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Westchester, 01/03/13 Loyola's Sarah Elston makes the quick pass during their game against St. Joseph in Westchester January 3, 2013. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Loyola’s Sarah Elston is only a sophomore, but she already poses a matchup nightmare for opponents.
Listed at 6-foot-1, Elston is the tallest player on the Ramblers basketball squad and occupies the post position. But she has also been a guard on her AAU team, the Illinois Lady Lightning.
That range of skills makes Elston “pretty tough to guard,” senior guard Anna Schueler said. “She’s so diverse.”
Loyola coach Jeremy Schoenecker’s offensive scheme allows Elston, a guard/forward on the team roster, to get outside, pulling the post defender away from the basket. If the defense sags too far from her, Elston can sink a shot from 3-point range.
She also has the speed to dash around a slower opponent and drive to the basket – and the height to defy a smaller, quicker player by posting up.
Thanks to her height and wingspan, Elston has an impact on the defensive end as well. In addition to averaging just over nine points a game, she pulls down about eight rebounds and records about three blocks.
Schoenecker said that while Elston needs to work on her strength, she is someone who can alter shots.
“She’s got those long arms, so it’s comforting to know that she’s back there,” Schueler added.
Elston’s performance in December’s Suburban Holiday Showcase, which Loyola hosted and also won, confirmed her on-court prowess: She was named to the all-tournament team alongside fellow Ramblers Schueler and junior guard Maggie Nick.
Elston already has one season of varsity experience under her belt. Last year she was one of the first players off the bench for the Ramblers, who reached the state semifinals.
“We were really, really happy with where she was at as a freshman,” Schoenecker said of the decision to bring Elston up to varsity.
The sophomore is focusing on basketball after playing other sports like softball and soccer in junior high. She now hits the court year-round with her AAU and Loyola teams, as well as with a trainer with whom she works on her shot.
“Basketball is the most fun for me,” Elston said. “It doesn’t matter if I’m playing post or guard. It’s the sport that has the best balance of speed, quickness and skill and it’s a team game.”
While she has her sights set on playing collegiately, for now she is looking to lead Loyola into state contention again this year and in years to come.
“She’s a building block for our program,” Schoenecker said. “We have a great foundation with her.”