For three years Lakeside High School has followed a successful recipe for winning girls basketball.
Bring in young ball players, season them and accent with more young athletes.
The result has been a three-year record of 54-16, two Northeast A League second-place finishes and, this year, a share of the championship.
Two basketball players personify Coach Lisa Schultz’s formula for program building - Stephanie Guenther, one of five veteran seniors, and point guard Carrie Waddell, part of the youth movement.
Stardom was thrust upon Guenther as a freshman.
The team has essentially revolved around her for four years beginning with Lakeside’s ignominious 0-14 first NEA season.
Guenther has been a scoring and rebounding leader and the heart of Lakeside’s trapping full-court press. She’s spearheaded three seasons that included last-year’s first state tournament and near-placing effort.
“We count on her every night. She’s got spirit and the leadership that goes with it,” said Schultz.
“Our record has a lot to do with Stephanie. It will be a tough one to take when she leaves.”
Waddell, a sophomore point guard, like Guenther began on varsity as a freshman. Unlike Guenther, she was allowed to mature more slowly.
This year they have parlayed their specific skills into Lakeside’s best record ever.
Guenther finished the season as league scoring champion with a career high 18.5 average.
Because of Waddell, she hasn’t had to endure the double- and triple-teaming of seasons past, and her average is up seven points per game.
“Scoring this year was not one of my goals,” Guenther said. “It just happened that way.”
She also is averaging 8 or 9 rebounds per game, is second in steals after leading the team last year, and leads the team’s fast break off a turnover 70 percent of the time.
But Guenther’s most important contribution is that of team leader, something she previously accepted with reluctance but this year has enthusiastically embraced.
“It was tough trying to be the leader all the time and be positive,” said Guenther. “Everybody goes through struggles.
“Now I like having the role of being `mom.”’
Waddell can score but prefers playmaking to shooting and already has college coaches watching.
“She’s been all the difference in the world,” said Schultz, herself an all-star point guard in high school and college. “She’s averaging eight assists a game and is making moves like kids in college.”
She is also one of those who have relied on Guenther’s calm and stable influence.
“Steph has been a lot of help,” Waddell said. “When you’re feeling down, she’s always there to bring you up.”
After being asked last year to come off the bench and score - she buried a pair of threepoint baskets in overtime against Colfax that helped secure the Eagles’ state berth - this year she runs the show.
She learned how to handle the ball playing against boys in her neighborhood. Lakeside coaches asked her this year to be a playmaker.
“I like to pass more than shoot,” Waddell said. “My goal was to beat the assist record.”
With her in control, scoring has been easier for Guenther and been distributed among several players.
Included is yet one other freshman, Brianne Jolley, who came up from junior varsity and has scored in double figures a couple of times.
It’s all part of the Lakeside recipe.
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