Benet guard Sadie Sterbenz didn’t score a point against St. Viator on Saturday.
She rarely does.
But that, as they say, is beside the point.
Sterbenz, a 5-foot-8 senior, affects the game in a variety of ways.
“She didn’t score today, but she does all the other things that don’t necessarily show up on the stat board,” Benet senior guard Lenee Beaumont said. “She brings a sort of energy, defensively especially, that just gets us going in certain situations.”
Defense has always been a calling card for Sterbenz, a star defender on Benet’s girls soccer team, which finished second in Class 2A in June. The Middle Tennessee State soccer commit brings a similar mentality to the court.
Sterbenz had seven rebounds, four assists and three steals in Benet’s 61-40 East Suburban Catholic Conference win against St. Viator in Lisle.
“I’m a defender in soccer, so I think it’s just natural instinct that no one is scoring on me,” she said. “That’s how I think when I play basketball too.”
That’s fine with the Redwings (8-2, 3-0), who have plenty of scorers. Those include the Indiana-bound Beaumont, who had 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists against the Lions (4-7, 1-1). Junior guards Maggie and Emilia Sularski and senior center Samantha Trimberger, who had 17 points and 13 rebounds, can also light it up.
That leaves Sterbenz to do less glamorous things, like playing tight defense, making steals and precision passes, and playing much bigger than her size on the boards.
“I’d like to help the team out more in scoring than I do,” she said. “But I’m not one of our top scorers, so if I leave that to Sam and Lenee, that’s a good look for me.”
It’s also a good look for the Redwings, who thrive off the energy brought by Sterbenz, a first-year starter.
“It’s very different from last year because I was a total bench energy person last year,” she said. “But I try to carry over my energy from the bench last year to being a player this year.”
Sterbenz has done a good job so far. She’s averaging 2.5 assists, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 steals. Her assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.2 is the highest on the team.
“She makes winning plays,” Benet coach Joe Kilbride said. “She’s impacting winning. Especially when you’ve got such good players, when you get a couple kids that figure out, ‘I don’t have to score to help us win,’ and they’re OK with that role, that’s important. And Sadie has bought in. That’s why she’s out there.”
Sterbenz doesn’t look to shoot often. She had just three attempts against the Lions.
But all three of Sterbenz’s offensive rebounds led to baskets by teammates, and she might have had 10 assists if the Redwings had made more of the open shots her passes created. She did that despite playing with a cold.
“Her energy was great,” Kilbride said. “She’s a very good athlete and a tough kid.”
That toughness can be seen on defense, where she’s as irritating as a swarm of bees at a picnic.
“You can hear it,” Beaumont said. “Especially when she gets physical with them, you hear the other team say some stuff like, ‘She won’t get her hands off me.’
“I love it when the other team gets a little angry. I think it’s hilarious.”
Sterbenz is dead serious about winning, regardless of the sport. That, too, endears her to her teammates.
“I love playing with Sadie,” Beaumont said. “Her main sport is soccer, but she plays basketball with such an intense and constant motor. She’s very competitive, which I love.”
Sterbenz loves her new role.
“I’m enjoying it,” she said. “All the girls are awesome, and I just hope we continue doing awesome.”
Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.