School record for wins within reach for Hor­nets

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By John Kampf jkampf@news-her­ald.com @nh­preps on Twit­ter

Syd­ney Sny­der is pil­ing up big num­bers for the Kirtland bas­ket­ball team. But the goal she wants to reach most is for the whole team. The Hor­nets can achieve it with one more victory.

Scott Sny­der cut right to the chase when it came to the prospects of his young daugh­ter go­ing out for Kirtland’s sev­enth-grade girls bas­ket­ball team a hand­ful of years ago.

Syd­ney was com­ing off a fifth-grade year in which she broke her arm and wasn’t able to play a sin­gle minute of youth bas­ket­ball, so im­prove­ment in her sixth-grade year was im­per­a­tive.

Com­bine that with the fact the as­pir­ing hoop­ster didn’t pick up the sport un­til she was in fourth grade, and the proud-yet-re­al­is­tic fa­ther knew the odds might be stacked against his daugh­ter.

“He pretty much scared me into (prac­tic­ing),” Syd­ney Sny­der said. “He was like, ‘Hey, if you want to make the team, you better start work­ing to get better.”

Dad’s mes­sage got through.

When Kirtland takes the floor in a Di­vi­sion III sec­tional fi­nal on Feb. 24 against the win­ner of Beach­wood and Brook­lyn, it will do so led by Syd­ney Sny­der, who isn’t only the best player on her team, but in also one of the best Di­vi­sion III play­ers in North­east Ohio — and the sec­ond-lead­ing scorer in girls bas­ket­ball his­tory at Kirtland.

“There’s no way I would have ever imag­ined ac­com­plish­ing what I’ve been able to ac­com­plish,” Sny­der said after a re­cent prac­tice. “When I was younger, I was not good. I was re­ally wor­ried I would (get cut from the sev­enth grade team). Layups were a chal­lenge for me. I was pretty bad.”

Now, Sny­der leads her team in most — if not all— sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gories.

She is first in scor­ing (20.9 points per game), first in 3-point­ers made (34), sec­ond in re­bound­ing (7.8), first in as­sists (3.7) and first in steals (4.2).

All for an un­de­feated team that will go for a school-record 23rd win in a sec­tional cham­pi­onship game.

“The sta­tis­tics are nice,” she said. “But that 23rd win is the one I want so bad, just to lock in that school record. We want younger kids here at Kirtland to look up to have that as a goal, to be the team that breaks the record we set.”

For her ca­reer, Sny­der has scored 1,371 points, sec­ond only in school his­tory to Kim Sven­son (Class of 1985).

“That’s the part of my game that came around first — my shoot­ing,” Sny­der said. “My dad and I would go out ev­ery day in the sum­mer and shoot. He’s the rea­son I am where I am

right now in my ca­reer.”

Sny­der also takes great pride in her pass­ing and re­bound­ing. She said get­ting her team in­volved is im­por­tant to her.

“Giv­ing the ball up for a team­mate to get a layup, that’s all that mat­ters,” she said.

She chuck­les a her propen­sity to get re­bounds. She points out that she is only 5-foot-6, and has no other ex­pla­na­tion for av­er­ag­ing 5.9 re­bounds over her var­sity ca­reer than to at­tribute it to heart.

“I know I’m not the big­gest or the strong­est,” she said, “but I’m go­ing to work hard to get in there and get those re­bounds.”

It’s that tenac­ity that sold Coach Bob Bell on Sny­der when she was a mere fresh­man. Her next start will be her 93rd con­sec­u­tive start for Bell’s pro­gram.

“I didn’t know she’d reach the level she’s at now — you never know those things — but I knew all the in­gre­di­ents were there,” Bell said. “Syd­ney’s the most com­plete bas­ket­ball player I’ve coached in my en­tire ca­reer.”

Which says some­thing con­sid­er­ing Bell has coached for 47 years and has coached both boys and girls teams.

“She’s just a leader,” Bell said. “She sets a good ex­am­ple in our pro­gram be­cause she works so hard. She’s never dis­parag­ing to younger play­ers and is al­ways sup­port­ive. She goes about busi­ness ev­ery day as an in­cred­i­ble team leader and cap­tain.”

After grad­u­at­ing, Sny­der will head to Bald­win Wal­lace to play bas­ket­ball for the Yel­low Jack­ets. But be­fore that, she has other goals for her and her Kirtland team­mates.

Among those goals is a longer tour­na­ment run than they made last year when the Hor­nets lost to Lutheran West in a dis­trict semi­fi­nal.

“If we can get a step fur­ther, that would be amaz­ing,” she said of a berth in the dis­trict fi­nal — a dis­trict that is with­out Gil­mour this year be­cause the Lancers moved up to Di­vi­sion II. “To get even fur­ther than that — to re­gion­als — would be even better. That’s what we’re work­ing on ev­ery day in prac­tice.

“It’s all about the team goals. I want us to ac­com­plish these things as a team.”

Sny­der mar­veled at how fast time has flown. To her, it seems like just yes­ter­day she was in the back­yard strug­gling to make the sim­plest of shots — wor­ry­ing about whether she’d be good enough to make the sev­enth-grade girls bas­ket­ball team.

Now she’s the sec­ondlead­ing scorer in school his­tory, a model of con­sis­tency as a cap­tain, and a leader of a team that is one win away from a school record in vic­to­ries for a sea­son.

“It’s crazy how fast it’s gone by,” she said. “I never be­lieved when peo­ple told me how fast it would go, but I know now.

“I just want to be re­mem­bered as a hard worker, some­one who earned what she got. Noth­ing was handed to me. I want peo­ple to say, ‘I want to work hard for ev­ery­thing I get — just like she did.’”

JOHN KAMPF — THE NEWS-HER­ALD

Syd­ney Sny­der, a se­nior at Kirtland, is the sec­ond-lead­ing scorer in school his­tory. She has helped lead the Hor­nets to a 22-0 record head­ing into the Di­vi­sion III tour­na­ment.

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