FORT WAYNE – Shayla Sutorius learned basketball from some of the best players from Bishop Luers past and present, and it has certainly helped to develop the Knights sophomore.
Sutorius grew up watching Deshaun Thomas and Evan Blackmon as the former Luers standouts participated in a program run by her grandmother and coached by former Luers assistant coach John Smiley at Bethlehem Lutheran.
It just seemed natural to go over there and pick up a ball, and they would play with me, Sutorius said. They inspired me. They were all bigger and rougher than me, and I tried to fit in. It made me want to play basketball and learn about it and see what they were doing, and I wanted to do it. So thats how I got started.
The 5-foot-11 sophomore guard continued to grow her game at the Old Fort YMCA, Towles and Miami Middle School before coming to Luers as part of a freshman class that also included Emma Wolfe and Taya Andrews, among others.
It was as a freshman that she was again tutored by veteran players like now-seniors Addie Reimbold and Erin and Allison Butler.
I kind of came in scared because I didnt know how it would be on varsity, but the upperclassmen kind of took me in and helped me out a lot, Sutorius said. It was getting the feel for things.
The guidance is paying off as Sutorius is averaging 10.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.5 steals for the Knights (8-3) heading into this weeks SAC tournament.
The biggest thing I have seen is maturity, Luers coach Denny Renier said of Sutorius. She came in this year and has been working much harder than she did as a freshman.
I dont think her stats are much different because of the balance we have on the team. She has a lot of talent to go with it, but her leadership she has shown and the development of her work ethic has been the biggest thing.
Sutorius is more comfortable playing for Luers in her second season.
It is more of a natural feeling now, she said. Sometimes I will step up and tell girls what to do. The more one of us knows, the more we will say it. We are not really intimidated or scared anymore.
Renier had been aware of Sutorius but didnt get a lot of chances to watch her play until she came to Luers. He has also seen her change this year.
With most kids, it is the defensive side, Renier said. When they are in grade school and scoring 20 points a game, (defense is) a forgotten part of their game. People are patting them on the back and saying how great they are because of the points they score, which is natural.
Theres not enough emphasis put on defense, and when you are in high school and are a freshmen playing varsity ball, it will show up pretty quickly. She had some problems last year, and a lot of those kids are trying to find their way defensively and trying to improve and recognize situations that come up during the course of a game.