Weaver a pleasant surprise for N-T girls hoops team
But there is no denying that she has been one of the biggest, if not the most pleasant, surprises for the North Tonawanda girls basketball team this season.
Weaver, a sophomore, has averaged 12.5 points per game during her first month of varsity and has given coach Luke Vogel another positive building block for the future.
Somewhat stunned by her strong start, Weaver still can’t quite pinpoint the exact reason why things have fallen into place so quickly. She’s just thankful that she has been able to help.
“I was a little nervous,” Weaver said with a modest smile. “I knew what I could do, but I didn’t really expect I’d be doing so well so soon.”
Vogel agreed about the rapid pace of Weaver’s growth being an early bonus.
“(It’s) sooner than what we were expecting,” he said. “Although I say that, but really from a point contribution (stance), we really didn’t know what to expect from her.”
Considering where Weaver was just one short year ago it’s easy to understand why Vogel wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his young forward.
The start to Weaver’s junior varsity career was put on hold after she sustained a stress fracture to her left foot during the first week of tryouts.
Sidelined until Jan.1, 2012, Weaver still seems to have some pent up energy from that lost time.
“Last year, I was out for half the season,” Weaver said. “So it’s just kind of built up. I really wanted to do well this year.”
Once she returned to action, Weaver’s skill set was obvious. But after the time lost due to injury, it wasn’t until summer league play that Weaver truly showed what she is capable of on the court. She said it helped build her confidence.
Weaver’s rapid growth as a player really has been a nice surprise for the Jacks as they continue to find their identity as a team. Already an intelligent student in the classroom, Weaver has also exhibited a mental toughness that has impressed Vogel the most.
“We knew she could handle the ball with both hands,” Vogel said. “We knew she was capable of knocking down 15-to-18 foot jump shots. But how quickly she has picked up the timing and understanding of situations has been a fantastic surprise.”
Weaver’s strong basketball I.Q. helps her instantly understand and follow through on instructions during practice. Vogel said that Weaver’s strongest trait is her ability to focus, adjust and apply advice in the heat of the moment during a game.
“She truly listens to what’s being asked of her,” Vogel said. “What’s being said to her in the flow of the game, she takes those five to 10 seconds, controls her emotions and listens to what you are saying. I think a lot of coaches would tell you that’s the exception and not the norm.”
Vogel also was fast to compare Weaver to former Jacks’ standout Sarah Hansen. While Weaver has similar ball handling skills and the slick shot of Hansen, the big difference is that Weaver has the benefit of experienced teammates Kali Marsh and Rachelle Judy around her.
With Judy carrying the ball up court and Marsh, the top scoring threat in the paint, Weaver can grow without all of the weight on her shoulders, like it was on Hansen’s shoulders.
“The girls are great and they’re very supportive,” Weaver said.