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Published: Wednesday, 3/17/2010

Pettisville's King a leader on, off court

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

PETTISVILLE - When it comes to leaders, Pettisville girls basketball coach Jason Waldvogel has seen few players who can match Erika King.

"Erika has really stepped into the role of leader this year," he said. "She leads by example. Erika and our other senior, Rachel Beck, both really know how to work hard, and our other players have learned from that.

"Everybody has confidence in Erika because, night-in and night-out, we depend on her."

And night-in and night-out, King has delivered. She led the Blackbirds in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game, and also ranked among the team leaders in rebounds (3.7 per game) and steals (2.1).

"When I became a senior, I knew people would look to me to make things happen," King said.

"I knew I had to look for opportunities to score, but I also knew I had to do certain other things for us to win."

While King has proven to be a fine shooter, making 60 percent of her shots from the floor - including 45 percent of the shots she takes from behind the 3-point arc - the stat that staggers her coach is that she leads the team in assists with 2.2 per contest.

"How many great scorers lead their team in assists?" Waldvogel asked. "Whenever she draws two or three defenders, she finds the open teammate."

King's fine play helped the Blackbirds post a 16-4 record during the regular season, including an 11-game win streak at the finish.

Pettisville earned a berth in the Division IV regionals, eventually losing to Riverdale 43-39 to finish 19-5, and the Blackbirds won the Buckeye Border Conference.

"That was one of our team goals this year," King admitted. "We knew to win the BBC we would have to beat Stryker, and both games were pretty exciting. It was fun to beat them at home because the place was packed.

"But then we had to play them on their home floor, and we knew that wouldn't be easy. We knew we would have to work hard, play together, and stay focused," she said.

The Blackbirds did just that, claiming a 43-38 victory that helped them finish the BBC season unbeaten at 10-0.

Pettisville's team performance led to many awards for King.

She was voted the BBC's most valuable player, was chosen Division IV girls player of the year by the District 7 coaches association, and shared Northwest District Division IV girls player of the year honors with Zefiryn Bryan of Delphos St. John's.

But Waldvogel said King's contributions to the team went beyond statistics and honors.

"People want to be around her off the floor," he said. "That's something you can't coach. Some times she's the instigator, but in a good way. She'll be the one behind the scenes getting everyone going, or putting everyone in a good mood.

"For example," he added, "one time we were coming home from a game, and on the bus the girls started singing country music songs. They claimed they don't like country music, but they sure seemed to know a lot of songs."

Waldvogel wouldn't discuss King's singing ability. But then again, she doesn't have to be the team's song leader; she already had done plenty to ensure the Blackbirds' success.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com,

or 419-724-6481.



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