With firepower on the bench, Jeeps ready to goFebruary 9, 2018
By JONATHAN SAXON
DUBOIS — “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
This simple principle governs how people have lived, interacted and progressed together since the first humans gathered to form their tribe. Nothing of note has ever been accomplished without teamwork and support, and the Northeast Dubois girls basketball team is a living, breathing example of those words.
The Jeeps have been riding high this season, overcoming an 0-4 start to see a midseason stretch where they won 14 of their next 15 games (including nine in a row), and winning the sectional championship.
Their starting five seniors have done most of the heavy lifting and have glowed in the limelight, but Northeast Dubois coach Andy Chinn knows that the Jeeps would not have gone as far as they have without the support of their bench.
“We’ve been fortunate. We’ve had girls step up throughout the year,” said Chinn as he reflected on the process of putting together a solid reserve unit that he can trust to bring into the game and expect consistent continuity. “One thing we try to preach is you never know when it’s going to be your time. At the end of the day we’re a team, and you have to be ready to go.”
Chinn and the players have high expectations of their reserves, like junior forward Camryn Stemle and sophomore guard Madison Cave, and the first part of their contribution is being clear on their personal objectives and how they apply to filling their roles on the court.
“I’m not really a shooter, but I box out and get rebounds,” Stemle said. “I’ll do anything to help out the team.”
“(Coach Chinn) talked to me and said, ‘You’re going to be one of those people that’s going to be a spark off the bench,” added Cave, who played the hero when she injected some life into the Jeeps offense with nine points in their 35-30 sectional title win over Wood Memorial. “I didn’t realize I was going to have such a big role.”
For Cave, that expectation of being another source of offense took some getting used to. She was initially nervous when faced with the prospect of getting thrown in the mix with the senior core and not missing a beat.
But after the season’s opening game against Heritage Hills, where she scored seven points in a 45-34 loss, Cave said the nerves calmed down and she was able to play more confidently as the season progressed.
“I just try to make plays,” she said. “I don’t want to be the one that says, ‘Gimme the ball.’ I just want to work the offense and get everybody the chance to produce and score.”
Stemle said it was easy for her to step into her role as a hustle player who helps create extra possessions with the rebounds she collects. After spending most her season last year injured and on the shelf, she was happy to do whatever her team needed in order to win.
“To come back this year and step up, it was a big deal,” she said. “Some of us don’t shoot a lot, but we have to talk on defense, box out, and make good (plays). We all just have to know out roles within the team.”
But Chinn said that her contribution to the team goes much deeper than just gathering 50-50 balls.
“If you watch her when she’s not in the game, she’s coaching from the bench and encouraging her teammates,” he said.
Versatility and depth on the bench has been one of the biggest factors in the team’s success, Chinn said, especially during their upswing in the middle of the season when the Jeeps could be playing up to three games a week.
“We got five starters, but we got to have three, four, five (in reserve),” he said. “That’s huge this deep into the playoffs. You never know when it’s going to be your time.”
As Northeast Dubois looks toward their first regional game around noon Saturday against the Trinity Lutheran Cougars (21-5), they know it is going to take every minute that every available body is able to contribute toward the cause.
He has the utmost confidence that Cave, Stemle, or anyone else he calls on will be ready when it’s their moment to step in and contribute.
“Putting bench players in the game, you’re not going to have drop-off because they’re ready to go in case you have a starter that is struggling out there,” he said. “Five people start the game, but who finishes matters, too.”
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