Schuler, Raiders dream of unbeaten season
At 10-0, South Range is enjoying one of the school's finest years on the court.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NORTH LIMA -- Crystal Schuler may have had the shortest celebration in history after scoring her 1,000th career point in last March's Division III sectional final win against United.
"Coach [Don Feren] called timeout and I got to enjoy it for about five seconds," Schuler said. "But it did mean a lot. I definitely enjoyed it."
She's enjoying this season even more.
The 6-foot-1 senior post player is averaging 19 points per game for the undefeated Raiders (10-0, 5-0 Inter-County League).
The Raiders shared last year's ICL title with Mineral Ridge.
Thursday, the Raiders play at Western Reserve against the Blue Devils, the ICL's other unbeaten team in league play.
"This may seem far-fetched, but I'd like to go 20-0," Schuler, a four-year starter said. "We've never had this big of a streak."
Started as a freshman: Schuler began playing basketball at age 5 and started at guard her freshman year for the Raiders.
Last year, South Range advanced to the district semifinal before Schuler got hurt in the first half against Newton Falls, losing 59-57.
This year, the Raiders will try to win their first outright ICL title since the 1997-98 season.
South Range has gotten solid play from several players, including seniors Becky Skowron, Jenn Toth and Kristen Skrinyer. Sophomore Jessie Clayton and junior Kelly James add scoring help.
But if South Range advances deep in this year's tournament, Schuler will have to lead.
"I don't think anyone can stop her when she comes ready to play," Feren said. "She's a real streak shooter, but when she gets hot she makes it look very effortless. We just get her the ball and she'll score."
Third on scoring list: Schuler entered the season in third place on the school's all-time scoring list behind Jackie Kenney (1,820 points) and Robin Thayer (1,712).
She earned All-ICL and All-NEO first team honors last year and was second-team All-Ohio. She also has a 3.8 grade point average and is in National Honor Society.
"She's not a bragger," Feren said. "She's more of a quiet-type leader. It's nice to have someone like that."
Since converting from guard early in her career, Schuler has improved her inside game but still needs to get stronger and quicker if she wants to play in college, Feren said.
"She has a very nice touch on the ball," Feren said. "She can do all the things that colleges want."
Mount Union and Baldwin-Wallace are recruiting her, but she isn't sure about her college plans.
"I don't know if I want to play," she said. "I want to concentrate on getting a degree. Wherever I go will have to have a good academic program."
Whatever happens, Schuler is grateful for the role basketball has played in her life.
"It's always something that will be a part of me," she said. "It helps me take out my frustrations and it helps me bond with my friends. It's something I'll always love to do."