Scheels Athlete of the Week: West Branch Freshman Koenig Gets Off to Strong Start

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By Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

WEST BRANCH – Considering the high expectations for Sasha Koenig from inside the West Branch basketball program the goal for the freshman guard in her first varsity game seemed fairly simple.

“My parents and my coaches both told me before that first game don’t foul out,” Koenig said. “They told me just to try to slow down a little bit.”

Two games into her career Koenig is already demonstrating why her debut was so highly anticipated.

Koenig poured in 21 points in a win over Durant in her varsity debut last week and followed it up with a 15-point performance against Wilton on Tuesday.

 “She is young and we ask her to do a lot, she is running a varsity basketball team but I am nothing but happy with Sasha,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “She has made some mistakes but that’s the way it works, freshman makes mistakes but I couldn’t be more pleased with the way she has played.”

The younger sister of West Branch all-stater and Bradley recruit Tatum Koenig, most believed Sasha was poised to make an immediate impact as a freshman.

Koenig knew exactly how big her impact would be could depend on her ability to adjust to the speed and intensity of the varsity game.

So far, so good.  

“It’s different, a lot of different things are thrown at you,” Koenig said. “In junior high I was just the point guard and now I have to shoot the ball more, make good decisions passing, know when to pass and who to pass to, so the game situations are a lot different.”

The 5-foot-3 Koenig has already proven to be a playmaker.

After two varsity games the freshman point guard is averaging 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 5 steals to go with her 18 points per game.

She had six rebounds in the season-opener against Durant and six steals in a 76-74 loss to Wilton on Tuesday.

A week into her career Koenig already knows that her defense needs to improve at the varsity level.

“I think offensively I did fine but defensively I need to improve on that,” Koenig said. “Just rotating and helping and not getting beat by people going to the basket all the time.”

Koenig credits her older sister for helping her get off to a strong start.

A four-year varsity starter and 1,000-point scorer, Tatum Koenig knows the offense and defense inside out.

That knowledge has been a benefit to Sasha Koenig as she tries to pick things up quickly.

“She helps me out a lot,” Sasha Koenig said. “She is always talking on the court and letting everyone know what to do so she has been a big help to me already.”

Sasha has been a help to her sister as well.

Sasha Koenig’s ability to play the point guard spot allows Tatum Koenig to move away from the ball.

Through two games the elder Koenig is averaging a  career high 24 points on 46 percent shooting.

“We basically have two point guards out there with those two,” Tylee said. “If one starts to get a little tired handing the ball you have a second one out there. It’s nice to have both of them and Sasha will continue to improve and is going to be a really good player for us the next few years.”