Heather Young loves basketball.
"I take the game to heart. I really get into it," said the Glenelg sophomore.
Sometimes, too much into it.
"She's very intense and hard on herself," said Glenelg coach Ciaran Lesikar. "We want her to stay clam and try to enjoy what she's doing out there."
"I'm taking things more positively," Young said. "I was getting down on myself too hard. Now, I'm picking myself up and taking things as they come. If I get a foul now, I just smile."
A transfer from Annapolis High, Young brought her intensity, energy and enthusiasm to a team that already was good. Her addition has made the No. 11-ranked Gladiators (9-0 overall, 5-0 Howard County) a solid contender for the county and postseason titles.
"She's all the difference in the world," said Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson, whose 12th-ranked team suffered its first loss of the season, 49-41, to Glenelg last Wednesday. "She's someone else [who] can bring the ball up court, and she can take the ball to the basket well. She's good."
The 5-foot-7 Young played second guard last season for Annapolis and also for the Maryland Waves, her Amateur Athletic Union team. When Lesikar first met Young last year, he told her that the Gladiators would need her to run the point position.
She worked hard over the summer and in the fall to improve.
"She's one of the hardest working people I've met," said senior center Kris Brust. "She's very dedicated to being the best player she can be."
Said Lesikar: "She's improved her shooting, she's improved her driving, but her biggest improvement is her ball-handling."
"I have improved," said Young, who turned 16 last week. "My left hand has gotten better, and my dribbling habits have gotten really good. I feel confident taking the ball down."
Putting Young at the point enabled senior guard Lauren Martin, the county's top three-point shooter, to do more things.
"When she brings the ball up, it takes a lot of pressure off me," Martin said. "We have total confidence in her to do it."
Last season, Glenelg's opponents would concentrate their defense around stopping Brust inside and Martin outside. The addition of Young, and the improved play of Stephanie Howell, is giving the Gladiators more weapons.
Young has a good outside shot.
"My shooting has improved. It's getting there," she said. And she is comfortable driving to the basket.
Although she shoots right-handed from the perimeter, once she nears the basket on a drive, she can shoot with either hand. In fact, she prefers shooting with her left hand close to the basket.
"Even though I shoot [from the outside] with my right, I'm very strong with my left," said Young, who is averaging 9.0 points, 3.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.6 steals a game.
Young is an aggressive player, and early in the season it cost her. She was called for a lot of reach-in fouls.
"She was getting herself in foul trouble, and it was really frustrating her," Lesikar said.
But Young said she's now "making good steals without reaching" because she is getting into better position by "moving my feet faster."
Young has made an impact on the team in many ways, from her intensity to her play-making.
"She gives us a little extra spark that will help us to the next level," Brust said.
"She always comes ready to play," Lesikar said. "She has a great attitude and has fit right in."
"I do feel comfortable with the position and that I'm fitting in," said Young, who hopes her sister, Jessica, an eighth-grader at Glenwood Middle, will join her on the varsity next season. "It's a good position for me."
Pub Date: 1/10/99