UNION MILLS — Sophomore captains are a rare find.
At a time when players may come to high school with a physical skill set that's beyond their age, the mental maturity may lag behind.
In Amber Wolf, South Central was fortunate to get both.
"When a kid's leading every statistical category, already on the court talking to everybody, talking to the officials, that's a captain," Satellites coach Wes Bucher said. "She makes us work. She makes us go. She's fun. She's the big sister, the role model."
A year later, the (listed) 6-foot guard-forward continues to pace the Satellites on the stat sheet, while providing a strong voice of experience for younger players.
"It was kind of hard at first. There were so many people who didn't like a little freshman starting over them," said Wolf, who broke into the first five early on in ninth grade. "Sophomore year, I had the captain title. Junior year, it's been the best by far, the best team chemistry. I love this team. We all click together. There's no drama whatsoever. We want to win and we want to do it together. If there's a freshman or senior out there, we don't care. We're all teammates. We're all the same age when we step on the court."
Freshman guard Abbie Tomblin, whose game mirrors Wolf's, has an elder sibling relationship with her teammate.
"Coming into the year, I was really nervous about what it would bring and she's eased that nervousness," Tomblin said. "We're a lot alike each other when we play, so it's a lot of fun playing with her."
Wolf sprouted at a young age and even dealt with scoliosis as a result of a rapid growth spurt. She has to be cognizant of her posture in order to prevent any recurrence. While always having been taller, she was never pigeon holed as a post player. She learned how to dribble at youth ball handling/point guard camps, where she met Tomblin, and it was an aspect of the game reinforced with the NWI Thunder, for whom both girls play. The end result is a player with post size and guards skills who can play anywhere.
"Two years ago, I could keep up with Amber. Now she's two steps ahead of me," Bucher said. "What makes Amber different is her footwork. She's very light on her feet. She's able to get bumped and handle it better than most. That's a big testament to how much basketball she plays. A lot of players are going to travel in that situation. She sees things in a game two plays before they happen. In a two-post set, if she has a smaller girl on her, we'll put her in the post. If she has a bigger girl on her, we'll put her on the perimeter. She plays a lot of off guard stuff. It's wherever the advantage is for her. It also makes it a little easier for Abbie."
Wolf displayed the whole package in the sectional championship win over Oregon-Davis, posting 31 points and 11 rebounds to go with several assists.
"All the hard work she puts in, to have it all come to fruition in the sectional championship game, it was great to see," Bucher said.
Off the court, Wolf is just as productive. She's a strong student with an eye on a career in the dental field. A few years back, she and her brother Garrett, an S.C. graduate, initiated the Pantry Points program at the school where students can bring in food items to earn extra credit. Wolf then transports the donated goods to the Hanna Food Pantry.
Saturday's Class A Caston Regional will be a reunion of sorts for Wolf, who played back in elementary school for a year with top-ranked Marquette's Nolan twins, Emma and Sophia, on the Region Rebels.
"Actually, we're all close friends," Wolf said. "Obviously, Marquette's a great team, but we've grown so much, we're not super worried. We can match them and if we're playing good, we can with this game."
Class A Caston Regional
South Central (19-6) vs. Marquette Catholic (22-3), 9:30 a.m.
Fremont (16-8) vs. Pioneer (16-6), approx 11:15 a.m.
Championship, 7 p.m.