Girls basketball: Boone’s Claudia Cooper makes quick switch to point guard
By LaMond Pope 648-3090 or firstname.lastname@example.org February 13, 2013 10:56PM
Boone Grove's Claudia Cooper (right) just gets a hand on the ball in an attempt to steal it from Kout's RebeKah Case during the PCC girls tournament semifinals held at Morgan Township High School on Friday January 18, 2013. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
1A Caston Regional
Morgan Township vs. Oregon-Davis, 9:30 a.m.; FW Canterbury vs. West Central, 11:30 a.m.; Championship, 7 p.m.
2A Rochester Regional
Westview vs. FW Luers, 9:30 a.m.; Whiting vs. Boone Grove, 11:30 a.m.; Championship, 7 p.m.
3A Rensselaer Regional
Benton Central vs. Rensselaer, 10 a.m.; Griffith vs. Plymouth, noon; Championship, 7:30 p.m.
4A valpo Regional
Merrillville vs. Lake Central, 9:30 a.m.; Penn vs. Warsaw, 11:30 a.m.; Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Updated: March 15, 2013 1:38PM
The first thing Boone Grove girls basketball coach Candy Wilson looks for in a point guard is someone who is vocal.
The player also has to be able to recognize when the opponent changes defenses and make the proper adjustments.
Wilson wants a coach on the floor.
With Boone Grove point guard Brittany Slicker unavailable because of an ACL injury, Wilson needed someone to fill the void.
Senior Claudia Cooper stepped in and helped the Wolves to a sectional title. Boone Grove (17-6) faces Whiting (20-3) in a Class 2A Rochester Regional semifinal Saturday.
“Claudia has been our unsung hero,” Wilson said. “It’s one thing to have an entire summer to get ready for that, but to pick up that responsibility right when the season starts, that’s a lot to take on.”
The 5-foot-10 Cooper is a four-year varsity player. Up until this season, she had been mostly used in the post. So running the show at the point was quite the adjustment.
“I was very scared. I was a post. I had to change my game,” Cooper said. “I was willing to do it for the team. I was also kind of excited because it was a new job for me to do for my team.”
Cooper is averaging 6.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
“The most important thing is to see the floor. And take control of your team,” Cooper said. “I try to be the biggest leader I can.”
Area basketball skills trainer Chris Buggs helped ease Cooper’s transition to point guard. Buggs said he’s worked with Cooper for a little more than two years. They spent the offseason focused on ball-handling drills.
“The guard game is really different from the post game. But she’s a hard worker. She’s very determined,” Buggs said. “She was very determined all summer to be a really good point guard. That’s all we worked on. She gets all the credit in the world for her work ethic.
“It can be a struggle when you go from posting up and rebounding to running the team and being the communicator. That could be a challenge. I’m really happy for her growth, her mental growth.”
Buggs said Cooper is the type of player who will have a game Friday and then come in Saturday to work on her game.
“She is very driven. I don’t know when she sleeps,” Wilson said. “She’s got more energy than any person I’ve ever met in my life. She is truly a self-made basketball player. She has worked to get to where she is at.”
It’s led to a year Cooper will never forget.
“This season is by far my favorite season,” she said. “I love every teammate that I have. We’re an exciting group to be around. We’ve worked very hard to get to where we are at now.”