She's not the reason they won.
But Carter Schick, Gonzaga’s exuberant backup guard from Olympia High, doesn’t care. She had the best seat in the house – on the bench with her teammates in the Bulldogs’ 89-75 upset win against UCLA on Monday night in the women’s NCAA tournament. She was in her perfect world.
“That was so much fun,” Schick said in a phone interview, her voice hoarse from yelling. “That was right up there as one of the best moments in my life.”
Several times during the game the ESPN TV cameras caught Schick leaping off the bench, cheering another Bulldog basket. She didn’t play, but that didn’t stop her from cheering.
“I don’t think I have a distinct role on the team,” Schick said. “I guess I’ve fallen into that quote, unquote, ‘emotional leader’ role.”
That was evident against UCLA. If Gonzaga’s Kayla Standish or Courtney Vandersloot, who combined for 59 points, needed a lift, all they had to do was look to their bench and see Schick pumping her fist, jumping from her seat and yelling at the top of her lungs. She was electric.
“She’s their emotional leader,” the announcer said as Schick roared with approval.
It didn’t start out that way. Schick went to Gonzaga on a golf scholarship, but she quit the team midway through her freshman season.
“It wasn’t working out for me,” she said.
So, one day while Schick was shooting baskets in the gym, Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves came up to her and invited her to participate in the team’s offseason pickup games. That led to an invite to a turnout for the team, which led to a spot on the bench.
And that led to practicing with the team, flying with the team and, occasionally, playing in games. She played in six games as a sophomore, 11 as a junior and 17 this season. She’s averaging 1.0 points and 3.8 minutes per game and shooting 30 percent (4-for-13) this season.
“Carter’s a coach’s dream,” Graves says on Gonzaga’s website. “Although she doesn’t play as much as the others, she is every bit as important to our success.”
Schick has grown comfortable with her boisterous ways in practice and in games. She was the shy one at first.
“But when they got to know me and I got to know them, then my game nature came out,” said Schick, a second-team all-league guard her senior year at Olympia. “Now, I’m the loud one.”
Every game could now be her last. She’s soaking it all in.
“I’ve had so much fun from the start, but this might be the best year,” Schick said. “Everything is great. The crowd. The community. The team. It’s been so much fun.”
SAINTS SPLIT, MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE
Saint Martin’s recently did something no Great Northwest Athletic Conference team had done in a year – beat Western Oregon.
Bobby Twedt’s RBI single snapped a 3-3 tie in the sixth inning and the Saints went on to win 12-4 on Sunday, handing Western Oregon its first conference loss since March 14, 2010. Michael McIver, a 6-foot-10 lefty from Capital who ranks third in the GNAC with a 2.72 ERA, allowed nine hits and four runs in 72/3 innings to improve to 3-2.
In four games with Western Oregon, SMU went 2-2, including a 2-1 win Monday. The Saints (11-13, 9-3) are now in a first-place tie with the Wolves.
Nate O’Bryan and Kaleb Wilson combined for a six-hitter Monday. Blaine Evans belted a solo home run to give SMU a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Wilson, a senior and a North Thurston graduate, then pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth. He gave up one hit and struck out four in 22/3 innings to pick up his fifth save.
Olivia Midles qualified in the hammer for the Big Sky Conference championship in her first track meet as a freshman at Eastern Washington.
Midles, a Capital graduate, threw 163 feet, 11 inches for second place at the Dusty Lane Open in Spokane. Her mark Sunday was the eighth best in school history.
Gail Wood: 360-754-5443 firstname.lastname@example.org