School record for wins within reach for Hornets
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.’”
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.