NBC girls cagers already putting up the big numbers

J. Patrick Eaken

Behind the play of 5-foot-10 guard Jamie Schmeltz and a deep roster, Eastwood girls basketball has already scored 80-plus points in both of its two opening games.
        The Eagles defeated Archbold 80-52 and opened Northern Buckeye Conference play with an 82-66 win over Elmwood.
        It’s not just about Jamie Schmeltz, coach Nick Schmeltz’s younger sister, who returns for her senior year after being named first team All-NBC for three straight years and the District 7 Division I Player of the year, and third team All-Ohio last year. She averaged 22.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, four assists, and 5.2 steals her junior season.
         “We will have the ability to play 10 to 12 players any given night,” coach Schmeltz said. “Kenna Souder: has extreme quickness and speed, and has a great ability to anticipate and read passes. She will guard other team’s best player. Hannah Limes is quick, aggressive, and willing to take chances.
Brenna Moenter’s length and athleticism will allow her to alter and block shots at the rim for us.”
        There is a strong set of non-starters and potential starters that will contribute, Schmeltz said.
        “Rory Farmer is a senior who has put in a lot of time over the offseason. She will be able to knock down some big shots for us this year,” Schmeltz said. “Jaylee Souder is now fully recovered from a torn ACL and she is moving and running the best we’ve seen. She will have a great year.
        “Kaitlyn Luidhardt is another player now fully recovered from an ACL injury. Kaitlyn has knocked down big shots for us in scrimmages this year for us and will be one of our better outside shooters this year. She comes from a great basketball family and has an outstanding basketball IQ. Reegan Sheets is another long and lengthy player for us who can impact games with her length and athleticism.”
        Schmeltz says the team must remain focused if they want to achieve their goals.
        “Rebounding and being able to consistently play hard have been a weakness,” Schmeltz said. “We are struggling pursuing rebounds right now and are giving up too many second chance opportunities. We also have a tendency to coast at times and rely on our athletic ability and skill rather than always playing with all-out effort.”
        The NBC could be interesting this year, showing off more talent than it ever has in girls basketball.
        Woodmore started out 3-0, also winning by big margins. The Wildcats took down Port Clinton (58-30), Fostoria (68-32) and Northwood (62-26).
         “Our goal is a league championship,” coach Kyle Clair said. “We have the potential to be even better this season as a result of our learning experiences last year and the work we’ve put in up to this point.  We have a nice blend of youth and experience that will continue our momentum.
        “Our goal is the top.  We are very capable and have the tools to improve, be better, and continue our momentum from last winter and this past summer. The league will be a battle once again.  Truly, it will be a challenge every night with multiple teams having an opportunity for a championship.
        “We are big and physical with a strong inside game from more than one player.  Everyone has an understanding of what we want to do and when your players are on the same page with one another great things can happen.
        “We have to be better defensively.  Stopping penetration and challenging every pass is a priority for us on the defensive side of the ball.  There is no room for complacency on the boards as well.”
        Lost to graduation are 5-7 guard Katie Brugger, a three-year letter winner who averaged eight points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.1 starters and was honorable mention All-NBC. Also graduating was 5-8 guard Nora LaMunyon, a three-year letter winner who averaged 11.6 points and 3.9 rebounds and a was second team All-NBC and second team all-district selection. The Wildcats also graduated 5-3 guard Paige Schmeltz and 5-7 guard Makayla Throop. 
Talented league
        Coach Toby Ledesma already has his Rossford team 3-0, with wins over Oak Harbor (58-55), Ottawa Hills (43-37) and Lake (49-42).
        But that is the Flyers only loss, as they start out 3-1 with wins over Northwood (59-32), Swanton (58-55) and Port Clinton (52-42). As you can see, non-league games are going the NBC’s way. Despite the strong start, Lake coach Joe Nowak is replacing plenty of talent that graduated.
         “This will be our biggest question mark leading into this season. We lost two very good players and scorers due to graduation from last season’s roster,” Nowak said. “We have players on this year’s team that are fully capable of scoring and distributing the basketball, however, they haven’t necessarily been looked to in the past to do that consistently. If players adjust and are aggressive within their roles, we have several players who are capable of scoring.
        “Given what we lost from last season’s roster, many of the players saw the opportunity to step up and improve and took advantage of opportunities to do that. We had discussions after last season that there was going to be the need for kids to step up and I’ve been pretty impressed so far with all the players desire to improve from last season.
        “On paper, we may look like we don’t return a whole lot, stat-wise, but I truly believe that we have players that can score the ball. As for first year players, we look for Delani Robinson and Ava Ayers to both have a solid season for us.”
        Lake was picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ meeting in a tight vote, but Nowak is hoping his team can surprise.
        “I have always had the expectation for the girls to compete at a high level and compete with the best teams in the conference, and this season is certainly no different,” Nowak said. “I think our league this year may be one of the most balanced seasons in my five years at Lake. There have always been competitive teams, but this season the teams voted third through sixth all fell within mere points of each other. I think that makes for a really competitive and fun season.
        “Overall size may be an issue for us moving into the season. We have some good sized players, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as the post-up types or a force inside,” Nowak continued.
        “This year’s team, although we have five seniors, will feature several players who will be logging time as their first year at the varsity level. How quickly our players can adjust to new roles and settle in will ultimately determine how good of a season we can have. But I’m looking forward to working with this group. They’re fun to be around, they’re all real coachable, and work hard every day.”


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