Jan. 7, 2011
Northwest takes five-game win streak to Truman
By David Boyce
During the portion in practice when shooting games take place, guards Abby Henry and Gabby Curtis want one other player to team with them.
Shelly Martin is a pure three-point shooter for Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team.
Henry and Curtis want to win.
"She can shoot," Henry said. "We always play shooting games and you always want to be on Shelly's team. We actually try to get it to where we are on Shelly's team. Everybody else gets mad."
Actually, the Bearcats are one harmonious bunch. They have won five straight conference games. The guards are in perfect tune with the post players and the song they are playing on the court is a hit.
Shooting games aside, Henry, Curtis and Martin simply want to beat any opposing teams that cross their paths. They understand the play of post players Kyla Roehrig, Gentry Deitz and Tara Roach gives them the best chance.
The 81-73 victory over rival Missouri Western Wednesday evening was the perfect example of the importance of Northwest's strong post play.
While Curtis led the team with 22 points, it was the 13 rebounds pulled down by Dietz and the 12 by Roehrig that gave the Bearcats added confidence to take shots.
"Honestly, having them being there makes our job so much easier," Henry said. "I feel like when we drive we can pretty much toss it up there and one of them will go get it. It makes our job a lot easier because teams are worried about both of them inside. It frees all three of us on the outside."
The numbers prove it. Henry and Curtis have been the leading scorer or tied for the lead scorer four times. Martin has led three times and Roerhig also had led or tied three times for high-score honors.
In an 83-68 victory over William Jewell earlier this season, Curtis, Roehrig and Martin each scored 20.
"We are all trying to find each other," Henry said. "I think it is pretty neat how any of us can go off for 20 on any given night. It's fun to be surrounded with players like that."
Henry, who led the team in scoring last year, is again the team leader this season at 17.1 points per game.
"The nice thing about Abby is she doesn't have an ego," Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said. "She had six assists and two steals against Lincoln and didn't hit double figures and she was thrilled with that. She just wants to win."
Steinmeyer likes the quality each of his starting guards brings.
"They each have separate skills," he said. "Shelly is just a pure three-point shooter. Shelly can accomplish as much as we need for us by being a pure three-pointer shooter. She's terrific."
"Gabby is an unusual case. We tell her there are three arcs for her _ the three-point arc, the 14-foot arc and the 10-foot arc. If you work to get to the 10-foot arc you will average 20 points a game. It's that simple."
Northwest, 9-2 overall and 5-2 in the MIAA, heads into its next conference game 5:30 p.m. Saturday against Truman in Kirksville wanting to keep the good times rolling.
The Bearcats are tied for third with Missouri Southern. They have their eyes on first. They clearly came through the four road games to start MIAA play in pretty good shape. They went 2-2 in those road games, losing to first-place Emporia State and second-place Washburn.
"I think we could have been 3-1 with the talent we have on the team," Curtis said.
The Bearcats simply have confidence in each other. No single player believes she has to do it all in order for the team to win.
"Our chemistry right now is really great," Henry said. "I think that's one of the advantages we have right now."
Steinmeyer saw it right away when Roehrig, who is playing her first and only season with the Bearcats, started practicing with the team.
Martin threw a pass up to Roehrig and Roehrig put it in.
"Shelly's comment to her teammates was that was absolutely my favorite thing to do and here is a kid who roams the three-point line and hits all those three-pointers and she's saying that's my favorite thing to do," Steinmeyer said.
It's that kind of team chemistry that wins basketball games.
"It's definitely fun," Curtis said. "We get a good vibe off each other. When a person drives and dishes off to the other person it is great."
The Bearcats will return home to host Central Missouri Wednesday inside Bearcat Arena. Northwest will play six of its next nine games at home where the team is undefeated (7-0) this season.
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