By Tom Nader | Sports Editor
The single-greatest individual performance I have ever seen was delivered by Waterloo's Eric Schiele on Jan. 27, 2006.
Schiele scored 60 points against a Windham Bombers team that is one of the best Portage County has seen in the last 25 years and would eventually close out its season just one game short of playing for a state championship.
Schiele’s entire 2005-06 season was historic and a once-in-a-lifetime (or more) experience. It was exciting to witness and document it all.
On Jan. 27, though, I literally could not believe what I was watching.
I had already seen the 5-foot-10 shooting guard Schiele top 30, 40 and even 50 points before and thought I had seen his scoring ceiling. By January, the secret was out. Schiele was a scoring and shooting machine, and teams were obviously adjusting their defense to focus a minimum of two players on him. Knowing this, I didn’t think Schiele’s scoring would be able to sustain the havoc pace the first two months of the season produced.
I was wrong.
Sixty for Schiele was the headline that read on the front page of the Record-Courier’s sports section on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2006. I found myself in the dubious position of trying to capture the unbelievable into a collection of words that appropriately told the story of what nobody had words to describe. On tight deadline. One of the most exciting things I had ever seen turned into one of most pressured-filled I have felt even to this day.
The hype of Schiele and his high-clip scoring had permeated throughout Portage County. He had already played in 11 games and only once had been held under 30 points (27 at Ravenna on Jan. 17). Crowds were filling the bleachers by the midpoint of the JV games at this point, if not earlier, to be assured admission for what had literally become an extravaganza.
Those who made that game against Windham a priority to be at, were not disappointed and you could sense it right from the beginning.
Schiele buried seven 3-pointers in the first quarter alone — missing only two — and totaled 24 points total by the end of the opening stanza. In one stretch, where he hit back-to-back-to-back 3s on consecutive possessions, it was the first time people in the stands were fascinated at taking a peek at my running stat sheets. With each made basket, they would look at me as if to say, “Did you see that one?”
Each 3 that fell through the net that night, and there would be a record 14 of them, sent a roar into the air that probably surprised even the people making it that they were capable of such raucous.
After Schiele scored his 29th point in the second quarter, Windham, which had been playing solid, aggressive, man-to-man defense up to that point, switched to a 1-2-2 zone. The Bombers designated one person to completely face guard Schiele at all times, whether he had the ball or not. On inbounds passes, Schiele was completely face guarded by two Bombers. It made him work harder to get the ball, but he eventually would get to the spots he wanted; and he was in such phenomenal shape that year, he never seemed to tire from it all. His shooting did not keep up with his torrid first quarter, but nothing by no one could have kept that pace. And these were not spot up 3s, but instead highly contested, oftentimes off-the-dribble variety 3s.
Waterloo went on to an 89-74 victory.
Schiele’s quarter-by-quarter stat line:
First quarter: 24 points on seven 3-pointers, along with a layup and free on a conventional three-point play.
Second quarter: 10 points on two 3-pointers and two field goals.
Third quarter: 8 points on two 3-pointers and one field goal.
Fourth quarter: 18 points on three 3-pointers, one field and seven free throws.
Final stat line: 60 points on 19-of-34 field goals. He was 14-of-24 from 3-point range and 8-for-8 on free throws.
He also had eight assists, six steals and four rebounds. He turned the ball over five times. Combining his points and assists, Schiele accounted for 76 of his team’s 89 points that night.
Waterloo’s other scoring for the game included 18 points from Nick Royer, six from Joe Adelman, two from Adam Loudin, two from Kurt Hamilton and one from Bruce Conner.
Schiele’s 60 points against Windham said a lot. In the number itself, sure, but keep in mind that Schiele’s point total came against a team that very nearly won a state championship. It was done in a game that had first place on the line, late in the season — not done against a basement-dwelling team, collected during a rout against lesser talent.
Schiele went on to score a career-high 69 points against Mogadore three weeks later, which could have very easily by in the 70s, but he uncharacteristically for the 90-percent free-throw shooter, he missed upward of six from the charity stripe that night.
The 60 on Windham stands above that game, though, at least in my mind.
The coaches involved, two of the longest-tenured coaches in county history, who have legitimately seen it all so to speak, were left to trying to figure out how to describe what had transpired.
Here is what Windham head coach Marty Hill said after Schiele’s 60-point game:
“What can I say? He put on an incredible shooting performance. He is just a great player. I don’t care if you are the gym shooting all by yourself, to make that high of a percentage from the 3-point line is incredible. It is hard from a coaching standpoint to prepare your team for a game like this, where one game is capable of dominating. It is hard to emulate that in a practice format. I have been worried about this game since the last time we played them.”
Schiele had scored 44 points in that first meeting won by the Bombers.
Schiele’s coach John Herchek said:
“I am not sure I have ever seen a performance like that on any level. It was absolutely incredible; he was on fire. Just an absolutely fantastic performance.
“It got to a point where I couldn’t believe it myself. After I made my first few shots, my confidence just kept building. I just knew all I had to do was get a good look at the basket.”
For those wondering, the second-best single-game performance I ever saw was turned in by Crestwood football senior Alan Vanderink. He rushed for a school-record 272 yards in a 58-20 loss to Aurora on Sept. 2, 2005. He scored all three of the Red Devils’ touchdowns and did them in game-breaking fashion — on runs of 71, 75 and 81 yards — despite the team missing nine starters (7 two-way starters), including the starting quarterback, and practically all of its offensive line (serving a one-game suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules).
Who knows what Vanderink’s rushing total could have been in this game. He didn’t play a single down in the fourth quarter.