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Published: Tuesday, 1/11/2011

Steady play puts Genoa girls on unbeaten streak

Genoa's girls basketball season took off in a way that would make any coach feel more at ease than restless.

The Comets soared to a 10-0 mark to help Genoa's first-year coach Mike Destazio feel good about the direction Genoa is heading as it enters the second half of the season.

"They've done everything I expected and plus some," Destazio said. "They've worked as hard as any group I've coached and done what you'd expect out of a team as a coach."

Destazio took over a team anchored by seven seniors.

It's a team that proved to be successful a year ago, rolling to a solid 15-7 overall record that included a 9-3 Suburban Lakes League showing.

It's also a team that returned its top three scorers from last season: seniors Julie Swartzmiller, Jessica Feller, and Alyssa Meis.

The reliable scoring trio haven't skipped a beat this season.

Swartzmiller, a 5-foot-9 guard-forward, has maintained an 11.1 points a game scoring average during the first half of this season.

Julie Swartzmiller tries to get past Woodmore's Andrea Bouldin in a Genoa home game. Swartzmiller, a senior, is one of the top three scorers on the Comets' team. Julie Swartzmiller tries to get past Woodmore's Andrea Bouldin in a Genoa home game. Swartzmiller, a senior, is one of the top three scorers on the Comets' team.

Feller, a 5-10 forward-center, has led the way this season with a team-best 13.2 points while ripping down an average of 10.0 rebounds per contest.

Meis, a 5-10 post, has accounted for 9.0 points a game and 8.4 rebounds a game this season.

Destazio says he believes the steady play and leadership coming from Swartzmiller, Feller, and Weis are indicative of how the Comets have streaked through their schedule with a balanced team of contributors.

"There's no real true standout because they share the basketball," Destazio said. "I've got seven seniors who pretty much are playing equal time."

Bailee Adams (5-10, post), Rachel Johnson (5-8, forward), Emily Mock (5-6, forward) and Brandi Schimming (5-5, guard) are the remaining seniors on the team. Destazio credits them with helping establish a winning environment.

However, the Comets coach said Swartzmiller, Feller, and Meis are leaned on as the leaders and each has a particular role to fill, as well as bringing a unique talent to the mix.

"It's hard not to put Julie on a pedestal just a little bit because she's one of the most athletic players I've coached, who has really good basketball skills," the Comets coach said of Swartzmiller. "Our offense starts with Julie because she has the ability to break down a defense."

Swartzmiller, who has averaged 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 steals, and 4.1 assists a game this season, believes the Comets have been successful because they're all on the same page as an unselfish group working for the same purpose.

She says they have what it takes to finish the season as SLL champions after finishing as runner-up last season.

"Everyone is getting their touches," she said. "We work it inside and outside. It's definitely about playing as a team."

The Comets outscored their opponents by an average of 19 points (55-36) during the first half of the season. Feller's work around the basket has been instrumental in defeating opponents by nearly 20 points a contest.

"Her strength for us this season is she can play with her back to the basket, and she usually guards the best post player," Destazio said of Feller.

Meis, who has provided 8.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, is perhaps the most versatile player on the roster, according to Destazio. "What makes her a great asset is her ability to play any position on the floor," he said.

However, what makes the Comets a team worth talking about is quite clear.

You could say for the Comets, the sky's the limit.

Contact Donald Emmons at: demmons@theblade.com or 419-724-6302

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