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GIBSONBURG - The only thing noticeably absent from Mallory Fleming s basketball resume at Gibsonburg is a Suburban Lakes League championship.
Winning the SLL title would provide the perfect finish for one of the league s top players the past four years.
“We know what we want, we just have to go out and get it,” said Fleming, speaking for the rest of the Golden Bears about winning the league. “This would be the first one, so that would make it special.”
Fleming has been special. The 5-10 senior has been a contributor for the Golden Bears since her freshman year when they finished second in the league. With each season her contributions have increased to the point where she s been the focal point, offensively and defensively, for the Golden Bears the past two seasons.
As a junior, Fleming averaged a league-leading double-double, 18 points and 14 rebounds per game, as Gibsonburg went 13-8 overall and finished third in the SLL at 9-5. She s averaging a team-leading 16.7 points (third in the SLL) and a league-leading 12.8 rebounds an outing this season.
A state-qualifier in track and field and the leading hitter on the Golden Bears volleyball team for a couple of years, Fleming s high productivity on the basketball court is another example of her making the most of her physical abilities. Fleming is not one to give less than 100-percent effort.
“She s a very good athlete. She s quick with long arms and she jumps well,” Gibsonburg coach Shawn Ginnan said. “She s got a very good work ethic, too, and that helps.
“She s continued to play hard even after her freshman year when it was a given she would be playing on varsity for the rest of her career.”
Twice Fleming has grabbed 20 rebounds in a game. Not only is she in position to end up leading the SLL in scoring and rebounding for the second year in a row, she s also leading the Golden Bears by averaging four steals and four blocks a contest.
Ginnan marvels at how Fleming has been able to succeed even though she s basically played her entire career out of position as the Golden Bears post player.
“She s playing against kids that are stronger and have much more weight,” Ginnan said. “She s been able to get away with it because she s so quick.
“She s been very adaptable. Whatever we ve needed her to do she s been willing to do it.”
Asked to score, Fleming has. Called on to rebound, she s positioned herself to get the job done. Defending opposing teams top players, she s been first in line.
Since Fleming decided in August she d play volleyball for the University of Findlay next fall, playing basketball to try to impress college basketball recruiters became a non-issue this season.
Besides enjoying the game, the quest for a league championship drew her back for one final season.
“I just love it,” she said. “I m a sports freak. It wouldn t be part of my life if I didn t play basketball this year and I d be letting a lot of people down if I didn t play.”
Gibsonburg (7-4, 6-2 SLL) is challenging Eastwood (8-4, 7-1 SLL) for first place in the league. The Golden Bears are coming off a disappointing 42-36 loss to Genoa on Tuesday night in which Fleming was held to 13 points. They hope to bounce back from the loss when they play tomorrow night at Woodmore.
However, Fleming s final shot at winning a league championship has produced more memorable moments than forgettable ones for the Golden Bears. In particular, a 59-31 drubbing of Eastwood in the team s final game on their old gym floor stands out. The Golden Bears began playing in the school s new gym located in the new school after the holiday break.
Julie Beaschler paced the Golden Bears with 31 points while Fleming finished with eight in the decisive win.
“We beat them by 28 points and we weren t expecting that,” Fleming said. “We were just hoping to play well enough to beat them. I just remember playing my heart out. It didn t matter who scored the points.”41.38454 -83.32072