H.S. Profile | Schad puts bite in Bulldogs' defense
PLAINVIEW — Sports section headlines and college athletic scholarships generally go to the high school basketball players who score the most points. It's the nature of the beast.
But sometimes a high school player can affect and even control a game without scoring more than a basket or two.
Plainview-Elgin-Millville girls basketball coach Jason Melbostad presents Caitlin Schad as Exhibit A.
The 5-foot-7 senior guard is the sixth-leading scorer on a high-scoring P-E-M team that is off to a 6-1 start and ranked No. 6 in Class AA entering next week's Rotary/US Bank Holiday Classic.
But Schad's scoring average (5.8 ppg) doesn't reflect her true value to her team or her coach.
"She's the best I've ever coached," states Melbostad, P-E-M's fifth-year head coach who has been with the program 17 years overall. "Caitlin is the most coachable, the best communicator with teammates, (she) always has a positive attitude and is an outstanding student.
"I can't say enough about her."
Team's defense is outstanding
Schad is a team leader as one of three senior captains, along with Karlie Gilbeck and Makenzie Shindelar, and she puts the bite in a Bulldogs defense that is holding opponents to just 44 ppg. The third-year varsity player and second-year starter earned her position with her ability to keep others from scoring.
"I'm not the best ball-handler or the best shooter, I admit it. But I love to play defense," she said. "I think it's a mindset and anyone can do it; you just have to work really, really hard."
Melbostad said that Schad's "on-the-ball defense" was so good that he "couldn't keep her off the floor" as a sophomore when she was brought up from the B team.
"She positions her body well, shuffles her feet, and she knows how to play aggressively without getting into foul trouble."
P-E-M has a sturdy 50-15 record over the last 2 1/2 seasons, including a 25-5 mark last season when the Bulldogs flirted with their first trip to state before falling 46-42 in the Section 1AA final to Kenyon-Wanamingo.
Melbostad always puts Schad on the opponent's best player, and he said her play was key to P-E-M's drive to the section final, in three close wins over Caledonia, La Crescent and Chatfield.
"Last year she took the other teams' best players out of those games for the most part, and that was essentially what allowed us to reach the section final," he said.
Only one loss so far
Schad said the Bulldogs were excited to come within a win of the state tournament last year, but added, "I wouldn't say we were satisfied; I don't think anyone should be satisfied with second place."
Schad is happy with P-E-M's good start in December, although she sees room for improvement. The Bulldogs are averaging a robust 68 ppg and their only defeat was a 2-point loss at No. 5-ranked Chatfield on Dec. 12.
"We've been playing really well but we're not up to our full potential quite yet," she said.
One variable that may make P-E-M tougher in the second half of the season is the progress of Rebekah Hart, a 6-foot-1 senior who is new to the program this season and is the sister of starting junior guard Sarah Hart.
"Rebekah has helped already and she's getting better every day," Schad said.
Schad, who will attend the University of Minnesota next year, said she is excited about where her final high school basketball season might lead. She proceeds with a smile, and with no particular hope that she will ever lead her team in scoring.
"I would say I'm very content with my role," she assured. "I don't think it really matters who's scoring 20 points or who's scoring two. I don't care if I score zero, as long as I played hard and did other things to help our team win."