SLOAN, Iowa | Carah Drees admits that sometimes, she’s clumsy.
Certainly, the Westwood senior doesn’t show it on the basketball court. Especially while blocking a shot.
Drees’ technique led Westwood Coach Vince Johnson to pay her a compliment as one of the best freshmen he had seen in his 20 years as a coach.
Drees simply utilized the tactics which she was taught, properly positioned herself and executed.
“Blocked shots are so much fun,” said the Sioux City Journal’s Siouxland Athlete of the Week, third in the state with 54 prior to Tuesday night’s home Western Valley Conference girls basketball game against West Monona.
“It’s one of my favorite things. You keep your eye on the ball, watch the ball and control your body so you don’t run into them at full speed. It’s a good question (control). I’m a clumsy person. It’s another natural thing, to be honest. It’s been a part of my game.”
The 6-foot power forward is Westwood’s career leader with 450 blocked shots in four seasons, which included a combined 320 during her sophomore and junior years. Midway through her sophomore season, she had passed the previous school record of 204 established by 2001 graduate Rachel MacClure.
“She rarely gets in foul trouble,” said Westwood Coach Vince Johnson, discussing an athlete who averages 17.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocked shots for the 10-2 Rebels.
“She controls her body to contest the blocked shot and she still manages to get in good position to get the defensive board. She understands her body. She doesn’t block a shot and foul at the same time. She has always had the skill set.”
The 17-year old daughter of Matthew and Jennifer Drees of Sloan has been blessed over the years to have coaches like Johnson who have encouraged her to maximize her potential. As a result, she does more than just play with her back to the basket.
Drees, also Westwood’s career leader with 1,267 points and 785 rebounds, continues to drive to the basket. She has fine outside range which includes 51 career three-point field goals.
It has resulted not only with 40 career double-doubles and seven career triple-doubles. It has led to a college basketball scholarship.
Drees verbally committed last June to play at Minnesota State-Mankato. According to Drees and Johnson, the Mavericks utilize virtually almost the same things the Rebels undertake in a game.
Drees said Johnson challenged her after her sophomore year to take the ball off the dribble and attack the basket. She heard literally the same thing from her coach with the All-Iowa Attack in the summer of 2017, Waukee’s Allen Jones, who was the one who told her that if she wanted to continue the sport in college, she needed to be more well-rounded.
“Her game has expanded to facing the basket,” said Johnson. “That causes issues because teams can’t double or triple-team her anymore. At the end of her sophomore year, we talked about what would make her a better player. She had the height. We wanted her to focus on pushing herself to play on the perimeter.”
Drees is strong at reading defenses. Though her shooting percentage (48 percent) isn’t as high as her two previous years, she continues to test her outside shooting.
In fact, heading into action against West Monona, Drees had converted 12 of 25 three-point attempts in the Rebels’ seven-game winning streak.
“I’m still more comfortable with my back to the basket,” said Drees. “I have definitely grown as a player. Now, I’m able to step up and knock down a three, take the ball off the drive and be a threat in all three ways. I know I have a long way to go, but it’s a lot better than it was.”
Drees is one of four starting seniors, a list that includes 5-9 guard Andee Martin (15.3 ppg, 63 assists), 5-10 Brenna Pike (8.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) and 5-7 Makenna Harding (5.6 ppg). Each of these athletes also played for the 15-16 volleyball squad that lost to Gehlen Catholic in late October’s Class 1A regional final.
Needless to say, Drees wants a chance for the 1A state girls basketball tournament. Westwood’s last state appearance was 2001.
“I don’t go out on the court wanting to break a record,” said Drees. “I just want to get the team a win. I want to work to get a (state) banner on the wall. That’s the most important thing.”
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