Wilson's Steinle can create

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

WILSON -- Wilson High School junior Karlie Steinle displayed her impressive skill set throughout Tuesday's 65-31 win against Natoma. Early in the first quarter, Steinle worked around a defender, slightly adjusted in mid-air and sank a layup. She scored three more times in the quarter, including a jumper, and a play on the left side where she made a slight shoulder move to gain separation from the defense.

In the second quarter, Steinle had the ball on the left wing against Natoma's all-state junior Danica Casey. Steinle drove left around Casey, stopped and hit a mid-range jumper. Later in the quarter, she hit a 3-pointer.

A few seconds before halftime, Steinle had the ball after a steal. She quickly went past Natoma sophomore Tatum Pfortmiller and hit a shot.

Early in the third quarter, Steinle collected a steal on the right side and worked around two defenders for a basket.

She also scored off defensive rebounds, in transition and against defenders. Steinle showed a knack for using the backboard effectively and consistently faked and drove around defenders to create her own shot. She finished with 27 points on 12-of-15 shooting and 11 rebounds to continue one of the top careers in Dragon history.

"She is probably as good as we have ever had," Wilson coach Rod Seehafer, in his 35th year with the program, said.

Steinle, who averages 21.3 points and 10 rebounds this winter, ranks in the top-10 in Kansas in points and free throws made, according to maxpreps.com. Steinle has already tallied 1,010 career points and Seehafer believes she will eventually break the school scoring record.

Steinle has led Wilson to back-to-back state tournament appearances, the first time in Dragon history the girls' basketball program has made two straight state appearances.

Last season, Wilson finished third in Class 1A, Division II, the second-best finish in the school's girls' basketball history. This winter, Steinle has scored nearly half her team's points and has led the Dragons to a 10-3 record and No. 2 ranking in Class 1A, Division II.

"It's an honor," Steinle said of being mentioned among the Dragons' all-time greats. "I started when I was in third grade and I have just always worked hard to get better every day and I do want to play when I get into college."

Steinle has helped form one-third of a dominant offensive trio in the former Twin Lakes League, now part of the Northern Plains League, home to many of the state's smallest schools. Steinle, Casey and Lincoln junior Jenna Farris all average at least 19 points a game and rank in the top-seven in Kansas in points per contest.

"It's a lot of fun," Steinle said. "It makes you work harder and obviously play harder."

Steinle and Farris played together on the Waconda Lakers summer team, a traveling squad that went 14-6 and played in several high-profile tournaments. Casey sometimes played with Steinle on Wilson's summer team, too.

"They grew up through junior high and when they were in junior high, same thing," Seehafer said. "It's just unbelievable that one small little league produced three girls that can score the ball like these three girls can. It's unreal."

Steinle's years of basketball have developed her all-around game. She played with her two older brothers growing up, including Kenny, a senior on last year's Dragon team that finished 20-2.

"It was fun," she said. "We are great competitors and we would always want to outdo the other one. Like last year, when he played basketball, we would always see like who would have more rebounds and points and stuff like that."

Steinle has often worked by herself on shot faking, a move she enjoys. Her freshman year, Jamie Weil coached the Dragons and focused on finishing inside. The work helped Steinle average 14.7 points per game as a freshman and 19.9 a contest last season. Steinle has never shied away from defenders or drawing fouls.

"I just have always liked to create contact," Steinle said. "My freshman year, ... that's all we did was just go to the bucket, go to the bucket constantly."

As well, Steinle has improved her free throw and 3-point shooting each season. As a freshman, she sank just 5-of-25 (20 percent) of treys, averaged 5.3 foul shots a game and shot 60 percent from the free throw line.

Sophomore year, she improved to 20-of-58 (34.5 percent) on treys, averaged 7.4 foul shots a game and shot 77.7 percent from the free throw line.

This season, Steinle is up to 10-of-26 (38.4 percent) on 3s, averaging 8.4 free throws a game and shooting 79 percent from the line.

"In junior high, she was a slasher and scorer like that and she has just gotten better and better," Seehafer said. "Her outside game has gotten better and her free throw game has gotten better. She has shot a lot of free throws."

Against Natoma, Steinle was 1-of-3 from the 3-point line and 2-of-4 from the foul stripe. However, she finished 11-of-12 on 2-point shots. Her ability to score in a variety of ways, especially with her moves and fakes, even worked against Casey.

"Our coaches always tell you don't leave the ground," Casey said. "Stay straight up and you don't want to foul. But then again, she will try to get you in the air. It's pretty good."

Once she reached the rim, Steinle normally made her slight adjustment in mid-air, a move she does subconsciously.

"I am probably preparing that I am going to get hit sometimes because I am used to that," she said.

While in mid-air, Steinle released and caromed the ball cleanly on the backboard. It's technique she has honed day after day for years - and created one of Kansas' top players.

"Every day in practice, you hear, 'High off the corner of the square on the backboard,'" she said. "We have always practiced that."