Dickey says offseason work paying off for his squad

J. Patrick Eaken

         Northwood girls basketball coach Andrew Dickey says his team worked hard in the offseason and he hoped it would pay off.
        “My entire team put in a lot of work this summer. I challenged them all to a 50-day shooting challenge to which my girls shot of 42,000 shots,” Dickey said. “It was one of the best summers I ever had as a coach at Northwood.
        “(Sophomore guard Meiah) Smith, (sophomore forward Randi) Wilson and (junior forward Ashlyn) Rable, between their work life and social lives, managed to spend a ton of time in the gym and the weight room. Two sophomores on the team, Bethany Gillespie and Alayna Avalos, are two girls that also utilized the summer to improve themselves and this coach noticed.”
        Wilson is averaging a double-double at 11.3 points and 10.5 rebounds. The team is 7-12 overall and 3-4 in the Toledo Area Athletic Conference, good enough for third place.
        “We've been doing as best we can these last few weeks. Winning in the games we should win and being competitive in all the others,” Dickey said. “We lost a big piece of our offense and defense right before we played Maumee Valley when Ashlyn Rable suffered a small fracture in her foot. And we suffered a heartbreaker that game. It was weird it's like we has to redefine our identity. But crazy enough our team has grown up a lot.
        “My JV players are really starting to play harder and have been giving me more of a reason to plug them into varsity minutes. This helps my varsity squad a lot allowing them to rest and stay on top.
        Dickey has other up-and-coming players who filling roles
        “Zoe Turner, our freshman, has moved from a guard to playing our small forward. Gina Nagel who was our sixth man has been a consistent starter for us and Mikayla Hanely, another freshman, in the last five games has been a great addition filling in for Ashlyn Rable. When we play her it allows Zoe to move out or it gives us three decent 'bigs' to play.
        “Though her stat lines don't show it, Emily Bowen has been a first team defender. She holds anyone she's defending to half their total points per game. She's averaging three steals and two deflections a game.”
        He was hoping that his team could be in the hunt for a league title.
        “It’s a tough league but I expected my girls to play for a league title this year. Because nothing less will satisfy them,” Dickey said.
        “I love being able to coach in a league like the TAAC. If you look at the quality of basketball we play in our league, you expect every game to be a battle. Toledo Christian has so many weapons and talent in addition to a very tough-minded coach who expects nothing but the best out of his team. Ottawa Hills is always a top tier team because they are so fundamentally sound and coached by one of the best in the state.
        “Maumee Valley (7-10, 3-5) and us are no longer the ‘newbies’ in the league and I know they will be hungry to win like us. And I’m excited to see how the new coaches at Cardinal Stritch (3-16, 0-8) did this season. We want to win. I’ve got a team that wants to just go out and scrap and battle with teams. We’ve got two of the top forwards in the league and a lot to prove to ourselves and in the TAAC.”
        However, as the season starts to wind down the Rangers are four games behind Toledo Christian (17-1, 7-0) and Ottawa Hills (8-8, 6-1).
        “I wish we had more wins under our belts but I've never been disappointed in my girls. This is a young team that has overcome tremendous obstacles this year and has stuck together throughout it all,” Dickey said. “It makes me incredibly proud and excited for our future.  We've got three more games left before we kick off tournament play against my old high school, Otsego, on February 18th at Bowling Green High School.” 
        Plus, he feels like his team can be even better next year.
        “Juniors Elycia Barber and Angelina Nagel are very important to us coming off the bench,” Dickey said. “Sophomores Alayna Avalos, Bethany Gillespie and Gabby Smith all will be needed to step up for the team. Freshmen girls Mikayla Hanley, Regan Grant, and Zoe Turner all will be intricate players for us.
        “My reserve players are also starting to show good promise, which we need at this time when we have a few injuries and players and what not. Regan Grant, Bethany Gillespie, and Miklayla Hanely all are starting to see time coming off the bench and I'm hoping they continue to show progress.”


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