Girls Basketball: Neuqua’s Hedrick ‘a head coach on the floor’
BY NEIL SHALIN For Sun-Times Media January 17, 2013 5:34PM
Allison Hedrick (right) of Neuqua Valley drives past a Wheaton Warrenville South defender last week. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:11PM
When extolling the virtues of an athlete, a coach will often say that “she does all the little things well, the things that don’t show up in the box score.”
Neuqua Valley senior forward Allison Hedrick is that kind of a player, and in addition, she excels in all of the big things, as well, the things that do show up in the box score.
Hedrick is the spiritual and floor leader of the 20-1 Wildcats, and she often takes her game to the next level at crunch time.
Thus far this season, the 5-foot-10 senior, who is often matched up with much taller opponents, is scoring 12 points per game and grabbing more than seven boards as well, plus she usually gets upwards of five steals per contest.
“Our team is a direct reflection of Allison’s skill and her personality,” said Neuqua Valley coach Mike Williams. “She’s really a head coach on the floor, in the huddle and in the locker room. She knows our system and she’s attuned to her teammates. She knows how every girl is feeling and she makes sure everyone keeps their head up.”
Williams said that Hedrick’s knowledge of the game gives her the ability to make spectacular plays on offense, defense and under the boards.
“She has a knack for finding the ball on defense,” said Williams. “She’s like a spy, popping out of nowhere, making the steal and then going coast to coast. She’s amazingly quick for a front court player and can battle with much bigger people in order to score inside.”
Williams said that the versatile Najee Smith, a junior who can play four positions, is similar to Hedrick in her abilities, dedication and knowledge of the game
“One or both of them will always give us the key play when we need it,” Williams said. “Najee will take over Allison’s leadership role next year. She’s Hedrick with unlimited shooting range.”
The committee that Metea Valley coach Kris Kalivas hoped would take over to compensate for the absence of center Anna Petersen, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL, is taking shape.
The Mustangs (18-4) are 4-1 since the injury and have relied on the added contributions of Katie Lawrence, Kellee Clay and Morgan Snyder.
Since the new year began, the Mustangs have beaten Wheaton North, Lake Park and East Aurora, and lost to Neuqua Valley.
“Katie started and Kellee and Morgan came off the bench against Wheaton North and they all gave us good minutes,” Kalivas said.
In addition, the other regulars Lori Obendorf, Bria Walker, Nia Flowers and Jenny Voytell have elevated their game in order to help cover for the huge void left by Petersen, who grabbed nearly 10 rebounds a game.
“Bria had a great game, scoring 25 points against Wheaton North,” Kalivas said. “And Jenny has been consistent. Reality has set in and the girls know we have to move forward and do our best to fill Anna’s spot. Our goal is to solidify second place in conference, and in the postseason anything can happen.”
Waubonse Valley started the year with a rough patch that included three blowout losses.
But the Warriors continue to work hard to improve, and they’re pulling together as a team even away from the basketball court.
Last December, the players at all three levels of the program — varsity, junior varsity and freshman — each adopted a needy family and donated presents to the children in order to brighten up the Christmas season.
“The girls raised the money to buy a variety of presents for each child in the recipient family,” said coach Dave Owles. “They got together as a team and gift-wrapped everything, and the coaches delivered the packages.”
According to Owles the families were “blown away” by the generosity shown by the basketball team.
“It was cool because the mother of our family prepared her kids to receive only one gift for Christmas,” said Mustang player Morgan Grastorf. “And we were able to provide multiple gifts for all three children.”
Grastorf said it was especially satisfying for the girls to work together as a team.
“I think it brought us all a little closer together,” Grastorf said. “Whenever you work together on something like that you learn a lot about who your teammates are as people.”
While Naperville North also started 2013 slowly, suffering a pair of conference losses, sophomore forward Kayla Sharples continued to provide consistency on both ends of the court.
Sharples, who scored 19 in a loss to Glenbard North, has been called by coach Jacquie Discipio “the glue” that holds the Huskies together and makes them optimistic that they can still finish the season at or above .500. They are hopeful they can sneak into the upper division of the DuPage Valley Conference.
“Kayla is a talented and physical player who can really go after the ball,” said Discipio. “She’s good underneath, she scores consistently and she’s one of our top defenders. We often use her up front in certain presses because she can fill the passing lanes with her long arms.”
Sharples is scoring 13 points and averaging eight rebounds a game for the 9-10, 2-5 Huskies as they embark on the second round of DVC play.