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Shaler's Schott shines in transition year

| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, 11:00 p.m.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Shaler girls basketball players (left to right) Kayla Seidl, Allie Graf and Jacey Schott

Jacey Schott didn't have the typical resume for providing veteran leadership. The 5-foot-8 guard was the Shaler girls basketball team's lone senior, but was far from the top of the list in playing experience.

Schott didn't have any.

In a transition year for the Titans, Schott's career arc taught her teammates a lesson about perseverance.

Schott patiently waited for her chance to play varsity and felt she had something to prove.

“It was very frustrating,” Schott said. “Everyone takes their turn on JV and I'm not different. ... Because I had such a close bond with my teammates, it was a no-brainer to stay.”

Schott wouldn't be alone in her situation.. Allie Graf, a 6-1 junior forward, and Kayla Seidl, a 5-5 junior guard, also made their varsity debuts.

Gradual improvement didn't lead to a playoff berth for Shaler (10-12, 4-8), but first-year coach Cornelious Nesbit saw value.

“I think our depth,” Nesbit said about what improved. “We had a lot of injuries this year. We were forced to play some kids and do some things that we didn't plan for from the beginning.”

Graf wasn't sure what to expect. It was a year for everyone to learn together.

“The most difficult thing was just to play as a team consistently,” Graf said. “We are all decent, intelligent basketball players. We are very inconsistent as a whole. One night we'll make all of our shots, but the next night we can't make a shot.”

Despite the inconsistency, the Titans put themselves in a position to make a run at the playoffs. Shaler lost three section games by three points or less.

“I think the more tight games we play in, it becomes less nerve-wracking and it becomes more normal,” said Seidl, who averaged 4.6 points and 1.3 rebounds per game. “It becomes you going back to the game you love and enjoying what you're doing.”

Schott ended up having a platform to show off her hard work. She was one of three Shaler players — along with Rylee Donovan and Megan Lydon — who appeared in all 22 games. Schott ended up averaging 6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.

The self-described quiet kid also gained experience as a leader.

“It was tough for me to step up as a leader on the varsity team when there were kids with more experience than I had,” Schott said. “It didn't mean I couldn't lead by example with my effort, my positive attitude and other ways besides with my talent.”

Josh Rizzo is a freelance writer.

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