Left for dead, Shamrock girls finding a way
Scotus Central Catholic girls basketball was likely left for dead by many before the first tip-off of the season.
Replacing a large senior class of eight plus losing All-State returnee Bailey Lehr to a season-ending ACL injury seemed like too steep of a hill, and too much adversity, for a largely untested group to overcome.
Yet, nearing the midway point of the season, the Shamrocks have found a way out of an 0-2 start, handed No. 5 Grand Island Central Catholic its only loss of the season and, just days ago, won the Columbus Holiday Tournament for the eighth year in a row.
The streak continued with a victory over a blazing hot Lakeview team that came into the championship match with seven straight wins. Scotus is now 6-3 and eighth in the most recent wildcard points standings put out by the NSAA.
And though that might be unexpected, or ahead of schedule, Scotus players and coaches would disagree.
“They just kept believing in themselves. They never just decided, ‘Poor us.’ They decided, ‘We’re going to keep playing,’” coach Jarrod Ridder said about the team’s reaction to losing Lehr.
“Kids are stepping up and making plays. Some nights it’s somebody with a bunch of threes, some nights it’s kids taking charges, or kids getting rebounds or guarding the best player. We have to do everything together.”
That’s the area in which Ridder said the team has taken the biggest step. Collectively as a unit, the girls are understanding how working together positively influences every part of the game.
That can be a difficult concept for a roster full of players seeing their first significant varsity minutes. Oftentimes, rookies struggle to balance adhering to their specific role while also making an impact on the game.
Put it another way, new players don’t often know how to let the game come to them rather than force themselves into the action. That may have been a problem for Scotus early on. Lately, the Shamrocks continue to show evidence they’re jelling as a group and grasping the team over individual mentality.
“At the beginning of the season, not many people had too much confidence in us,” sophomore Camille Pelan said. “We’ve been practicing hard. This win (over Lakeview) is big for our confidence. This win can help carry us through the rest of the season. Lakeview is a good team. If we can beat them, we can beat other good teams, too.”
The development of Pelan and fellow sophomore Kamryn Chohon is perhaps the second-biggest factor in Scotus overcoming early adversity.
Pelan has set the school record for 3-pointers in a game twice already this season while Chohon has been a consistent force on defense.
Scotus always looked like a capable group with the experience of seniors Abbie Zoucha and Courtney Kosch, and the abilities of juniors Amber Buhman and Chloe Odbert, but with Pelan and Chohon thrown into the mix, the Shamrocks are that much better on both ends of the court.
“Every day in practice it’s, ‘what can we do well? What can you do well? What can you do to help our team?’ You have those kinds of conversations all the time with every kid. Whatever they can do to help the team, you want to make sure those kids are doing those things,” Ridder said.
“We have lots of pieces. When we play as a unit, we play really well. When we’re all kind of clicking, we can beat really good teams and play really well.”
Even so, did Ridder expect Pelan to be setting records and Chohon shutting down older players?
“The thing about them is, they’re really hard workers. They’re going to put in the time it takes to be good players,” he said. “The thing, too is, they’re really coachable. That’s everybody on our team.
“Coach Petersen can get on Camille for something and she’ll say, ‘Thanks, coach.’ That’s the mindset of our team. That allows for some really big growth because of their ability to be coached. That says a lot about them.”
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org