Elzinga fits perfectly at Stevenson
Stevenson's Alex Elzinga (right) puts up a shot over Mundelein's Natalie Busscher Saturday. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:00AM
MUNDELEIN — Since Tom Dineen took over as Stevenson girls basketball coach in 2009, he’s preached the importance of players fitting into roles.
“Not everybody can score. Some are defenders, some are ball handlers, some are shooters,” Dineen said. “Everybody has to understand their role.”
One player who embodies this principle is senior Alex Elzinga.
A 6-foot post player, Elzinga was called up to the varsity by Dineen during her freshman year in 2009. She’s never left. The reason? Elzinga embraced expectations each season. As they elevated and expanded, so did she.
“My first year I didn’t play much. I was getting used to (Dineen’s) philosophy,” Elzinga said. “By junior year, I was starting. It progressed, which helped me grow as a player and person.”
Elzinga is still starting. But she is impactful in areas of the game that prove her full grasp of Dineen’s role concept.
Saturday against Mundelein, Stevenson was struggling, having lost an 11-point second-quarter lead. The Mustangs had gone ahead 37-36 with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter. Elzinga had been sitting with three fouls, but checked back into the game.
She promptly scored six straight points, grabbing two offensive rebounds. Early in the fourth quarter, she sprinted down the court to take a pass from freshman guard Chloe Ekenberg. Elzinga finished the play with a layup, and the Patriots were back in control at 46-39. The four-minute sequence was an example of an experienced player knowing what her team needed.
“I just wanted to go in there and get some rebounds. It kind of turned around after that,” Elzinga said. “Once we started doing more attack and kick, we started getting more points on the board.”
Successful teams like Stevenson are often the loudest on the floor. Elzinga’s voice can be heard above all other ambient noise in the gym. As the Patriots were extending their lead in the fourth quarter, it was Elzinga trailing freshman guard Jessica Burke as she pushed the ball into the Mustangs half court, barking instructions on where to direct the play, which finished with a Mundelein foul and two free throws by senior guard Kari Moffat.
“Alex is the kind of player where her energy keeps throughout the entire team and program,” said Moffat, who has played all four years on varsity with Elzinga. “People like her get others motivated to want to play.”
Dineen added: “I just love her enthusiasm. She has a lot of passion for the game. I hope it becomes contagious.”
Enthusiasm can’t be measured statistically, but rebounds and points can. Elzinga finished the Mundelein game — a 64-49 Stevenson victory — with 15 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Elzinga has plans to play in college, but there are more immediate goals — and roles — to fulfill before she finishes her Stevenson career.
“Everybody is stepping up these four years, gotten better in their roles,” Elzinga said. “We haven’t just (gotten) 20 wins in one season, we’ve gone past (20) three seasons. If we win regionals, it will be four. It means a lot that we could take a .500 team into a 20-win team.”