Scheels Athlete of the Week: Stronger Koenig Has West Branch Off to Fast Start

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Photo by Rob Howe

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

WEST BRANCH – As Sasha Koenig grew up honing her basketball skills by battling against her older sister there was always one significant disadvantage for the younger sibling – strength.

Former West Branch all-stater and current Bradley guard Tatum Koenig was known for her physical style of play as a prep. That same style that has helped the elder Koenig excel at the collegiate level gives her the edge when matched up with her younger sister.

At least it used to.

“She did (have a strength advantage),” Sasha Koenig said when asked about the strength advantage for her older sister. “She did before.”

Sasha Koenig spent the spring and summer in the weight room in an attempt to become a more physical player in the winter and the results are showing up on the court.

A stronger, more physical Koenig is averaging career-highs in points, rebounds and assists for seventh-ranked West Branch (7-2).
“I’m stronger and the weight room played a big role,” Koenig said. “You could see that with Tatum, you could see how strong of a player she was and people watch her play they noticed that so it was something I knew that I should work on.”

Has Sasha Koenig really caught her older sister in terms of strength and physicality?

Perhaps but family banter and bragging rights aside the younger Koenig has been noticeably more physical and assertive on both ends of the court this season.

“She is playing the game stronger,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “She is more in control. She has a good idea of when to attack and where her shots need to come from and she’s done a really good job of setting her teammates up too.”
Koenig averaged 11.2 points per game as a freshman in her old prep season playing with her older sister.

Last season Koenig averaged a team-high 16.6 points per game to go with 4.6 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

All of those numbers have taken a jump this season for Koenig.

The 5-foot-5 junior is averaging 17.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.6 steals per game.

“I feel like all around she is continuing to improve but the thing that stands out to me is she is playing the game with more strength and more toughness,” Tylee said. “She wants to get the ball in the paint and create things. She has put time in the weight room and that has a lot to do with it and that’s a credit to her she has put herself in a position to be able to do it.”
In nine games this season Koenig has showed her versatility.

She has scored 27 points in a game and been over 20 points three times.

Koenig has 10 steals in a game, has a game with nine assists and grabbed eight rebounds in another.

“I think it’s just confidence,” Koenig said. “I Worked on being able to shoot the ball better definitely and developing more of a mid-range shot, last year I was consistent with my shooting. I worked on that and just getting stronger and improving my all-around game.”

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