With any successful basketball team, it's the star players, the high scorers that get the accolades.
As any coach will tell you, it's the role players that play the unglamorous roles, like defense, rebounding and blocking shots as well as the little things — the kind of things that don't show up in the scorebook that are just as instrumental in helping a team to succeed as is the work of the star players.
Genoa’s Lady Comets are a prime example. The Comets are 11-4 overall and 5-3 in the Northern Buckeye Conference, tied with league leader Woodmore. Both are trailing league leader Elmwood (10-4, 8-0) by two games.
Now that they are finally healthy, there's no telling where the rest of the season will take them.
|Genoa sophomore guard, Carly Gose.
(Press photo by Harold Hamilton/
Sophomores Carly Gose and Haley Gerke are responsible for providing energy off the bench and playing good, perimeter defense. The time they missed early in the season because of injuries held the Comets back, and now that both of them have returned, the team is finally at full strength.
Last week, in a 73-25 victory over league foe Fostoria, it was Haley Pickard (18 points), Ciara Albright (12), and Erica Harder (16) who provided well over half of the Comets’ points, but it was Gose and Gerke, who scored five points each, who provided the energy.
"Carly Gose is the spark plug on this team. Carly can take us from a six-cylinder to an eight-cylinder. She's a hard-nosed kid that gets after it. She's smart and her basketball I.Q. is unreal. Pound-for-pound, there's not a better basketball player in our program. What a difference she makes for us when she's on the floor,” Coach Mike DeStazio said.
"Haley Gerke is coming along mentally as well as physically. She is definitely our best perimeter player. Gerke could be as good as anybody in the league at shooting the ball. She is going to bring something to our offense that will make us deeper in case other teams want to pack it in (defensively)."
The other three rotation players are sophomore Erica Harder, junior Christy Dazley and sophomore Caitlyn Shessler.
Harder, who is back at Genoa after attending St. Ursula last year, had to sit out the first 11 games of the seasons because of transfer rules. In her first game with the team, she had seven rebounds and seven steals and was vital in helping the Comets rally to defeat Rossford on January 3.
"She's given us everything she has in practice and she works hard in all the drills," DeStazio said. "She's played on the scout team and we haven't been able to stop her in practice."
He is also conscious of the work done by Dazley and Shessler.
"(Dazley) plays the post and is very athletic," DeStazio said. "She's given us some valuable time when we had some injuries. She's done so much for this team, and (Shessler) has come in and done some nice things for us. Both of them have been important to this team.
"It's hard to talk about one player on this team. When you have a number of girls that buy into your plan and they're successful, you want to give them credit."
The Comets employ a 1-3-1 defense designed to wreak havoc for opponents and create turnovers in an effort to spur the offense. Genoa also likes to use a pressure defense at times and likes to move at a fast pace and get high-percentage shots on the offensive end.
"One thing about it is the kids like to play (at a faster pace)," DeStazio said. "The kids are more excited about it. That's the strength of this team — distributing the ball and getting up and down the floor. We are better at the half-court than we were last year, but it's not our strength. All of our drills in practice are fast-break drills. We work so hard in practice that the games become more natural for us. It's up and down, that's the style of play today. We hope that our depth will wear the other teams down. Old Fort handled our pressure well, but I think we wore them down."
What sets this year's squad apart from those of the past few years is their experience. For a number of them, this is their second year of playing at the varsity level.
"You can definitely see a difference with some of the players," Gose said. "We're more used to playing together and its showing."
DeStazio adds, "The last two years, we kept starting with a new group of kids. We'd lose a bunch of seniors. This group is a little bit tighter together and the heart of this team is back; the chemistry is there. We had a great summer of basketball. It's not about winning in the summer, it's about playing together.
"Right now, we're focusing on one game at a time and being a good tournament team. I think that's only five weeks away — that's our focus right now. If a league title happens, it happens. I don't want to put pressure on the kids. This is a good league. We want people to adjust to us. We don't want to adjust to them. That's our new philosophy. We want to worry about Genoa. We don't want to worry about anybody else."
DeStazio, now in his fourth year with the Comets, is known to many in the area for his success with Woodmore. He coached in Elmore from 1980-2003 and was the head coach starting in 1994, winning two Suburban Lakes League titles and advancing to the district finals three straight times (2000-02) before finally getting to regionals on the third try. DeStazio has a career record of 196-85 (.698), including a 47-33 (.588) mark in Genoa and has won two sectional titles with the Comets. His best season came in 2011 when Genoa went 21-3 and advanced to the district finals before losing to a Lake team that was ranked second in Division III.