Nottingham wrapping up starter role with WildcatsDecember 26, 2019
By COREY STOLZENBACH
JASPER — Brooke Nottingham remembers how nervous she was when she started in her first high school varsity game Nov. 12, 2016. Claire Knies, who is in the same class as Nottingham, started with her that night, while the rest were seniors.
"They all pretty much knew what to expect and we no idea, coming fresh out of the gate," Nottingham said. "Luckily, I had Claire to go through it with me."
The two were relieved they went through it with each other. Jasper took down Southridge 47-21, that night. It was the first of 40 wins Nottingham has accrued with the Wildcats heading into this weekend's Vincennes Rivet Tournament. She's been a fixture in that starting lineup this whole time, something she's pretty proud of.
"It's definitely pretty rewarding just to see my hard work pay off, and that everything that I've worked for has come true," she said.
Wildcats coach Jessica Mehringer said it takes a high basketball IQ to start in varsity as a freshman, something she thinks Nottingham has, but also praised her skill set. The third-year coach said Nottingham had growing pains, just like any young player did, but added her senior guard is constantly adapting.
Mehringer said a big growth of Nottingham's has been her maturity and how she has dealt with adversity during these past four years.
One example of her evolution came Dec. 19 in a 51-34 win at Northeast Dubois. Nottingham was putting up shots all throughout the first half, but they weren't falling.
Mehringer knew of Nottingham's capabilities. She told the Wildcats when the team was down by two at halftime that she had full confidence in their abilities to nail those shots, even though Nottingham found it discouraging that they weren't going in.
"It's definitely a mental struggle whenever you're not hitting," Nottingham said. "You're just wanting to give up or stop shooting or stop looking for that shot, but Coach (Mehringer) talked about that a lot, 'You can't stop shooting. You just have to keep fighting that mental block and get over it, knowing that the next one will go in.'"
Nottingham proved to be a catalyst, scoring 11 points as part of Jasper's 24-2 run in the third quarter. She nailed a trio of 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 18 points. However, Nottingham might not have kept shooting if she was having a tough time in her younger days.
"In the past, I would say she probably has done that when she's missed a couple," Mehringer said. "She's kind of shut down and not tried to shoot threes. She's tried to get to the rim or she's tried to do some other things, and so I was really glad to see her, A, just continue to take the shots, and then so it was really nice to see them start falling for sure."
The Wildcats are in the midst of trying to turn their season around. They sit at 4-6 going into the weekend. Nottingham said the team has had some setbacks, but she's proud of the way they've taken those setbacks and learned from their mistakes, especially in practice.
"We keep making improvements every single day," she said. "We did start out a little bit rough and there's always improvements to make, but I think it shows definitely a lot in practice that every day, we keep getting better."
Nottingham said the Wildcats have improved their defensive communication and to their offense, such as setting up and waiting on screens.
Mehringer said Nottingham has done a good job not getting worked up. She thinks Nottingham has directed traffic well and made suggestions about what she's seeing. Mehringer also talked about Nottingham's ability to communicate and make adjustments.
"She's managed to stay focused and centered and composed," Mehringer said.
Nottingham hopes to go out with a sectional championship, but she may not be finished playing basketball after high school. Nottingham is not positive, but pretty she'll continue on with the game after her prep career ends. She said she's gotten looks from NCAA Division III programs, but is still considering her options.
"I'll figure it out when the time's right, and I think I'll know when the school comes up, what decision I want to make, but I don't really get nervous about it, but I kind of think about it a lot," Nottingham said.
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