The Shalom Christian girls basketball team is having a stellar season, with a 10-4 record and currently riding a six-game winning streak.
The Flames rely a lot on one of their younger players, sophomore Tori Yoder, to provide the things that make for a winning team. And she responds with a lot of points, rebounds and steals.
She scored 32 points combined in their last two games - victories over Calvary and New Life - and is Public Opinion's Female Athlete of the Week.
Against Calvary, Yoder scored 12 points and had seven steals. In the New Life game, she poured in 20 points and had five rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Yoder has scored in double figures in nine of the Flames' 14 games and averages 12.7 points per game. She and freshman guard Lydia Harris (13.1 ppg) are two of the reasons why Shalom is 7-0 in the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference.
Shalom coach Brad Eby said, "Tori has matured this season. She is more consistent. She's a tenacious rebounder, and she's so quick; we've put her out front on defense so she can get more steals. It cuts down on her rebounding, but she gets more points off the fast break."
Yoder plays the two and three positions (shooting guard, small forward) on offense. When the Flames play a 2-3 zone, she is one of the players out front; when they go man-to-man, she is usually assigned to guard the other team's best ballhandler.
Yoder said, "It's harder to get rebounds playing out front and I get frustrated. But my coach has helped me realize that steals are just as important as rebounds."
Yoder started last season as a freshman and made an immediate impact. She scored 20 points in three of her first five games and averaged 14.8 points per game to lead the team.
Eby said, "She's always been poised, even last year as a freshman. With the natural talent that she has, it's pretty cool what she's able to do."
Yoder also plays volleyball and soccer at Shalom, but she said she likes basketball the best.
In addition to being modest, Yoder also appreciates her teammates. She noted that senior Lydia Tissue, the team captain, was out sick for a couple of games and "we really missed her. It was very evident."
She and Eby also credit the freshmen on the team - Harris, Brooke Kuhns, Lexy Poe and Jessica Grove - for having a lot to do with the Flames' success.
"With the freshmen we had coming up," Yoder said, "we thought we could be good. It was a matter of having good team chemistry, and we have that."
Joe Kroepil can be reached at 262-4749 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori Yoder, Shalom Christian
Parent: Sharon Yoder
Interests: Hanging out with friends, dancing, shopping; she also plays soccer and volleyball for the Flames.
Surprising fact: She always likes to eat meat on game day.
Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers
Athlete most admired: Troy Polamalu
Statistics: Yoder is averaging 12.7 points per game Last week she scored 12 points and had 7 steals vs. Calvary She scored 20 points and had 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals vs. New Life.