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Girls Basketball: Claire Roberts, Sandwich shoot past shorthanded Plano

PLANO – Sandwich coach Chris Johnson wasn’t yelling much direction out on the court Friday, except for when his players weren’t shooting the basketball.

“We have rules,” Johnson said after the Indians’ 43-14 victory over Plano on Friday. “You’re 5 feet open; you’re in the lane, you shoot the ball. We do not want people hesitating.”

Plano dressed only six players because of COVID-19 contact tracing requirements. Plano coach Dave Lay said an unnamed individual in the program tested positive for the virus. Once contact tracing commenced, it forced Plano’s entire JV team and a few varsity players to be sidelined. The Reapers finished the game with only five players after junior Faith Malloy left with an injury and did not return.

“I’m literally chewing them out for not shooting the ball sometimes louder than any other time I yelled all night. The thing is: We want the teammates to know [that] they’re open,” Johnson said. “I can anticipate a rebound or something because I know they’re going to shoot the ball. They’re supposed to shoot the ball from that position. That’s where we keep talking about that we don’t want hesitation.”

“If my teammates know I’m going to shoot the ball, put it up,” Johnson continued. “I will tell you if you’re shooting too much.”

Sandwich's Josie Ness (33) fights for position under the basket against Plano's Rachel Martinez (25) during a game in Plano Feb. 12

Sandwich’s Josie Ness (33) fights for position under the basket against Plano’s Rachel Martinez (25) during a game in Plano Feb. 12 (Sean King for Shaw Local/)

Claire Roberts, a third-year Sandwich varsity point guard, seemingly has no problem firing from anywhere on the floor, knowing she has the green light to do so. Roberts, evidently, has all the confidence she needs.

“It really opens it up because then you’re sort of coming into every game [knowing] ‘I can make this shot,’” said Roberts, who paced the Indians with 16 points.

“I know in practice, [coach Johnson] wants me to shoot them all the time [and] practice it. I’ve just gotten in a rhythm, even though we’ve been like five months off of basketball. You just have to start getting into it.”

“Once you get confident as a shooter, you just keep shooting,” Roberts continued.

Roberts didn’t think an IHSA season would happen, but stayed ready regardless by playing pickup games and shooting on the driveway.

“Once we actually had a season [coming], all I worked on was 3-point shots,” Roberts said.

Plano's Ryssa Woodhouse (3) goes up for a rebound against Sandwich's Maggie Knepper (20) and Josie Ness (33) during a game in Plano Feb. 12

Plano’s Ryssa Woodhouse (3) goes up for a rebound against Sandwich’s Maggie Knepper (20) and Josie Ness (33) during a game in Plano Feb. 12 (Sean King for Shaw Local/)

Coming off of consecutive seasons with 20-plus wins, Sandwich (2-1) is finding a smooth start to the season thanks to a number of returners, including standout forward Josie Ness and others.

“[We are] very close [as a team],” Roberts said. “We are always joking on the court and at practice. We always are talking to each other on defense. … we’re like a family basically.”

“What makes this team so special is probably, I do have my sister [Molly] on this team and everyone else is basically like a sister to me,” Roberts said. “We’re like a family.”

Ness finished with seven points and nine rebounds. Molly Roberts had eight points and six rebounds, while Claire Allen had four points and three rebounds.

Plano (1-2) did not score in the first quarter and trailed 26-4 at the half.

Senior Grace Stevenson led the Reapers with nine points and three rebounds. Kayah Myles finished with three points and six rebounds. Myia DeBolt had two points.

“It means everything. They’re so excited [to be playing a season],” Lay said. “We have a whole bunch of things stacked up against us right now. They’re happy to be here. I probably said that two or three times tonight, ‘Look, things aren’t going our way as a program right now, but we’re playing. We have to carry the load for everybody right now because there’s some that are not with us that want to be here and would do anything to be here right now.’ ”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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