By Scott Halasz
RIVERSIDE — Quizzed about her new-found free throw prowess, Carroll standout Amanda Schroeder didn’t have to think long to explain her sudden success.
All she had to do was remember former coach Rob Berry, who died over the summer after a battle with cancer.
“He was really big on foul shots, making them,” Schroeder said. “I’ve been making them this year because I’ve been focusing more on them because I knew he would want me to.”
That motivation is as good a reason as any for the 6-foot senior, who has upped the ante from 70 percent last season to 77.8 percent nine games into this season. She had been over 80 percent until a mini-slump the last two games brought that percentage down a few ticks.
Schroeder’s work at the line has been a difference maker at times for the 9-0 Patriots, who are in game two of the Wapakoneta Holiday Tournament today. Against Fairmont, Schroeder hit 12 of 13 in a 40-39 win. She made seven of eight in a 48-40 squeaker against Bellbrook and against league foe Roger Bacon she made 15 of 18 in a 60-48 win.
“I just practiced them in the summer,” Schroeder said. “I feel like we focus more on it this year. We weren’t the greatest free-throw shooting team last year. That’s one thing we had to improve on as a team.”
Schroeder’s dedication at the line is emblematic of her overall work ethic, which has helped her up her scoring average from 15 points per game last season to better than 23 points a game this season — tops in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed. She has not failed to score at least 17 in a game and poured in a career high 35 against Roger Bacon.
“Amanda works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen,” said Coach Cecelia Grosselin, a long-time assistant who took the reins of the Carroll team this season. “When she came in as a freshman, she made a commitment to the sport. I can’t think of a time when she didn’t have a ball. She’s gotten better, and better, and better. “
As a freshman off the bench, Schroeder averaged five points and 4.7 rebounds per game. After her sister, Madison, graduated, Schroeder became more of a presence inside and scored 14.3 per game, while grabbing 10.3 rebounds as a sophomore. Last season Schroeder started all 22 contests in which she played and scored 15 per game, while grabbing 10.5 rebounds.
With No. 2 scorer Kate Hickey and No. 5 scorer Olivia Seymour gone to graduation, Schroeder — one of three team captains — felt like her teammates would look to her even more this season to help account for the missing 18.5 points.
“I knew I was going to have to step it up a lot this year,” she said.
But she quickly deflected credit to the rest of the Patriots.
“Everyone on our team can score,” Schroeder said. “I get a lot of offensive rebounds, that’s how I score a lot of the points I get. Just crash the boards. That creates a lot of points. (And) my teammates get the ball to me in positions where I can score well.”
In reality, everyone creates for each other. Schroeder’s ability inside opens out the outside. And when the Patriots are hitting from the outside, it makes it tougher to double-team Schroeder.
“Her teammates have made her better and she has made her teammates better,” Grosselin said. “They know they need each other.”
Just like Schroeder knew she needed to improve her free throw shooting.
“We want to do good this season for Rob,” she said. “We were all really close with him. Want to make him proud.”
By making free throws.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.