It was only fitting that Ciara Albright would finish out her senior season by reaching the 1,000-point plateau.
She is the seventh Comet to do so, and she did it in good time.
“The thing that some people don’t realize is,” Genoa coach DeStazio said, “that most of these other players played varsity for four years and Ciara (got to 1,000) in just three years.”
Albright reached the milestone on Feb. 6 when she put up 26 points on the Rossford Bulldogs in a narrow 62-61 defeat.
“It felt amazing to finally get to this point,” Albright said. “I've been working towards it since my freshman year and to know that I was finally able to accomplish one of my many goals meant a ton to me.”
|Genoa guard Ciera Albright scores in a
Northern Buckeye Conference home court
match-up against Lake. (Press photo by
It’s been a progression up to this point. During her sophomore year, Albright averaged 12.6 points and she increased her numbers to 16.6 points and 7.7 rebounds last year. Last year, Albright was named first team in the Northern Buckeye Conference and district and earned All-Ohio Honorable Mention honors in Division III.
As a freshman, she played junior varsity and watched as a team led by Julie Swartzmiller, Alyssa Meis and Brandi Schimming went 21-3, earned a No. 8 ranking in the final Associated Press D-III state poll and advanced to the district final before falling to Lake. The Flyers were responsible for all of the Comets’ losses that year.
DeStazio says what seems to set Albright apart is her determination. More specifically, it’s her competitive spirit that fuels a drive to succeed. That competitiveness is one of the primary reasons that Albright, a small forward, is also one of the top rebounders in the conference. Currently, Albright is averaging 7.4 rebounds, good for sixth in the NBC.
“I always thought that Larry Bird never got enough credit for being a great rebounder,” DeStazio said. “I put ‘C’ in that category. (Bird) always knew where to be and she always knows where to be. She’s sees the ball come up short and come off the rim so well. It’s a natural ability and that’s something that’s hard to coach.”
DeStazio says her will to win occasionally causes people to view her unfavorably because she is playing with passion on the court.
“She’s very competitive on the floor and gets a bad rap from some people because she’s aggressive. She’s pretty feisty,” DeStazio said. “But people would be surprised because she’s one of the nicest, caring kids. She’s always smiling, is always happy. She’s just a great kid.”
She’s no stranger to meeting expectations in big games, either. In the Comets’ 57-52 defeat of Rossford on Jan. 3, Albright scored 16 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, and grabbed 17 rebounds as she helped her squad claim a key NBC victory after blowing a 14-point lead.
She also tallied 25 points in Genoa’s 63-42 victory over Lake in the Division III sectional final last year, and there were the 29 points Albright scored in the 74-56 victory over league champion Elmwood this year, which got DeStazio his 200th career win. She’s also gotten plenty of help from Haley Pickard (17.1 pts., 7 reb.), who along with Albright, rank first and second in the league in scoring.
“She’s definitely a player,” DeStazio said. “This was (Genoa Superintendent) Mr. (Dennis) Mock’s perception of her: ‘When the lights come on, C’s ready to go. When the ball goes up, it brings her to the top. When it’s game night, she brings it all the time.’ She’s a gamer.”
Albright says bringing in Coach DeStazio has helped the program get to where it’s at.
“We look to him as part of our family,” she said. “We're together every day and he and his wife look to us players as their own kids. Everyone on our team loves Coach, there's not one person that has any dislike for him. He gets on our nerves some days, but we all understand that's what a coach is supposed to do because he's just trying to make us better. He's helped the program a lot because when we did have a losing record (last season), he still never gave up on us.”
Winners of five of their last seven games, Genoa is currently 15-6 overall and 9-4 in the NBC, tied for second place.
The starting lineup features Pickard at the point, 5-foot-4 freshman Emily Edwards at guard, Albright at small forward and seniors Katie Jensen and Brynn Skilliter (8 reb.), both of whom stand 5-8, in the post with sophomore guards (5-0) Casey Gose and (5-4) Haley Gerke, wing Erica Harder, a 5-11 sophomore, 5-9 junior Christy Dazley and sophomore Caitlyn Shessler filling in off the bench.
“We all like a big family,” Albright said. “I believe each of them has their own role and have all made me a better player in some way. The girls I played with my sophomore and junior year helped me to become a better player, too.
The coach says how well they work as a unit will determine just how far they’ll go in the tournament.
DeStazio currently holds a career record of 201-87 (.698), including a 52-35 mark with the Comets. He is known to many in the area during days with Woodmore, where he led the Wildcats to a 151-52 (.744) record in 10 years from 1994-2003.
Albright is most concerned with ending her basketball career on a high note. She’ll get a chance to do just that when the Comets face Huron at 8 p.m. in the sectional tournament Tuesday at Port Clinton.
“It's really important to me to finish this year out strong,” she said. “It's my senior year and any game after Thursday could be the last high school game I ever participate in so I have the mindset to play as hard as I possibly can because I'm not promised another game.”
Albright is also a great softball player, a sport in which she’s lettered three times. Last season, Albright hit .438, good for 10th in the league, and was second in the league with six home runs despite missing a considerable portion of the year. For her efforts, she was named honorable mention All-NBC, but may have made first team had she played the full season.