Discussing his team a few weeks before the season began, Upper Arlington High School girls basketball coach Chris Savage noted that senior guard Annika Wachtman had a chance to be the team's best long-range shooter.
"When she's good, she's really good," Savage said. "She can hit six or seven (3-pointers) in one game. We have to figure out when she's hot and find a way to keep it that way."
Indeed, Wachtman has translated a renewed emphasis on offense into being a consistent threat. Senior forward Andi Norman and sophomore center Kortney Eisenman led the Golden Bears in scoring in each of the team's first three games, with Wachtman averaging nine points during that span and totaling seven 3-pointers.
But teammate Kyle Croxton pointed to a part of Wachtman's game she thinks is underrated.
"She's a solid shooter, but a lot of people don't realize how good of a defender she is," Croxton said. "She's really quick, which obviously helps a lot. Her awareness of where everything is is a key to how good she is on defense. She knows where her player is and where the ball is at all times."
UA was 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central Division after defeating Central Crossing 41-27 on Dec. 16.
Norman, who has committed to Dartmouth College, was averaging 12.8 points through four games, just ahead of Eisenman (12.3). That's fine with Wachtman.
"Defense is my favorite. Your shot is something that is touchy. Defense is athletic ability," she said. "In your head, it's 'I have to stay on this girl.' It's lateral speed. It's speed up and down the floor. It's speed all over the place.
"Now my offense, that has actually come to my surprise."
Wachtman came up through UA's system as a point guard, but the presence of now-junior Taylor McGlade pushed Wachtman to an off-guard position during the latter's sophomore season. It also pushed her to work harder on her offense, with her defensive skills steadily improving as well.
"Sophomore year, there were a few games when I hit six shots in a game and it's like 'Whoa, I think this will be my role from now on,'" Wachtman said, smiling.
"I know that somebody has to score. So whether I'm on my 3 game or not, I either need to be driving to the basket getting fouled and making points at the line or looking into Kortney at the post or finding the open shooter."
Wachtman said she hopes to play for a Division III college, possibly Capital University.
For now, UA has a chance to stockpile OCC-Central wins before participating in the KSA Holiday Tournament being held Dec. 26-30 in Orlando, Fla. The Bears have back-to-back home league games against Hilliard Davidson on Friday, Dec. 20, and Thomas Worthington on Saturday, Dec. 21.
The game against Thomas had been scheduled for Dec. 6 but was postponed because of bad weather.
"We're just starting to figure out our rhythm," Wachtman said.
"We had such a good rhythm last year in the (Division I district) tournament, and carrying that over has helped because we have all five starters back. We can tell we're better in certain situations this year than we were last year."