Ciara Albright hears a lot of things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s listening.
She hears her coach, Genoa’s Mike DeStazio, say things about her like, “I thought and still think she is the best player in the league. That doesn’t mean everyone agrees with me. Everyone shows favoritism to their own player.”
Albright hears DeStazio say, “She’s definitely one of the better players I’ve ever coached who can get ball to the rim.”
That part may be true, but Albright, a 5-foot-7 senior wing, tries to stick with what she can control.
“I don’t let it get to me,” said Albright, a first-team All-Northern Buckeye Conference pick as a junior. “I feel I could be better. I feel there are better players than me. I know (DeStazio) has high expectations of me, and I just want to work hard so he thinks better of me each day. He never tells me that I’m good player because he doesn’t want it to go to my head. I don’t want to get a big head about it.”
Albright averaged 16.6 points and 5.3 rebounds a year ago, when the Comets finished a dismal 8-15 and 3-11 in the NBC. Through seven games, Albright was averaging 20.3 points and eight rebounds a game while shooting 61 percent from two-point range. She also had 24 assists and 29 steals for Genoa (5-2, 3-1).
“She has worked very hard at shooting the ball on the perimeter,” DeStazio said. “She gets a lot of layups but has scored quite a bit from outside. She can finish. She can get through traffic and put it in the hole.”
Albright admitted she hasn’t weaved her way to the basket as much as last year, but she is shooting more comfortably from outside.
“I’m working on my perimeter game more,” said Albright, who wants to play college ball. “Teams know how to stop me and they try to stop me from getting inside. I feel it will help my team more if I score outside. It’s helped so far. I have a bigger variety on how to score.”
The Comets, the NBC coaches’ pick to win the conference crown, own wins over Eastwood, Fostoria, Northwood, Danbury and Lake. They’ve lost to Woodmore and Oak Harbor with a lineup that will only get better in the next few weeks.
“We look pretty good right now,” DeStazio said. “We’ve won four straight and the kids are starting to play well together. Carly Gose came back from injury (abdominal strain) and Haley Gerke (knee surgery) might be back this week. I’ve been starting a freshman guard, Emily Edwards, and she’s been playing tremendously. When Carly and Gerke get in basketball shape, we’re going to be that much quicker.”
Sophomore point guard Haley Pickard is averaging 18 points and 7.6 rebounds, with 30 steals and 23 assists. Edwards is averaging six points and three rebounds and has 17 steals to go with 15 assists.
“Haley is probably one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” DeStazio said. “She has great hands, she’s quick, she anticipates and she gets a lot of layups because she pushes the offense up the floor.”
Genoa’s other two starters are senior post Brynn Skilliter (5 ppg., 11.1 rpg.) and senior wing Katie Jensen (7.4 ppg., 3.7 rpg.), whose 32 assists and 37 steals lead the team.
“Brynn has done a great job improving her offensive skills,” DeStazio said. “She really is the most improved player on the team. Katie is a very valuable player who can play at any spot on the floor. She’s averaging about 13 points a game in this four-game winning streak and she’s made seven threes the last two games.”
The Comets will welcome the addition of St. Ursula Academy transfer Erica Harder, a 5-11 sophomore, early next month. Harder has to sit out 50 percent of Genoa’s regular-season games due to the transfer rule.
“I can put her anywhere,” DeStazio said. “She can run the point. She’s a very talented basketball player and she works as hard as anybody in practice. We use her on the scout team and we can’t stop her.”
Albright said adding Harder to the rotation next month will be a big plus to an already strong lineup.
“Usually when you come into a new season you have to start all over,” she said. “This team, we have a bond and we don’t have to start all over. We’re experienced and we were in the gym all summer working together. We’re comfortable with each other and we have basketball smarts. Each one of us knows what each player can do, and that makes it a lot easier.”