Matt Miller had nothing to worry about Wednesday.
Although a handful of Miller’s players have practiced on a limited basis because of a deep run in girls soccer, the host Yellowjackets opened the girls basketball season with a 45-32 non-conference victory over Class A Troy.
“It was a great problem to have,” third-year OHS coach Miller said of soccer players Mariah Ruff, Dani Nicosia, Minnie Webster and Meg Burns missing time during the first two weeks of basketball practice. The quartet helped the Jackets to a runner-up finish in the Class B state tournament Sunday. “I was definitely worried there’d be some court rust.”
That definitely wasn’t the case in regard to junior guard Ruff, who finished with game-highs of 22 points and 15 rebounds Wednesday. In addition to her varsity-best rebounding performance, Ruff had five steals and hit three three-point field goals.
“She’s not a real big kid, but she really has been dedicated to the weight room for the past year-and-a-half,” Miller said of the 5-foot-8 Ruff, who grabbed 13 defensive rebounds. “She’s gotten a lot stronger. She was just ripping the ball away from people. If there’s a 50-50 ball where she’s got her hands on it and somebody else does, too, she’s going to end up with it 90 percent of the time.”
Natalie Vanderlaan-Meyering, a 6-foot-2 senior center, contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks for the Yellowjackets, who are coming off a 17-5 season that included their fifth straight Section Four championship and ended with a 47-39 state-quarterfinal loss to South Jefferson.
“She was knocking on the door of a triple-double,” Miller said of Vanderlaan-Meyering. “She hit the weights a little bit, too, and she blocks a ton of shots, so it wouldn’t surprise me if she does get a triple-double at some point this season.”