull in a china shop she was last year. Her hands have improved, her post moves have evolved. She is even extending her range and shooting the ball very well! Perhaps the most impressive improvement is her leadership. She wasn’t a bad leader last year but she has visibly taken over this team on and off the court and is taking responsibility as an influential senior.
Lexi Manos, Junior, Hoover – This kid has worked so hard since the season ended! For those of you who remember Lexi as a Hoover bench player, or even the promising freshman starter, are in for a rude awakening! Lexi is driven to be the best and it shows. Speed, agility, ball handling, finishing moves…they’re all top-notch. If you think for one minute that her confidence is anything but sky-high you are mistaken. Within a program that is rightfully all about team and selflessness Lexi will still elevate her game and distinguish herself as one of the best and most skilled players around.
Karlee Pireu, Sophomore, Perry Panthers – Karlee is bigger, stronger, faster, and badder than what she was last year. That’s the easiest way to explain her transformation. She has grown into a serious force. She can legitimately do it all with a decent degree of success. She can hit the jumper, she can get to the basket. She has rounded her game so well that she will create matchup problems everywhere. She is fast enough to guard a smaller player, as well as big and strong enough to guard any big. On the other end she’s skilled enough to exploit a bigger defender and big and strong enough to punish a smaller one.
Tori St. Jean, Sophomore, Perry Panthers – Tori has certainly made a name for herself and turned some heads as of late. She has risen her game to the point that she is always a force when she’s on the floor. She has great length and she has used that to her advantage. Her scoring has taken off this spring as she has showcased a reliable jumpshot and started attacking the basket. She has really picked up the intensity on the boards and consistently creates easy points by making great defensive plays.
Maegen Storad, Senior, Chippewa Chipps – Can’t say enough about this point guard. She has worked to become the exact type of player needed in the Chippewa offense. She has got to the point in her development that she handles the rock well enough against even the best defenders to be productive. I’ve never seen her attack the rim the way that she has this spring and summer. She works hand in hand with the Chippewa shooters. Her decision-making has been excellent so far in regards to pass or shoot. Her understanding of the offense and the way she runs it is just tremendous. She is now the motor that keeps that engine moving instead of just being a satisfactory part.
Caitlin Tytler, Junior, Jackson Polar Bears – With Caitlin the difference is just overwhelming. After spending much of last season hurt she has exploded onto the scene this year. I haven’t seen a player outwork, outhustle or outmuscle her all spring and summer. She is literally all over the boards, on both ends of the floor. She’s neither the fastest nor the highest jumper but she has yet to be anything besides the toughest. She seems to always be in great position and offensively she makes it easy for the guards by being available when and where she’s needed.
GlenOak Golden Eagles – Though no individual player stands out this whole group of ladies have elevated their game. They seem to be playing with less worry, and more care for each other. Unity is something that just stands out when I see them. It’s undeniable that they are playing as good of basketball as any team right now. Led by a determined group of seniors that work extremely hard These Eagles have opened some eyes. There’s so much young talent on the team as well, and they all are working together for the same goal. They really enjoy each other and seem to be having fun, and therefore winning.
Jackson Polar Bears – Jackson as a large group of seniors, they are very close and are playing their best basketball to date. One of the toughest things for a team to get through is an incoming freshman busting into an already tight-knit group. I give only my top regards to the Jackson players and coaches on how well they are meshing together and every single person has put their pride and ego aside for the betterment of the team. The transition has seemed perfect so far. With three players that I feel have improved with the best of them it’s no surprise that they are playing so well. However they had lots of talent last year and couldn’t quite get it. So far so good this summer, and with the sickness of a teammate bringing them even closer and allowing them to embrace things that are bigger than wins and losses, I expect the growth to continue.
Massillon Tigers – One very positive thing in the girls basketball world is the Lady Tigers. Any one who has seen them from day one, even before Cassie Schrock took over knew it wasn’t going to be easy. The Tigers are young and talented, and in all reality, undisciplined. Cassie has taken over and although maybe not all have bought in, enough have that is making a difference. Every single time I’ve seen them they’ve looked better, more disciplined and coachable. Serious credit goes to those ladies and Cassie for getting things going in the right direction.
Carrollton Warriors and West Branch Warriors – I had to lump these two teams together because they share so many similarities, besides just their nicknames. Both teams have built on what they have, added depth and have been on a warpath of a summer schedule. Neither team lost too terrible much, and both have solidified their lineups with returning starters, improved underclassmen and some incoming freshman. Both teams are extremely deep, Carrollton is a bit more skilled as a whole, but West Branch seems to be tougher and more physical. The road back to the NBC title has been fun to watch so far and we should all just sit back and enjoy these two highly successful teams on their brutal summer tours.
Categories: Northeast Ohio Girls Basketball