Scheels Athlete of the Week: West Branch's Koenig Excelling After Taking Over for Older Sister at Point Guard

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

WEST BRANCH – For three years coaches, fans and players in the River Valley Conference have grown accustomed to watching a Koenig make plays as the West Branch point guard.

That hasn’t changed this season.

There is a still a Koenig starting at point guard and filling up the stat sheet for West Branch which are off to a 5-1 start.

The difference is for the first time in three seasons it is a different Koenig leading the way for the Bears.

Sophomore Sasha Koenig has taken over the point guard duties following the graduation of her older sister Tatum and is thriving in her new spot.

“It is a new role for her and I think she handles it well,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “We ask a lot of her as our point guard. She handles the ball for us, she is our scorer, she is an excellent passer, she rebounds the ball well for her size. She is doing all that and is a great leader for us too.”

Last season it was Tatum Koenig that starred at point guard for the Bears earning all-state honors average averaging 21.2 points per game.

This season it is Sasha Koenig that has taken on much of the responsibility of replacing the production lost with the graduation of her sister who now plays collegiately at Bradley.

“It is definitely different, a new environment for me but I’m loving it to be honest with you,” Koenig said. “Just to be able to call plays and set up an offense. I like it a lot and I think I’m doing a pretty good job with it so far.”

Koenig is doing more than pretty good six games into the season  

After averaging 11.2 points a year ago she leads West Branch in scoring at 20.5 points per game.

The 5-foot-5 Koenig also averages five rebounds, 4.3 assists and two steals per game.

“I definitely worked a lot on shooting and being able to handle pressure,” Koenig said. “Now that I’m point guard I have to be able to handle pressure that is a big one.”

Koenig had 31 points in a season-opening win over Durant, had 28 last week in a win over Solon and has 20 or more in three games this season.

Just as important as the scoring is everything else Koenig does.

She had a team-high 11 rebounds in a loss to defending state champion Cascade on Friday.

In the win over Solon Koenig had nine rebounds and seven assists.

“She has a had a night or to when she hasn’t shot the ball extremely well but she finds ways to impact the game,” Tylee said. “She gets other people involved which we need her to do and she creates things on defense.

Taking over the point guard spot from her sister after playing on the wing a year ago the younger Koenig knows there will be comparisons.

Sasha Koenig knows people will look at the stats and draw lines between her and her older sister.

That isn’t a concern for the younger Koenig.

“I’ve never really compared myself to her,” Koenig said. “I’m not worried about that. That doesn’t really matter to me I just want to win games.”

Tylee knows the comparisons will come too but says the sisters are much different players both on and off the court.

“My biggest thing with Sasha is she has played with her sister her whole life growing up and I just want her to be her own player, she is not the same player as her sister they are different,” Tylee said. “Sure people probably think they are the same but they aren’t they are different players and I like it that way and I want her to have her own stamp on our program.”

Sasha Koenig says she learned a lot from her older sister and is still learning from her.

The number one trait that she has taken from Tatum? Leadership.

“I learned a lot from her mostly on how to lead a team, I still learn from her,” Koenig said. “She was a leader on and off the court and I am always looking up to her.”