By Scott Halasz
BEAVERCREEK — Sitting on the bench with a torn meniscus, Kayla Shields came to a revelation while watching her teammates play.
“I realized how much I loved the game,” the 5-foot-10 Beavercreek senior said.
That passion for the game and the associated desire to get back on the basketball court fueled an off-season workout regimen that has helped Shields turn into one of the best long-range shooters in the Greater Western Ohio Conference and a pretty tough player in the paint.
And not by coincidence at all, Shields’ resurgence has helped Beavercreek start 8-2 and emerge as one of the teams to beat in southwest Ohio.
“It was probably one of the hardest things I ever had to,” Shields said of having to sit out for 11 games after suffering the injury in a game at Centerville. “It made me want to play.”
As soon as she received clearance from the doctor, Shields hit the court. In addition to playing AAU ball in the summer, Shields was a gym rat.
“I had to put in extra work to get back to the level I was before,” she said. “I was lifting (weights) or running or I was at the gym shooting. I’d shoot probably like an hour. I felt like ever since I got hurt I wanted to prove to people coming off an injury that I could be better than I was before.”
Through nine games this season, Shields is second in the GWOC in 3-point shooting, making 11 of 20 for 55 percent; 12th in overall shooting making 34 of 70 shots (48.6 percent); and ninth with 98 points. She’s averaging 10.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, all improvements from last season and her first two seasons when she appeared in every game.
“I have a lot more confidence in myself than I did last season,” Shields said. “Obviously I worked really hard on shooting.”
Adding some strength has helped her battle a lot more competitively inside the paint.
“It helped me make my way through (for rebounds),” Shields said trying to be politically correct. In reality, her added strength has made it easier to clear bodies (within the rules of course) and grab loose balls.
While the points and rebounds are a welcomed addition to the Beavercreek team, Coach Ed Zink pointed to the things that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
“She’s not only a leader on the court, but off the court,” he said. “She’s the one kid that’s not afraid to get on the other kids … not in a mean way but in a very positive way. We lost that spark for a little while.”
But with the spark back, the Beavers — despite two straight road losses — are poised for a run at a GWOC title. And maybe more.
“This team has potential to be a very good team,” Zink said. “She’s obviously one of the big pieces of the puzzle.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.