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Geyer building into more than just ball hawk

Del Oro junior has dominated backboards and looks to expand her offensive game
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Stephanie Geyer stood five inches shorter than Rocklin’s Jamie Curtis when the two faced each other Thursday night, but the height difference didn’t deter the Del Oro center from her mission. “When I go for a rebound, I go up thinking the ball is mine,” said Geyer, a junior. “I fight with (teammate) Bri (Ruiz) over them. I go up and that ball is not coming down with anybody else and when it does it is my responsibility to get it back. So I think of it as the ball is mine, I need to go up and get it.” Geyer, who is 6-foot-1, went on to tie her career high with 20 rebounds in the 29-28 Sierra Foothill League win as she outdueled the 6-foot-6 Curtis, who had just three rebounds and zero points, on both ends of the court. There isn’t much that is going to keep Geyer off the boards, not even a broken nose. In her second year on the varsity squad, she has proven to be the queen of the backboard and now looks to become more of a scoring threat to complete her game. Geyer was brought up to the varsity level last season as the Eagles made a run to the semifinal round of the California Interscholastic Federation Division II state basketball tournament. As a sophomore coming off the bench her role was primarily limited to rebounding and averaged 4.6 boards per game. This year, though, her role has increased as a starter. She leads the team in rebounds per game with 13.3, which is top 50 in the nation for juniors according to Maxpreps, and has a streak of 11 games with double-digit rebounds. Geyer has only played competitive basketball since eighth grade but she was already 6-feet tall by then and didn’t take long to find her calling. “When I started playing I wasn’t very skilled as far as shooting and dribbling or any of that fun stuff,” Geyer said. “But I was always pretty tall and pretty strong so I was always able to rebound and then I guess that became one of my stronger things that I could do.” The offensive side has been a work in progress. She is second on the team behind Ruiz (14.1 ppg) with 13.9 points a game and leads the team in field goal percentage (63 percent), but Del Oro coach Mike Takayama said about 60 percent of those have come on put-back opportunities rather than one-on-one. “She has been more of a physical post,” Takayama said. “If she starts to get a little finesse to that and her footwork’s getting much better, you couldn’t really set anything for her as far as a bar because she works so hard. She has the physical tools to move on to the next level. I don’t want to set a bar for her because of all the great improvements that she’s made just from last year.” Defenses have double teamed her throughout the season, which has kept the Eagles from using her on the low block as much as they would like. Takayama said he hopes that will change as the Eagles perimeter shooting percentage goes up. They have shot 40 percent from the field but only 25 percent from 3-point range. Geyer, who is also a starter on the volleyball team, has put in extra work during the offseason with Michelle Bento-Jackson, who is the former coach of Santa Clara University and now runs a player development center in Rocklin. The added work has helped her up her scoring from 5.1 points per game last season. Geyer was named one of the team’s captains this season, in part, because of her minutes on varsity last season – her and Ruiz were the only returners to see extended time last year – and her work ethic. Her determination was on display in a 52-34 loss to Oak Ridge at the Common Good Classic on Jan. 14. She went up for a rebound and found an opponent’s elbow in the nose instead. She broke her nose but played the rest of the game. She has worn a protective mask ever since. “My doctor said I could play as long as I wear the mask and that’s really all I heard, my parents heard the rest of it,” Geyer said.