Molly Werder standing tall so far for South Kitsap

At 6-foot-2, Molly Werder gives the Wolves a legitimate presence in the post. - Jesse Beals/Staff Photo
At 6-foot-2, Molly Werder gives the Wolves a legitimate presence in the post.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/Staff Photo

In college basketball, schemes and systems are spoken like foreign languages.

Everybody has a different one.

But one concept that never seems to change among coaches is the importance of a quality post player.

There’s no deviation on the importance of someone who can alter or block shots, collect rebounds like iTunes and being strong enough offensively that the defense wouldn’t dare to leave her alone without a double-team.

South Kitsap junior Molly Werder is working to reach that point.

The 6-foot-2 post is averaging 11.5 points per game as the Wolves started 5-1.

It’s their best start since the 2004-05 team won six of its first seven games.

Werder attributes most of the improvement to confidence. She said there was an adjustment period last year entering one of the largest high schools in the state.

Without a player averaging five points a game, South advanced to districts but finished 10-13 overall.

First-year South coach Mark Lutzenhiser said Werder worked hard during the summer to improve her offensive skills, and that has continued through the season.

“She’s having a great year so far, and I just see her getting better and better,” he said. “She’s very receptive to instruction and always asks what to work on.”

Werder began learning about the game shortly after she could pick up a basketball.

Her father, Jeff, played through high school in Oregon. She has played competitively since fourth grade.

Werder also plays volleyball and runs the 1,600-meter relay and 100 hurdles for the Wolves’ track team.

“I figure that it’s better to do sports than go home and watch TV,” she said. “It’s a great atmosphere and you get to meet new people.”

Including those in the low post. After Werder scored eight points in the first half, Gig Harbor often double-teamed her during the Tides’ 42-35 win Tuesday at South.

Werder scored just two points in the second half.

She said the adjustment to the double-team was difficult at times, but views it as a sign of respect.

“All that will do is make you tougher,” Werder said.

It’s just one adjustment in the process of improvement. Werder said she “idolized” Kaileigh Westermann — a 6-foot post who now plays at Willamette University in Salem, Ore. — last season and also hopes to play basketball at a small college.

Werder, the daughter of two engineers, likely will be appealing from an academic standpoint. In addition to playing sports, she maintains a 3.8 grade-point average and hopes to pursue a career in engineering or a medical science related field.

Lutzenhiser, who believes Werder has the ability to play collegiately, has her as a student in his chemistry class.

“She’s very sharp,” he said. “From my experience, those who do well in the classroom are good learners on the basketball court.”

Werder credited Westermann for her positive attitude and willingness to help develop her skills last season, and Lutzenhiser sees those attributes in his pupil this year.

“She’s kind of a quiet leader,” he said. “The kids know they can rely on her during the game.”

That’s a perspective Werder tries to maintain. In addition to Westermann, starting guards Caitlin Daniels and Jessica Jordan also graduated in 2008.

“Now is the time to step it up,” she said. “We’re going to go to state this year. That’s the goal.”

Those comments, and Werder’s feelings for the game, are of a language no one has to decipher.

“It’s a sport that I love,” she said. “There’s nowhere else I would rather be.”

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