Friday, January 19, 2001

Fairfield freshman on fire

Smith lead Indians, GMC in scoring

By Dave Schutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The jump from eighth grade basketball to high school is a huge one, but you wouldn't know it judging by the performance of Fairfield freshman Wanisha Smith.

        Smith, 15, is the leading scorer in the Greater Miami Conference with a 20.3 average. She also is one of the best free throw shooters (82.3 percent) and is in the top five in rebounding (7.8), assists (3.0) and steals (2.8).

        “Wanisha is our floor general and has earned the respect of the other players,” Fairfield coach Steve Termeer said. “She's blended well with the other girls and raised their confidence level which is pretty unusual for a freshman.”

        Smith, a 5-foot-10 guard, averaged more than 20 points a game last season.

        “My teammates have accepted me and there's been no problems,” Smith said. “I played AAU ball the past two years and most of the girls knew about me.”

        The impressive statistics emphasize Smith is a complete player, one who not only can score but also rebound and distribute the ball.

        Hamilton coach Dave Churchman was impressed with Smith's game and her ability to play any position.

        “She shut us down defensively and beat us offensively,” Churchman said.

        “She's a perfect combination of physical traits and mental understanding of the game. She scores better going to the basket and is a great free throw shooter. She has a shooter's eye but needs to work on shooting from the outside.”

        While playing point guard, Smith seldom goes inside but recently Termeer discovered another talent.

        “Wanisha emerged recently as a good offensive rebounder,” Termeer said. “She has a knack of being where the ball comes off and has scored a lot of points off put-backs.”

        Quickness is another asset of Smith's. She has a quick first step, which has helped her draw fouls and led to a GMC-high 102 free-throw attempts in 11 games.

        “I knew I could get it done and thought it was possible I could be one of the leading scorers,” Smith said. “I gained a lot of confidence playing AAU ball which has carried over to high school.”

        Smith, who grew up on the west side of Cincinnati, moved to Fairfield to live with her father, Wayne, three years ago.

        “I started playing when I was a 12-year-old on a recreation league team,” Smith said. “Dad played for (Hamilton) Garfield and started working with me after I moved in with him.”

        Under Termeer's guidance, the Indians compiled a 12-10 record last season and were 7-5 following a loss to Oak Hills Tuesday.

        Besides Smith, the other starters and key substitutes are sophomores Karen Carty and Ashley Davenport, juniors Katie Hanck, Lindsay Hauck and Rachel Buczek and senior Jennifer Taylor.

        “We're coming into the hardest part of the schedule,” Termeer said. “I told the girls this will let us know if we're for real as a team.”


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