Amherst senior Sydney Roule has an impressive list of accomplishments as a high school basketball player.
She has scored more than 1,200 points to become the second-leading scorer in school history, she earned a Division I scholarship to continue her career at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and she’s been a leader on and off the court for a Comets team that went 18-4 this season to earn the No. 1 seed in the Division I Elyria district tournament.
It would be easy for Roule to rest on her laurels and coast toward college with her spot in Amherst basketball history already assured.
But Amherst coach Kevin Collins said, that’s not Roule’s way. Instead, she’s working even harder in practice as the top-seeded Comets get ready to begin their quest for a district championship when they host a sectional final against either Elyria or Valley Forge on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“I don’t want the season to end. That’s why I’m going so hard in practice,” Roule said. “I know getting up for practice is tough this time of the season but I want to win districts so I need to work even harder to help motivate the other girls to work hard, too.”
Roule has had a senior season most players could only dream of, averaging 20 points, 6.2 rebounds, three assists and three steals while shooting 36 percent from beyond the 3-point arc and 85.5 percent from the free throw line.
“It doesn’t really seem real to me,” Roule said. “I know I’ve done all of these things but I feel the need to keep working and getting better and better. It’s awesome that I’ve achieved all that I have but I want to achieve so much more.”
Not only has Roule become a more prolific scorer this season, increasing her scoring by 25 percent a game from her junior year, she’s done it while taking fewer shots per game as Jayla Hall, Kate Iliff and Kamryn Dziak have all taken on bigger roles in the offense.
“When you have a great player and a leader like Sydney this is what we expect from her,” Collins said. “She helps the team in so many ways. Not only does she score, she’s getting rebounds, making the extra pass to get her teammates involved, shutting down the opposing team’s top player on defense — Sydney will do whatever it takes to help our team win.”
Not only has Roule grown as a leader over the past four years, her game has evolved with the changing style of the Comets program. In her first two years, Amherst played a lot of half-court offense to take advantage of Brooke Wallace’s presence in the post. The last two years, the Comets have played a fast-paced offense to take advantage of the speed and outside shooting capabilities of Roule and their other guards.
“My first two years we slowed the ball down a lot, worked it into the post and played inside-out,” Roule said. “Now it’s go-go-go, always pushing the ball. It’s been a big change but I like it.”
Roule has proven she can be successful in any style. As a sophomore, she averaged 17.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
But it isn’t just on the basketball court that Roule has displayed a stellar work ethic. She carries a 3.76 GPA and is a volunteer for the Special Olympics.
Collins also recalled how on the day, earlier this season, when Roule scored her 1,000th career point, many of the girls in Amherst’s youth and travel basketball programs were on hand with signs and banners to support her. Roule later took the time to try to attend at least one game of each of those girls’ teams to repay the support they had shown for her.
“That was huge for Sydney to make time, on her own, to make an effort to watch those girls play,” Collins said. “All of those girls have someone to look up to in Sydney Roule. That’s what it takes to build a championship program. There are a whole group of girls who want to be Sydney Roule and if one or two of them can come close, Amherst is going to have a successful program for a long time.”
“Sydney has set a blueprint if you want to have the success she’s had in high school, she’s shown the path that it takes,” Coliins said. “Hard work, getting a lot of shots up in the summer and working hard every day in practice.”
Roule and her teammates are still stinging from last year’s two-point district semifinal loss to Avon. And Roule knows that nothing that’s happened in the past matters now that just three wins stand between Amherst and its dreams of a district title.
“It’s tournament time, anything can happen, anyone can step up and win,” Roule said. “The last four years have been a ton of fun. I don’t want it to end. I’m going to miss high school basketball, coach Collins, (assistant) coach (Jarrod) Stevens, my teammates … I’m going to miss them all.”
If Roule and the rest of the Comets can keep working hard for four more weeks, those finals goodbyes may not come until mid-March and they just might be said in Columbus, site of the Division I state tournament.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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