To judge Amanda Merz because of her size — or lack thereof — would be a serious mistake.
She may stand just 5-feet, 4-inches tall, but Merz’s neverending motor and fearless attitude make her presence on the basketball court seem much bigger than her size would indicate.
Merz, only a sophomore, inherited the starting point guard spot for the highly-ranked Grand Haven varsity girls basketball team this winter.
Nobody expected her to step in and pick up where two-time all-state point guard Shar’Rae Davis left off. Nobody could do that.
But Merz has put her own stamp on the position, one of a gritty defender and a fearless competitor who has helped the Buccaneers extend their winning streak to 37 heading into tonight’s showdown with East Kentwood.
Coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer expected that Merz would bring solid ball handling and tenacious defense to the court, but she didn’t expect Merz to rank among the team leaders in rebounds.
At Grandville two weeks ago, she scored a team-high 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, helping the Bucs hold off a fierce charge from the Bulldogs to remain unbeaten.
“It’s amazing, she’s the smallest girl out there and she’s in there battling for rebounds,” Kowalczyk-Fulmer said.
“I just have a mindset that I’ve got to get this rebound,” Merz added with a smile. “I go box out my girl, get into position and jump as high as I can.”
Nobody will mistake Merz for Buccaneers’ center Abby Cole. Afterall, the sophomore guard is 13 inches shorter than the Bucs’ senior center, who towers above the competition at 6-feet, 5 inches tall. Still, Merz averages nearly 4 rebounds per game to go along with her team-leading 2.9 assists per contest. She’s also fourth on the team in scoring at 6.1 points per game.
Merz isn’t afraid to look for her shot, regardless of where on the floor she catches it. Against West Ottawa last Tuesday, the Panthers were double-teaming Cole in the post, so Cole would kick the ball out to Merz, who twice scored baskets while playing among the trees inside.
“I just cut to the middle, they Abby happened to get it to me, and I just shot it,” she said. “We just play 100 percent all the time.”
Merz and the Buccaneers may be undefeated on the season and ranked No. 2 in the state in the latest Class A poll, but the team isn’t satisfied yet.
“We’re working hard, but we need to get stronger as a team. We’re now where we need to be if we want to move on as a team in the tournament,” Merz said. “We need to take our time on our passes, don’t force things, swing it around. We need to slow down. We’re playing too fast at times.”