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Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – It doesn’t take a lot of scrolling through the West Branch stats to see how valuable Tatum Koenig is to her team.
A quick glance at the West Branch season box score on the website Quikstats tells a story of one of the state’s most productive players.
The senior guard leads West Branch and ranks 14th in the state in scoring at 21.7 points per game.
Koenig has team-highs in assists and steals, is the Bears’ second leading rebounder and just for good measure has blocked three shots.
The numbers for Koenig, as staggering as they are, don’t tell the full story of what the feisty 5-foot-7 ball of energy brings to the court.
Actually, the impressive stats are just the beginning chapters of the book on the all-time leading scorer at West Branch.
“Her stats are incredible, they have been for her whole career, but she does so much more for us than what you can see in any stats, she is as complete a player as you can have,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee explained. “She goes down and guards the best player on the other team and has to carry us on offense. She is our leader, she is our hardest worker and she’s a great teammate. Then she’s second on the team in rebounding, she leads the team is assists and steals I’m not sure how much more complete you can get.”
The stats tell plenty.
Koenig is the one of 14 players state-wide averaging better than 21 points per game this season and the only one of those 14 also averaging better than five assists per game.
But the Numbers don’t tell it all.
As good as Koenig is on offense her strength is on the defensive end of the court.
As tough as she is to defend what led Bradley coaches to recruit Koenig was her toughness as a player.
“The Bradley coaches when they recruited me they said they recruited me is for my toughness and energy and versatility,” Koenig said. “I take pride in all of those definitely.”
Quikstats shows primarily offensive statistics and Koenig ranks among the best in most categories.
One thing the website doesn’t list is minutes played. If it did, Koenig would toward the top of that list as well.
The senior rarely leaves the court.
Rarely as in two or three times per season not per game.
“She fouled out against Cascade but that’s about it, I think she came out of that game and maybe one other game” Tylee said. “I kind of take her for granted I go through four quarters and I leave her out there the whole time and I don’t even blink an eye at it and she doesn’t either. I’m grateful for it obviously.”
An intense competitor who spent a season on the West Branch football team Koenig doesn’t want to leave games even for a brief rest.
Rather than take plays off or rest on the court she lifts weights and conditions year-round regardless of her schedule as preparation for four-month season
“I don’t even think about that stuff in games because the offseason and practice is what gets us in shape,” Koenig said. “I play basketball all year long and I think that keeps me in shape.”
A lot has always been expected of Koenig on the court but she has never been asked to do more than she has this season.
In a year when she has logged more minutes and taken fewer breaks than any time in her career Koenig has been at her best.
She is shooting career-best percentage from the field, the 3-point line and the free throw line.
Koenig has added a potent pull-up jumper to her offensive arsenal that has always included the ability to beat defenders off the dribble.
“I tried really working on my mid-range game,” Koenig said. “A lot of teams either try to shut the 3 down or try to stop me from getting to the basket so I really worked on that mid-range game.”
Koenig has been better in every way this season than she was as a junior when she earned first-team all-state honors.
Her 107 assists this season are already a career-high and she is on pace to break her previous high for steals set last season.
“I want to improve my game but I want to find ways to get my teammates open,” Koenig said. “Mostly I want to find a way to win.”
The numbers don’t matter much to Koenig who said she rarely looks at stats, an assertion backed up by teammates and coaches.
All the senior cares about is winning.
“Occasionally I look at the stats but they usually aren’t up to date and I really don’t care,” Koenig said of her stats. “As long as we are getting a W at the end of the year I don’t really care about it.”
The stats Koenig chooses not to view are too impressive to ignore.
Koenig went over 1,000 points as a junior, became the program’s top scorer earlier this season and went over 1,500 career points with 25 points in her last game.
In her last 41 games Koenig has averaged 20.8 points and scored double figures 40 times.
“It’s through work, as hard as she plays out there that’s as hard as she goes every single day in practice and that’s where it starts,” Tylee said. “If you could get every single kid to do that you’d be in great shape. She just outworks everybody whether it’s practice or a game. Nobody works as hard as she does.”
Behind the huge season from Koenig West Branch is playing its best at the right time.
West Branch has won 10 of its last 11 and five straight entering a matchup with Class 2A seventh-ranked Regina on Tuesday.
“If we put everything together at the end of the game the scoreboard will be in our favor,” Koenig said. “I think we can be a dangerous team if we keep playing together.”