Shaler guard plays larger than stature would indicate
The 2010 WPIAL Class AAAA girls basketball championship was a defining moment for the Shaler Lady Titans team.
The moment was big for the program, but the impact and life lesson that game held for one sophomore far outweighs the value of the trophy, medals and banner that came with it.
Courtney Bauer was that sophomore, and due to the circumstances of the game did not get to play that afternoon. But her work, and that of her teammates, leading up to that game is something she will never forget.
“Even though I didn't play, I was still a part of it,” Bauer said. “I remember it like it was yesterday. In practice (the reserves) played like Mt. Lebanon would have with a man-pressure (scheme). I don't think the starters would have been as prepared if we hadn't done that.”
That game is Bauer's favorite basketball memory, but it is far from her only athletic accomplishment. The speedy guard also is part of a section championship team in track and a WPIAL runner-up medal earned in part by her effort in the 100, 200, 400 and relay teams.
Bauer got her start in basketball by taking part in the Shaler camps hosted by then-coach Eric Mozzetti. As a student at St. Bonaventure, she started basketball in third grade. She said at one point she actually considered attending Oakland Catholic.
“My brother went to Shaler, and they had a good basketball program, so I tried it and it was great,” Bauer said.
At 5-foot-3, Bauer is the shortest in stature for Shaler. But in practice, she works against forward Andi Lydon, a 6-foot-1 sophomore forward.
“I have Andi box me out and work on my move to create space and get open,” Bauer said. “I love to rebound, and I do what I have to do to get them.”
Bauer worked her way up from practice player to role player to starter and made the journey over three seasons for three coaches.
As a sophomore, she played for Mozzetti, then as a junior she played under former Shaler star Melissa McQuade and now, as a senior, her coach is Neal Martin.
“The transition from coach Mozzetti to Melissa was not that much different,” Bauer said. “But coach Martin is different. He has us play more to our strengths, and we study film and adapt.”
Martin said Bauer is a star on the track team, but he is happy to have her services.
“She is a senior leader who leads by example and is a model student,” Martin said. “She helps out the little kids, and in practice she brings the same intensity as she does in games.
“She is a spark for us, and she guards the other team's best guard.”
Rather than hindering her development, Bauer said having three coaches has helped balance her game and how she looks at it.
“Melissa was young and a former college player who knew what we were going through,” she said. “Coach Mozzetti and Martin have a different structure and discipline.”
Martin said Bauer is a leader by example.
“She is a model student and helps with the little kids. she brings intensity to practice the same way she brings it to games,” Martin said.
Martin's message to the girls is to find a role and play that role.
“It does not matter if it is the sixth or seventh player, everyone knows what they have to do,” Bauer said.
Bauer is paired with point guard Carly Harris in the Lady Titans' backcourt for a solid combination of guards with different skill sets.
“It's weird how we can kind of read each other,” Bauer said. “I know when she is going to drive, so I can float out for a kickout. Carly is a really good point guard; she knows all the players and has a good relationship with them.”
As far as her future in sports, Bauer said her coach is keeping her mind open to college basketball, but she is looking a little harder at the track aspect of her skill set.
“I love track and want to run track in college,” she said. “I don't know right now. I may look at a Division III school where I could do both.
“But education is what is really important, and I want to study communications and go into public relations or broadcasting.”