Windham's Drew Apthorpe

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

WINDHAM -Lighting it up from the outside has never been a problem for Windham's Drew Apthorpe. In the first two years of his high school basketball career, Apthorpe had developed a reputation around the Portage County League as the type of player who, if left unattended on the perimeter, could knock down jumper after jumper with lethal accuracy. But as opponents became more and more familiar with Apthorpe's offensive preference, the prevailing defensive wisdom was simple: get in his face and force him to give the ball up _ effectively taking him out of the Bombers' offense. That's where Windham coach Marty Hill came in. "Coach told me that probably the best thing for me was to drive to the hole more and try to get to the foul line," said the 6-foot-2 senior guard. "He's always tried to get me to take it to the basket more. He said that would open it up for our other players because the defense would have to help out on me. "Plus, it opens up my shot a little more." Thus, by adding a new element to his repertoire, Apthorpe has become a multi-dimensional threat on a team already balanced offensively. "We have so many kids who can score," said Hill, "and that takes the pressure off Drew so he doesn't have to score 20 points a game for us to win. "Usually when we have good teams at Windham we have a lot of balance, and this is a good group of kids that can score a lot of different ways." The Bombers posted two huge wins last week, beating Mogadore 71-66 last Tuesday and Southeast 81-72 in Palmyra on Friday, handing the Pirates their first league loss of the season. Windham then defeated Crestwood 62-59 on Tuesday, moving to 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the league, one game ahead of Field. Apthorpe played an integral role in all three victories, scoring 21 points against the Wildcats, 16 against Southeast in a rematch of last year's PCL title game, and 19 against Crestwood, including five 3-pointers. For the season, he is averaging 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game, leading the Bombers in both scoring and free-throw shooting (78 percent). "He's always had the capability to score," said Hill. "He's a really smooth shooter, and with the team we have this year he gets a lot of open shots. "And he's been taking it to the basket much stronger in our motion offense. He would do that at times last year, but this year he's been doing it consistently and that's what you expect from a senior who has started for three years. He has the quickness to go to the basket." Which, of course, forces defenses to lay off somewhat to prevent Apthorpe from beating them off the dribble and either scoring, passing off to an open teammate, or drawing a foul. Which, of course, gives Apthorpe more room to fire away from the outside. It's a vicious cycle which doesn't come as good news for opponents, who must worry about much more than just Apthorpe. "We've got a lot of people who are scoring right around 12 to 14 points a game," said Apthorpe, who has a 2.7 GPA. "We have John (Pemberton), Tony (Marstiller), Greg (McDivitt) and Ced (Turner), guys who can all have a big game on any night. It doesn't really matter to any of us who scores. "I think we're getting a lot better. Coach (Hill) always tells us how we have to come out and play well every game, that everybody is going to come after us because we're the defending (PCL) champs. There's been a lot more pressure on us this year. But everybody's relaxed and playing with a lot of enthusiasm and we're starting to play better." Following Apthorpe's lead, perhaps.

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