On a scale of 1 to 10, isn’t 10 the best? Nigel Tufnel, a guitarist in the mythical band Spinal Tap said what made their band the loudest was their amps “go to 11.”
It’s the same thing when a player is being interviewed after a game and they say the team gave 110%. It’s one of the biggest clichés in sports. How does one give 110% percent? Isn’t 100 the highest percentage of effort one can give?
I can’t tell you what maximum effort is. I can’t put a correct percentage on it. I can, however, tell you where you can see it.
Go to the River Falls High School gym this Friday at 7:15 p.m. and watch senior girls’ basketball point guard Kylie Strop. Like Nigel Tufnel, NO. 10 in your game program cranks it up to 11 in the effort amp. She does it every single time she steps on the court and it is so fun to watch.
As of press time, the Wildcat girls’ basketball team is riding a nine-game win streak after last week’s 63-59 double overtime win on the road against previously undefeated Eau Claire Memorial. Last week’s game was a microcosm of the season to date.
Strop is leading the Wildcats in scoring at 14.5 points per game, however, the 5-foot-7 point guard is also leading the team in rebounds and she had a huge offensive rebound in the waning seconds of regulation. Down by three, Strop snared the rebound and kicked it out to junior Rachel Randleman who tickled the twine and sent the game to overtime.
Strop barreled over an Old Abe going for a loose ball like a strong safety in football in the first overtime. She was called for her fifth foul. In previous years, it would have been slim odds the Wildcats pulled out the victory with Strop on the bench. This is definitely a different Wildcat basketball squad. Senior Abby Doerre took over the point, every player contributed, and the Wildcats sent it to a second overtime (again, with another three-pointer by Randleman). The win gave them sole possession of first place in the conference standings.
“I’m really proud how everybody has been working so hard in both practices and games,” said Strop, “It’s been a lot of fun this year.”
As defenses pack the paint to defend against the lighting quick Strop, she’s been kicking it outside and threes have been splashing down like big rain drops.
“That’s the plan,” said Strop while laughing like a confident gunslinger who knows she has the fastest draw in the west.
Senior shooting guard Taylor Weick is among the state leaders in 3-point shooting and Randleman, Doerre, and junior Jordan Szymanski are heating up from beyond the arc. It’s time to start calling them the Splash Sisters.
“That’s why we’re winning,” Strop said, “because everybody is contributing and it’s not just one or two people.”
Chippewa Falls comes to “The Litter Box” this Friday night. The Cardinal have won the last nine girls basketball conference titles and Strop said she has never beaten “Chip” going all the way back to fourth grade travel basketball.
“This Friday is going to be a dogfight the whole game,” Strop said.
If I’m going to a dogfight, I want No. 10 in the trenches with me every single time.
In 31 years in the Big Rivers Conference, Wildcat girls’ basketball has never won a conference title. I not only think they can do it, what’s different about this year is I expect them to. I also expect this team to break the single season win total of 16 set by the 1994-95 team (the Cats are currently 10-2 at press time).
A little known fact for you, Kim (Howard) Nesbitt was on that 1994-’95 team and this year her daughter, Riley, is on the team.
“I think River Falls is going to be very good after I’m gone,” Strop said. “We have a good hard-working group on JV and I know it’s going to continue.”
For now, Kylie “The Superfly,” as she is known on River Falls Sports YouTube broadcasts, is coming down the final stretch of her senior season and for a player who “goes to 11” every time she steps on the court, she sees no reason to change things now.
“I never want anyone to ever out-work me,” said the Division-I North Dakota State signee, “we’re going to have after-practice practice the rest of the year to work on free throws and other things. The first goal right now is to win the conference.”
My guess is if Kylie Strop tells the girls to stay after practice and work on shooting, they’re going to listen.
If you haven’t watched this team play yet, you’re missing out. On a scale of 1 to 10 in effort, Kylie Strop goes to 11. She’s in fifth gear the entire game. Grab your popcorn because there’s going to be a show on Friday night.