CENTRAL GIRLS BASKETBALL: Omlid no longer ‘freshy’ for the Panthers

INDEPENDENCE — It was only a year ago Krista Omlid went by “freshy” on Central’s girls basketball team.

Going from “freshy” to veteran this year is a surprising jump for the sophomore.

Entering her freshman year, Omlid’s vision extended as far as junior varsity.

Instead, she made varsity in basketball.

It came as a shock to Omlid, but not to the coaches who saw her potential.

“Really, athletically her skills have been there,” Central girls basketball coach Julie McDonald said. “It was just mentally being able to come up from the eighth-grade level to the varsity level. It’s a big jump for anybody.”

Making varsity is one thing. Learning to thrive at the varsity level is whole different matter, one that Omlid struggled with at first.

“I just thought, ‘don’t mess up, don’t mess up, don’t mess up, and don’t foul out,’” Omlid said. “I was like, I don’t know about this. I’m playing with seniors. With (former Central post) Sai (Tapasa), I had to guard her sometimes during practice. That scared me so much.”

Her trial by fire taught her invaluable lessons, though.

“I learned to pass the ball around a lot better,” Omlid said. “The experience was huge. It’s a big step going from Talmadge ball to playing 6A schools. It’s nerve-racking. Coach had me bring the ball down the court once. I wasn’t feeling it.”

Omlid’s mental hurdles are beginning to disappear.

She scored six points during the Panthers’ 37-33 win over Mountain View on Saturday and 10 points against Wilson on Dec. 30.

“She had to slow down her mind a little bit,” McDonald said. “This year, she’s improved playing with the speed of the game, as far as strategy goes and when she needs to penetrate and when she needs to shoot. Her athleticism is above where most sophomores are at. She’s definitely looked to as one of our leaders.”

As one of five returners, the role of leader is a new experience for Omlid.

“I was nervous about this season,” Omlid said. “I didn’t know if we were in shape or any of that, but the freshmen have put us on pace.”

McDonald has preached that at varsity, grade levels don’t matter much.

“Krista’s pretty internal, but the younger girls look to her as an example that it can be done,” McDonald said.

The Panthers entered the week with a 4-4 record, winning three of their last four games.

Offensively, senior Kylie Nash has carried the bulk of the load, but several other players, including Chavez, and Emma Girod are making key contributions, McDonald said.

“We have a lot of girls playing a lot of different positions,” McDonald said. “With our limited number of athletes that we have for varsity and JV, it’s important that they do know the different positions.”

Central opens league play Friday against South Albany.

“We’re doing a lot of film study and making the corrections that need to be made,” McDonald said. “We’re excited and ready for league.”

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