BY ANDY ROWER | MIRROR SPORTS — Napoleon’s girls basketball team kept its undefeated record intact with a 67-25 victory at Maumee on January 10.
Although the Wildcats sank 41 percent of their shots from the field, connected on all six free throws and five treys, outrebounded the Panthers 33-19 and committed just eight turnovers, the highlight of the win came with a successful drive by Shae Pedroza with about 5:00 remaining in the game.
The basket gave the senior guard exactly 1,000 career points, making her the first Wildcat to achieve the feat since Amy Flory did it in 1992.
“It’s nice because it shows that all my hard work paid off,” Pedroza said. “I’m kind of relieved to get that over with.”
Napoleon girls basketball coach Corey Krein-brink wasn’t surprised at his star player’s response.
“It’s been 27 years since we’ve had a 1,000-point scorer,” he said. “It’s a neat thing. And, for a kid as good as her that works as hard as she does, I couldn’t be happier for her.
“With the amount of work she puts in herself and her attention to detail in everything she does, it makes sense for her to get it. She works very, very hard and the thing she cares most about is her teammates. If there is one kid on our team that could care less about an accomplishment like this that very few get, it would be her. The rest of the kids wanted her to get it more than anybody else.”
Pedroza kicked things off by scoring the game’s first two points on a pair of foul shots.
She later added a 3-pointer, while combining with fellow senior guards Emily Bostelman and Aliza Lankenau, senior forward Cait Good, junior guard Taylor Strock, classmates and forwards Kalli Helberg and Caely Ressler and sophomore guard Emma Pedroza in totaling 27 first-quarter points.
With defense from Bostelman, Helberg, Emma Pedroza, Ressler and Strock having already contributed to nine Panthers turnovers, the Wildcats’ Good and Shae Pedroza joined Emma Pedroza, Ressler and Strock in contributing to eight more in the second stanza.
The result was Napoleon outscoring Maumee 12-5 to take a 39-12 halftime lead.
With junior guard Brynn Brown leading the way with seven points, the Panthers actually won the night’s third quarter, 9-6, to pull back within 24 points, but the Wildcats trio of Good, Shae Pedroza and Ressler responded with the first nine points of the fourth – including Shae Pedroza’s milestone drive.
Napoleon junior guard Grace Hopkins and freshman Sophie Chipps also got into the scoring action as the game wound down, helping the Wildcats to their eventual 42-point win.
Ressler (four assists, four rebounds, four steals, two blocks) and Shae Pedroza (three assists) tied for the contest’s point lead with a dozen apiece and Strock added 11 points, two boards and two steals.
Emma Pedroza (five rebounds, four steals), Good (seven rebounds) and Chipps (three steals) each added six more points, Helberg (six rebounds) and Bostelman (two rebounds) both scored four points and Hopkins and Lankenau finished with three apiece.
Brown paced Maumee with 13 points, two assists and two boards, Jessica Roper scored five more points and fellow sophomore guard Taylor Westrick totaled three points and six rebounds.
Additionally, freshman forward Katelyn Owens (three rebounds, two steals) and senior guard Sophie King (four rebounds) each netted two points sand sophomores Sydney Bischoff and Lynkin Williams contributed as well.
The Panthers dropped to 1-11 (1-6 in Northern Lakes League play) with the loss, while the Wildcats improved to 12-0 (8-0).
That brings Napoleon’s overall record to 55-29 (33-17) up to this point in Shae Pedroza’s high school career.
“Her mentality, her work ethic and everything else that she brings us has meant the world to us,” Kreinbrink said. “It’s helped us grow and take a giant step forward.”
Pedroza said the recipe for this success has been simple.
“I think the biggest part of that is we have so many girls that care about each other and know that we have a lot of potential to go very far,” she said.
Just how far?
“I think we definitely have a good chance to go to state and win state,” Pedroza said. “We just have to keep focusing on ourselves and go one game at a time.”
Kreinbrink said he is taking the remainder of the season one day at a time.
“When we’re doing a good job of attacking and we’re getting shots inside out, we can be very good,” he said. “Defensively, the kids have been very good and that helps to limit our opponents as much as possible.
“We’re not very big, but we’ve got some good length and quickness, so we have to defend very hard and find a way to knock some shots down. When we do that, we can be a pretty good team.
“Our focus right now is just to come in and get better every day. If we do that, we think the sky’s the limit.”
The JV Wildcats were also victorious, defeating Maumee, 41-9.
Sophomore Ella Rausch led the way for Napoleon with 14 points.
Sophomore Skyelar Warncke paced the Panthers with three points, while the trio of junior Lexi Szyndler and freshmen Haley Hughes and Camy Wedge netted two apiece.
Four days earlier, Maumee suffered a 48-15 loss to Clay.
Warncke again led the Panthers, this time with nine points.
Wedge added five more, Westrick scored two and Danielle Schriner added one more.
Maumee had previously dropped a 23-18 game at Springfield on January 3.
Blue Devils freshman Amiya Bernal led all scorers with 10 points.
Hughes paced the Panthers with five points, Szyndler and Williams each added five more, Westrick netted two and the trio of junior Maia Wilms, sophomore Sydney King and freshman Evelynn Schneider each added another.
Maumee’s latest stretch began with a 48-13 loss to Liberty Center back on December 28.
Wedge led the Panthers in this one with six points, Westrick added three more, Schriner scored two and Schneider and Wilms both ended up with one.