Tigers' Ingalsbe finding her niche
By CONOR NICHOLL
Fort Hays State University women's basketball coach Tony Hobson preaches players and coaches can't control certain parts of the game, such as officials and opponents. However, FHSU has two areas it can control: attitude and effort. Senior forward Tera Ingalsbe is strong in both, and has become the ideal reserve for the 5-0 Tigers, who are receiving votes in the NCAA Division II poll.
"Never one time is she concerned about whether she is starting or not," Hobson said. "She is a great teammate. She is a perfect bench player, but she probably deserves to start."
Ingalsbe, a second-year transfer from Cloud County Community College, averaged 7.5 points and 3.9 rebounds in 16.1 minutes last season as center Kate Lehman's backup. In the summer, Ingalsbe focused more on fitness and weight training and has collected 13.2 points and 5.4 rebounds in just 16.8 minutes a contest this winter.
"I really love my role," Ingalsbe said.
On Thursday, Fort Hays travels to University of Central Missouri in the MIAA opener. The 6-1 Jennies stand No. 5 nationally. Start time is 5:30 p.m. in Warrensburg, Mo. Senior Katelyn Edwards leads the Tigers with 17 points per game, while sophomore Chelsea Mason averages 15.2 a contest.
Lehman is also at 13.2 with team-bests in rebounds (11.2) and blocks (30).
Ingalsbe has now played in 34 career Fort Hays contests, but has never started a game. However, Ingalsbe, known for her outgoing personality, always wears a smile.
"A lot of people that come off the bench, if they are not effective off the bench, it's because of their mindset," Hobson said. "The hardest thing to do in basketball is to come off the bench and be effective. She just isn't concerned with anything else other than team success.
"If she is out there fine, if she is not, she is supporting on the bench," he added. "I am really happy with not only her effort and, she is getting great production, but just her overall attitude toward things and toward the team is really great."
Hobson called Ingalsbe a role model for the younger reserves.
"When you have a senior that's one of your main players coming off the bench, how can you as a freshman or a sophomore -- if you are coming off the bench -- how can you feel like you should be starting when you look at here at this example," Hobson said.
Ingalsbe, a Wamego graduate, played her first season at Johnson County Community College before she transferred to Cloud two years ago and FHSU last winter. For the first time, Ingalsbe remained at a school for more than a year. The familiarity helped Ingalsbe know what program and workout she needed.
In the summer, Ingalsbe's parents asked if she wanted to come home. She decided to stay in Hays and work out with some of the other girls and a trainer Hobson had for the players.
"I know as a senior, you have to step up a lot more, and be a role model off the court and on the court and show my commitment," she said.
The 6-foot Ingalsbe wasn't into lifting weights before this summer, but wanted to make 2013-14 "her best season."
"I should have been doing that the last three years," she said. "...Weights, I kind of turned it away, but then after this summer, I am starting to get addicted to it.
"I tell my family, 'When can I go to the weight room?,' she added. "When we go to the weight room, I am happy to be in there. It's just kind of the adrenaline, and the hormones that you let off."
Ingalsbe was one of the MIAA's most efficient shooters last season at 47 percent from the field, 85 percent from the foul line and 31 percent (11 of 36) from 3-point range. This year, she is shooting 61 percent from the field, 74 percent from the foul line and 2 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Ingalsbe has connected with freshman Nikola Kacperska, a pickup from Poland and the backup point guard. Normally, the two play at the same time. Kacperska is tied for the team-high with 23 assists. Seven of Ingalsbe's 25 field goals have come from Kacperska assists, including three in a career-high 18 points versus Newman University on Nov. 26.
"In the locker room, she told me one day, 'Tera, you are like the magnet to me," Ingalsbe said. "'When I am here, you are there, and it just goes through people's hands.'
"I said, 'Nikola, I don't know where it comes from. I am just there,'" she added. "But I have always known since she has been here, I just knew that she will dish the ball whenever she can."