Genoa junior guard Ciara Albright and the rest of her teammates are just as frustrated as their head coach, Mike DeStazio, with the way this season has panned out.
The Comets took a 7-13 record, including a 3-10 mark in the Northern Buckeye Conference, into Thursday night’s game at Fostoria. Genoa’s latest loss was Monday night against rival Elmwood.
“We play hard every game, but sometimes we can’t get over the hump,” Albright said. “We’ll play hard the first half and not as hard the second half. We’ll play bad the first half and then play better in the second half and not get the win. It’s frustrating, but we stick together. We feel like we can’t go hard the whole four quarters. We’re trying to figure that out.”
|Genoa junior guard, Cieara Albright, the
league's leading scorer, drives to the
basket against Otsego. (Press photo by
The Comets graduated four seniors from last year’s team and start a freshman, Haley Pickard, at point guard this season. Genoa connected on seven 3-pointers Monday against Elmwood, but the Royals had nine.
“The kids are working their tails off,” DeStazio said. “We just can't get a win. We had some tough losses early on, and probably five or six games we’ve been in the game or had the lead at some point. What happens is, you need to win a couple of those games to have the kids believe they can win those games. We have inexperience in close games and I’m not sure how you get that without winning close games.”
While the Comets won’t claim the NBC championship this season, they have two players who will likely end up leading the conference in scoring and rebounding.
The 5-foot-7 Albright leads the NBC in scoring at 15.8 points a game despite being held to nine on Monday by an Elmwood squad that played her with a box-and-one defense. Teammate Brynn Skilliter, a junior post, leads the conference in rebounding with a 9.5 average.
Skilliter has been surprised with the season she’s had grabbing errant shots, especially since she stands just 5-8. She said winning the NBC rebounding title would mean a lot.
“It wasn’t a goal at the beginning of the season,” she said. “I wanted to be the best player I can be, and I found out that rebounding came naturally to me. I think that’s my role to contribute to the team. Being able to get rebounds for the team is a great feeling. I’m only 5-8, and there are girls in the league who are six feet tall. There are a lot of good rebounders. I was shocked when I found out about halfway through (the season) that I was leading the league.”
Skilliter is by no means a scorer. She only averages one point per game, but she has 50 steals in 19 games this season.
“My defensive game is more important,” Skilliter said. “I try to let the other girls get the points and I try to get assists for 3-pointers.”
Skilliter grabbed 16 rebounds against Elmwood this season and she had 15 against Lakota and 14 against Lake. She had 13 rebounds against both Woodmore and Fostoria.
“She’s an animal on the boards,” DeStazio said. “She’s athletic, strong, quick. I’ve seen her take the ball from three people. She’ll do everything you ask. She’s a coach’s player and you don’t want to take that for granted. You want to appreciate it.”
Skilliter said her rebounding prowess is a combination of anticipating where the ball is going to come off the rim and boxing out her opponents.
“I try to anticipate and be aggressive and think no one’s going to take that ball from me,” she said. “It’s mine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get it.”
Albright’s success carrying the scoring load hasn’t been a surprise. She averaged a team-high 12.5 points a game last year and was a first-team All-NBC and second-team all-district selection.
Albright is also averaging 5.5 rebounds to go with 86 steals and 58 assists through 20 games. She scored a career-high 31 points against Lakota and pumped in 27 against Lake.
“Most of my points come from defense in transition,” Albright said. “They don’t really start off on offense. I’m on the top of our press and I take the ball to the bucket a lot and I get fouled a lot, and I make a lot of free throws. Last summer all I did was shoot free throws in the back yard. I shot like 20-30 percent last year, and this year I’m around 65 percent.”
DeStazio said he’d like to see Albright become more of a threat to score from outside, but he’s not complaining. Albright pretty much plays every position on the floor.
“She’s had a tremendous season,” DeStazio said. “She’s definitely one of the better players in the league. We’re not real big and we try to get the ball down the floor as much as we can on layups and steals. I don’t care if there are three people back defensively, Ciara has the ability to finish and that’s something rare in girls basketball. She knows where the rim is.”