Sports

Sprouse is Keota career scoring leader

ADDISON SPROUSE
ADDISON SPROUSE
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Some things are better left to the unkown.

Although Addison Sprouse became the career scoring leader in Keota High School girls basketball history, it was not a goal of hers nor did she realize it when it happened.

“It’s pretty awesome to have that record, but I had no idea how many points I had starting out the season,” Sprouse said. “I just went out and played every game the best I could.”

It was good she didn’t know.

“It would have made me really nervous.”

It was a strategic move by Keota coach Jeff Sprouse, who is her father.

“The scoring record did not even come up until the week before our first playoff game. She had no idea where she was at, which was great for her and the team,” he said. “At that point, I thought it would be neat if she got it, but our first goal was to win our last game and then try to win our first playoff game in many years.”

In the playoff game, English Valley held Sprouse scoreless in the first half.

“At halftime I urged her to look harder for her shot,” he said, “I knew she would score or set up teammates to score to stretch our lead out, which is exactly what happened. She then broke the record in the fourth quarter as we pulled away at the free throw line.”

Sprouse finished with 15 points.

“I did not know it happened,” she said. “After the game was over they announced it over the speakers while we were shaking hands and I didn’t even hear it being announced. We went back into the locker room and everybody was telling me congratulations. But I was like, what are you talking about.’”

When they went home that night, Sprouse told her dad that she was a “nervous wreck. He said it was a good thing I didn’t know because it probably would’ve ended up pretty bad.”

She scored 16 points in the next playoff game,

Her most memorable game came in the last regular season game of her freshman year.

“We came out and played phenomenal and played like we had nothing to lose, which was true, obviously,” Sprouse said. “It was a cool moment.”

Keota had not won a game the entire season, but she came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 11 points and secure the only victory of the season. She finished the season with 62 points. She was the leading scorer for the Eagles at 7.6 points a game during her sophomore year to bring her career total to 229. Last season the team was 3-17 and she averaged 14 points a game, scoring 308 for a total of 537.

Putting the losses behind them was important before the start of her senior season.

“We just had to come out and get in to a mental state and not let anything affect our focus,“ she said.

This season the team finished 10-13 and won two postseason games before losing to Montezuma, which made it to the state semifinals. She averaged 12.7 points a game and scored 293 to finish with 830. Madison Sheetz held the old record at 803.

It was the second time she broke a record this season, breaking the single game mark for 3-pointers with seven. Madison Sieren held the old mark at six.

Sieren was an assistant coach with the team and made a mark on Sprouse when she was younger.

“She has been really influential, along with my dad. When I was in elementary and junior high, she was in high school playing basketball. She would ask dad to take her to the gym to work on her shot. Sometimes I would tag along and just watch her shoot. I thought she was phenomenal. I wanted to be just like her. If I had a goal, it was to be as good of a shooter as Madison was.”

While it wasn’t a goal to become the career scoring leader, setting goals with the help of her dad helped her achieve that lofty status.

“He helped me in any possible way you could possibly think, from all the practicing to yelling at me, praising me for doing good things, to going in and shooting on the weekends and in the spring and the summer. He would help me set goals to shoot a certain percent from the free throw line. He always helped me to motivate myself and get better.”

Being a good scorer doesn’t just happen, it takes a lot of moments and effort.

“She put in lots of time in the gym, many, many shots with me and by herself,” Coach Sprouse said. “Secondly, she understood the value of the free throw line and getting those bonus points. Her grandpa also challenged her with free throws as he always said it is a shot we should not miss since it is free. Her percentage really improved her last two years, which helped her score more.”

As a freshman and sophomore, her free throw percentage was just above 50 percent, but as a junior and senior it was just under 75 percent.

“Finally, her tenacity to keep getting back up each time she was knocked down, never wavering.”

Sprouse received a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

“Addison’s strength in her game could also cause her downfall at times,” the coach said. “She always strived to be perfect, expecting to make each shot. Some nights the ball won’t fall, but you have to keep on shooting. Over her last two years, she really tried to follow that goal to keep shooting, which led to her scoring more. Many times on the ‘shooting gun’ I would hear her say, I only shot 65% from 3. So she would go back to try and hit her goal of 70 percent.”

Coaching one’s own daughter can be really tough and he also coached Addison’s older sister, Raigan, who was Keota’s leading scorer in the 2015-16 season.

“The first thing I did before taking the job was sit Raigan and Addison down and really talk about the issues that would come up for them as well as myself. At that point, they were on board and off we went. She knew when things were not going well in practice, that she would be the first to hear about it. I felt team chemistry was better that way. There would be no animosity towards her or me. At times, home was a little rough. However, I would not trade the opportunity that we had for anything. Yes, more wins would have been great, but through all the challenges, I was able to spend time doing something we all really enjoy...the game of basketball.”

For Addison there was a certain dichotomy to the relationship.

“It depended on how we were getting along. Of course, we have a personal relationship and then we have a gym relationship. Often in the gym relationship we had clashes and we would fight sometimes. We would stay in after practice and shoot or work on different things and then we would start fighting about something and that would travel home and we would argue a little bit, but it was easy for us to get over it. It was definitely constructive arguing.”

Arguing that results in the most points scored by a girl in the school’s five-player history would be considered more than constructive.

“There have been a lot of great basketball player that have gone through Keota,” Addison Sprouse said. “To hold two records is kind of amazing. It is pretty cool.”

To accomplish the records, she did not do it alone.

“All of her teammates have their hands on the record too,” Coach Sprouse said. “There were many extra passes made, great screens set and many plays executed by everyone. I still point out Jill Schulte, setting a great back screen to get Addison her seventh 3-point goal to break the single game record. Jill voluntarily changed spots on the floor to make sure the screen was set correctly. As a coach, it is neat to see your one of your kids break a record. As a parent, I am so proud of her for breaking the record as I know how much time and dedication she gave.”