Archive for Thursday, January 5, 2006

The Killer G’s

Goleman and Gonzalez combine to lead De Soto into ‘06

January 5, 2006

They're the same in that they both contribute mightily on the court. How they go about it, and what exactly they bring to the court -- that's what separates De Soto's two biggest early-season stars.

Juniors Jackie Goleman and Kira Gonzalez both played important-yet-secondary roles a season ago, and now the pair is in charge, and the two girls go about that responsibility in very different ways, De Soto coach Dwight Spencer said.

"They've very much been the leaders," Spencer said. "Kira's the vocal leader, and Jackie -- she more shows the others how to perform."

First a starter two seasons ago as a freshman, Gonzalez has earned the respect of her teammates, friends and coach with her immense experience playing basketball.

A regular in all the area basketball leagues growing up and AAU leagues more recently, Gonzalez has tried to improve her skills every way she can.

"She loves basketball," Goleman said. "I know the game pretty well, but she knows it better. She sees the court more than I do."

Gonzalez is second on the team in points with 10.4 per game and she's also second in rebounds, grabbing seven boards a contest. She's tied with sophomore Kayla Bader through five games with 12 assists, but has nearly twice as many steals as anyone else on the team with 19.

One story and one stat point to the manner in which Gonzalez leads her team.

After being elected the team's only captain, she approached the position differently than any had before her. Rather than lead her team on the court to warm up for every game, she chose to follow the team, taking up the last position that she was relegated to when she was just a freshman.

"She said the seniors should lead us on the court," Spencer said. "She's kind of a Magic Johnson type personality."

And the stat, it's 17. Seventeen of Gonzalez's 35 rebounds have come on the offensive end. Only Goleman has more, but just one more -- quite a feat considering Goleman has 12 more rebounds than Gonzalez.

Not that Goleman's been slacking. The team's leader in both points -- scoring 12.8 per game, and rebounds, grabbing 9.4 -- Goleman said she realized over the summer the 2005-2006 season was going to have to be different for her.

"I realized that I'm the tallest one on the team and I'm going to have to rebound for the team," Goleman said.

Goleman's done more than rebound. She has tallied four blocks and has led the Wildcats in points in every game but the first, where Gonzalez had 11. Goleman leads the team in shooting percentage and though she isn't one of the team's most reliable free throw shooters, she has gotten to the line and only Gonzalez had made more.

"I realized that people are going to point to (Kira and me) and say, 'We're going to have to beat them.'"

Thus far, that's been the story.

Gonzalez and Goleman combined for 21 points in the season-opening win over Wellsville and had 20 when the Cats beat Central Heights to claim third place in the Central Heights tournament.

Never were they more explosive than in De Soto's 44-35 win over Maranatha. Scoring just two points in the first quarter -- a Goleman bucket -- the pair combined for 32 points by game's end.

When the pair hasn't functioned at its best -- combining for at least 20 -- the Cats have struggled. Goleman scored 14 in a loss to Metro Academy, but Gonzalez added just five.

The pair combined for 17 points days later against Gardner Edgerton, and De Soto picked up its second loss of the season.

"Kira and I talked about it this summer and we realized that we're going to have to step it up a lot," Goleman said.

They seem like the perfect pair to step it up together. Gonzalez isn't short at 5-foot-6, but her game is much better suited to run at the guard position. She leads the team with five 3-pointers and often uses her high number of steals to score on break away lay ups or slashing moves to the basket.

Goleman, meanwhile, towers above her teammates at 5-11. Two inches taller than the nearest Wildcat, she's nearly a foot taller than the shortest.

"We used to play around and say that we were (Nick) Collison and (Kirk) Hinrich," Goleman said. "It was really cheesy but we would always dream of going to college and playing together."

There's a year and a half of De Soto basketball left before any college can become a factor and both can still improve Spencer said.

Spencer said he'd like to see Goleman play a little more aggressive and bump her stats up to average a double-double.

"I don't think Jackie even knows how good she could be," he said.

Gonzalez, on the other hand, could benefit from slowing the motor that makes her so good just a little bit.

"She has a very good jump shot," Spencer said. "But she always drives to the basket. She could shoot a little more instead of going into the lane."

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