We’re entering the final stretch of the 2021 basketball regular season.
Teams have played to varying degrees so far, but several players have stood out throughout the season.
Here are some players to keep your eye on with the regular season winding down and the postseason on the horizon.
Katie Sheeler, Otto-Eldred
As a sophomore, Katie Sheeler has exploded onto the scene for the Lady Terrors, leading the squad with 16.5 points per game.
But Sheeler’s sophomore campaign shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone considering a strong freshman year that saw her average 9.1 points per game.
This year, Sheeler has further established herself as a dominant force at point guard on a 12-3 O-E team that has recorded wins over Cameron County, Coudersport and Elk Catholic.
Along with scoring double figures in all but two games so far this season, Sheeler’s also been a key on defense with 4.5 steals per game.
She leads the Lady Terrors in total points (248), assists (17), steals (68) and 3-point shooting percentage (40%).
It’s hard to believe a sophomore can have this much of an impact on a varsity team, but Sheeler is just getting started and O-E will be tough to beat when Sheeler and the rest of her teammates are at the top of their game.
Hannah Lary, Bradford
Lary was absent from the lineup for Bradford’s first three games and it showed when the team started winless during that span.
While her void couldn’t be filled, the Lady Owls still managed to earn a victory over Smethport for their first win of the year and received high-quality performances from Alanna Benson, who scored a season-high 18 points on six 3-pointers in a loss to Otto-Eldred.
Since Lary has returned, she’s been a force to be reckoned with, even with opposing defenses keying in on both her and Benson.
Through eight games so far this season, Lary, a first team Big 30 All-Star last year, is averaging 16.1 points per game and leading the team in scoring.
She surpassed 1,000 career points in a loss to Port Allegany in her second game back and has finished in double figures in six of the eight games she’s played in this year.
Bradford coach Bob Hannon knows the team must get all-around contributions and not rely solely on Lary’s scoring ability, but that’s a testament to Lary’s impact and ability on the court.
Bree Garzel, Port Allegany
There’s no denying Garzel’s importance to Port Allegany as she’s currently averaging 22.2 points per game this season.
Garzel has been instrumental to the Lady Gators’ success and leads the team in total points (288, +200 more than the next highest scorer), assists (57) and steals (42).
The senior started her final high school basketball season with a bang, scoring a then-career-high 31 in a season-opening loss to Elk Catholic and has finished in double figures in 18 straight games dating back to last season.
Garzel has of course been vital to Port’s current seven-game win streak.
With her leading the pack with other weapons such as Jade Evens, Evin Stauffer and Grace Archer, the Lady Gators will be difficult to slow down, especially with how much they’re clicking on both ends of the floor.
Hailey Hilfiger and Kaelee Bresslin, Cameron County
Cameron County has had some ups and downs throughout this season, but their dynamic duo of Hailey Hilfiger and Kaelee Bresslin has remained consistently dominant through most of the season.
The pair is averaging 14.1 and 12.2 points per game, respectively, and have finished in double figures together in 12 games this season.
With other key players on the team such as Mallory McKimm and Reggie Goodrow, don’t count out this Cameron County team, which has won four of its last five games, from making a run in the postseason.
Sarah Chambers, Coudersport
With the Lady Falcons sitting at a 15-1 record, Sarah Chambers has Coudersport positioned for another deep playoff run this season.
During its lone defeat by O-E, Chambers suffered a first half injury and missed the second half, but with Chambers in the lineup for the rematch last Wednesday, she went on to score seven points, bring down six rebounds and helped disrupt O-E’s offense to help Coudy avenge its previous defeat, 41-37.
A second team Big 30 all-star selection last season, Chambers surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this season and recently dropped 25 points in a 21-point win over Northern Potter.
Chambers leads a deep and talented quad that includes Rosalyn Page, Liz Frame and others that can wreak havoc come the postseason.
There are plenty of other players in the area to keep an eye on as well, such as Page, Frame, McKimm, O-E’s Kayley Heller and Bri Heller, St. Marys’ Kyla Johnson and among others.
(Patrick Kotnik, a sportswriter at the Bradford Era, can be reached at email@example.com.)