Above the Rest: 2021-2022 Girls and Boys Basketball Play-ups

The adrenaline rushing through their body as they get ready to exit the locker room. Warming up, each one tries to shake the nerves before the game starts. Taking off their practice jersey and setting it on a chair, preparing for the starting lineups as the game begins.

These emotions are felt by Eighth Graders Kaylee Mills, Katie Bucher, Natalie Hinegardner, Saylor Macke, and Freshman Hank Shick.

As younger players with less experience than their competition, the players said that in the beginning of the season they were scared to make mistakes. But, as the season progressed, they became more confident and less nervous. 

“Just to relax and don’t overthink it too much, just play basketball and have fun with it,” said Bucher.

This year, Bucher and Mills played in all 26 games this year for the girls’ teams along with Hinegardner playing in 18, Macke in 11, and Shick playing in 5 games for the boys’ team. 

In this season, Bucher scored 54 points in her 26 games, averaging 2.1 points per game, along with 3.0 rebounds. Hinegardner scored 36 points in her 18 games played averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. Mills also scored 36 points in her 26 games played, averaging 1.4 points with 1.0 rebounds. Macke scored 23 points in the 11 games played, averaging 2.1 points and 0.9 rebounds. 

Shick scored 16 points in his 5 games played, averaging 2.3 points per game, along with 0.8 rebounds. 

Despite playing in games, all of these individuals in both basketball programs also contributed to the team during practice.

Shick also played a role in helping his teammates prepare for their games in practice. 

Boys Basketball Varsity Head Coach Kevin Listerman said, “Hank is a guy that we have to guard so when we prepare for another team and their best scorer, Hank is one of the guys who play that role and it forces us to guard him.”

Being able to practice with teammates with more varsity experience, prepared the players even further for JV and Freshman games. 

Compared to Freshman games, JV and Varsity games have a lot faster pace. So, when transitioning between Freshman, JV, and Varsity, the players feel that it gave them more confidence to try new things on the Varsity level.

“Playing up and then going to JV and freshman made me able to gain a lot of confidence. It was a way to try new things that I was too scared to try in Varsity,” said Mills.

Playing up also prepares the player for future years of playing and gives them more experience.

“It helped get me more prepared for next year when I have to play,” says Shick.

Playing with older teammates is building bonds and friendships that benefit on and off the court relationships. 

Shick and Senior Austin Duncan formed a bond over this past basketball season which led them to help each other.

“He just took me under his wing. He helped me out at practice and showed me the way. We always run up some 1v1. He’s also a great mentor off the court, always doing the right thing,”  said Shick.

For Bucher, Mills, Macke, and Hinegardner, Junior Alyssa Harris has helped show them the way around the program this year.

Harris has never been considered an “upperclassman” until this year, but even while being an upperclassman the young players weren’t much different than everyone else on the team. And despite being younger than everyone else, they never lacked in hustle and effort. 

“They brought a lot of hard work and competitive hustle to the team. We could rely on them to get loose balls and give their best effort every game even though they were younger than everyone else.”