Niles point guard bears scars of hard work

Published 9:12 am Tuesday, January 21, 2014


You can see the battle scars on Elyse Zimmerman’s left arm.

Numerous bruises are easily visible.

Those patches of black and blue reflect the extra effort that the Niles High School girls basketball standout puts into every practice and game.

“Just working hard,” said Zimmerman. “I love contact and going after the ball.”

That aggressive mentality has helped the Vikings go from winless last year to an improbable 8-3 record this season. Niles’ latest win was a thrilling 47-46 win over rival Lakeshore on Tuesday. The Lancers took a 6-1 record into that game.

“It was a big win for us,” Zimmerman. “People didn’t expect us to win.”

Zimmerman scored 16 points, grabbed four rebounds and had three steals in the triumph.

After Lakeshore’s Carly Dubbert missed two free throws with :09.8 left, Zimmerman grabbed the rebound and raced the ball up the court. Eventually, the result was a rebound basket from Tatyanna Goodson as time expired.

“I trusted my team,” Zimmerman said about the frantic final seconds. “I knew we had a chance to score. I’m glad we didn’t give up. We did the things that we worked on in practice.”

Being only a sophomore, Zimmerman still has moments where she frustrates her coach, Pat Touhey. But Touhey is willing to live with his point guard’s inconsistent play because she has so many responsibilities.

“With Elyse, you can always pick moments in a game where she should be doing something better,” said Touhey. “But, what people lose focus on is that she’s asked to take care of the basketball for us and not allow teams to press us. She also has to be aggressive into the paint on offense and be a hard defender. She’s got the most significant responsibility on the floor. I, myself, have to take a step back when it comes to her play. How do I grade Elyse? Would I give her an A? No. But, it’s a strong B.”

Zimmerman is averaging 12 points a game this year after averaging only six points a game as a freshman.

“That’s a blessing because Elyse is a very unselfish player,” Touhey said. “She’d much rather see other people score and succeed.

“We told her this summer that she had to become much more selfish as a scorer. She’s taken that on and done a really nice job for us.”

Zimmerman sees the maturation in her game.

“I actually started to realize where the open gaps are and where to drive,” Zimmerman said.

Touhey is happy Zimmerman is just a sophomore.

“She’s such a key player for us,” the Vikings coach said. “Elyse plays at a high level. She’s going to be a very special player before she’s done here.”