Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PIKETON — With 5-foot-10 center Regan Stonerock barreling towards her, Piketon’s Brianna Odel knew all too well what was about to happen next.
At the time, Odel was a 5-foot-5 freshman who received playing time on an as earned basis. She knew her role, she knew her team needed her to take a charge … and she knew it was going to hurt.
“Westfall was the number one team in the league at the time and it was a close game,” Odel recalled. “Regan was coming down the court for a layup and the lead and little freshman me knew I couldn’t let that happen. So I ran down there, set up, and took the hit. I remember laying there for a second, and as my teammates helped me up, I remember seeing coach [Brett Coreno] jumping up and down and the crowd went crazy.”
It’s not at all uncommon to see Coreno jumping up and down on Piketon’s bench. But it was the first meaningful instance where Odel made Coreno raise his eyebrows.
“That was the first time he wasn’t yelling at me that year,” Odel said, laughing. “That’s something I’ll never forget.”
Now, three years later, Odel is a senior … and she’s still making Coreno raise his eyebrows.
After the graduation of longtime point guard Avery Reuter, the Redstreaks needed a name to take her place in the offense. If you watched Reuter play, you know that’s not an easy task.
But Odel has never turned down a challenge.
“Avery Reuter may be little, but she had some big shoes to fill. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little hesitant when I first found out because it kind of caught me by surprise,” Odel said. “Coach basically told us that all the guards were going to bring the ball up the floor and during summer camps, it slowly became more and more of just me bringing it up.”
Eventually, Odel became used to handling point guard duties.
But it’s not like that’s the first time she’s been asked to be flexible about her role within the program. She’s played every position on the court … yes, even in the post at 5-foot-5 … and has accepted her role without hesitation on each occurence.
“I’ve always done what is asked of me, and I’ve always stuck to what I know best; defense,” she said. “So transitioning to a point guard and being in control of the team, so to speak, was definitely new for me and that was probably the hardest thing to adjust to. Being a point guard requires you to be able to pass the ball freely and unselfishly. If I could describe myself over the past four years into two words, it would probably be “overly-unselfish.” But being familiar with always looking to make that extra pass really helped me out a lot.”
While being a point guard took some getting used to, as Odel mentioned, playing air-tight defense is in her nature. That hasn’t changed throughout the course of this season, or throughout the court of her entire career for that matter.
Playing hard-nosed defense stole Odel’s heart from the beginning. Ever since then, she’s been in a love affair with the game as a whole.
“I’ve loved the game since the third grade. As cliche as it sounds, I feel like I didn’t really choose basketball, it chose me,” Odel said. “I feel comfortable when I step on the court. I love the pace of the game, I love the energy … it’s truly exhilarating. There’s no better feeling than getting a steal and scoring on the other end. It’s such a rush and I’ve fallen in love with that feeling, which may be why I like defense so much.”
Piketon currently sits at 12-9 overall and the Redstreaks have had their fair share of hard times this season. But with Odel leading the charge into a tournament run, you never know what might happen when it’s time to win or go home.
“We’ve definitely had our ups and downs this year. But in the first half of the season, we had already exceeded the expectations of most people as far as winning games,” Odel said. “I’m hoping to finish the rest of the season out solid and I’m excited for the tourney run.”
No matter what, whenever Piketon’s season does come to an end, the loss of Odel will certainly be felt. Very few players are as flexible and unselfish … two traits Odel has built the very foundation of her career on.
“If I could leave a legacy behind, it’d be that the quality of your game does not depend on how many shots you make or how many points you have when the final buzzer goes off,” Odel said. “It’s so much more than that. It’s about how many times you box out to get the rebound. It’s about how many times you dive after a loose ball. It’s about how many times you keep your composure rather than crumbling. I think some people are so worried about scoring x amount of points that they lose sight of all the other aspects.”
Brianna Odel has never lost sight of those aspects, which explains why she’s such a special player. Enjoy watching her play the game while you can. She’s certainly worth the ticket price.