Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3)
FRANCONIA -- Erin Bohmueller wanted to be better.
In her first two years with the Souderton girls' basketball program, Bohmueller knew she had a bad habit defensively. A good shooter and floor spacer offensively, the junior knew she could add more value to her team if she kicked her old defensive identity out and adopted a new, more effective one.
Bohmueller's steps toward becoming a two-way impact player were on display Tuesday night as Souderton bested visiting CB West 38-31 to take sole possession of first place in the SOL's Colonial conference.
Erin Bohmueller (above) and Souderton shut down CB West's best offensive options. (Photo: Andrew Robinson/CoBL)
"I had been one to let my player get by me then block them from behind because I had a height advantage," Bohmueller said. "I've talked with (coach Lynn Carroll) and she always tells us how we all have so much potential on defense. I have the length and the quickness a lot of other people don't have, so it was definitely a big focus for me."
Bohmuller, listed at 5-foot-10, has good height for a guard but also a very wide wingspan. Offensively, it makes her hard to block and lets the junior shoot over contesting defenders but on defense, she was at times using it as a crutch.
It's normal for a younger player at any level to come into a new team or program and rely a bit on what worked for them at previous stops. For Bohmueller, who plays AAU for the Mid-Atlantic Magic, it was using her long arms as a surprise factor to swat a shot from a player that thought they were in the clear getting past her. Seeing that trick not have the same effectiveness against quicker and craftier players at high school, she put in the work to stay in a stance and use her length as a deterrent in other ways.
"Breaking that habit has really helped," Bohmueller said. "The quicker players, they would get by me and I couldn't block them. I think it's harder to get by me or get a shot off over me if I stay in front, so I've really worked on that in practice."
Tuesday, Bohmueller had the assignment of covering West's sharpshooter Tai Henkels. The Bucks junior has been terrific this season and is one of those players who rarely stops moving, making her all the tougher to guard.
Carroll lauded Bohmueller's defensive effort after the game, noting she had to play chase-around for 32 minutes while also navigating the screens West's frontcourt players love to set to free up Henkels for shots or others for drives.
"She's a knock-down shooter, so cutting her shot off was so important," Bohmueller said. "I was just putting my all into it. I knew she was going to be looking to get around those screens so I had to go all-out."
Souderton point guard Casey Harter has been known as one of the best defensive players in the SOL since her freshman year and her own tall task on Tuesday guarding West senior Emily Spratt. Just having that second perimeter defender this season has made Harter's life a little easier knowing she and Bohmueller are at the very least going to make the opposition's best players work really hard for everything they get.
Tuesday, that added up to just six points with Bohmueller keeping Henkels to one and Harter helping limit Spratt to just five, both well under each of the Bucks' season averages.
"We know we can try and lock down the best players on the other team and it lets everyone else on our team still play solid defense," Harter said. "We rely on our help, so for us, we know we always have that help and it lets us play our hardest."
It wasn't just defense for Bohmueller either, as she led her team and all scorers with 13 points. She had six in the first half to help Souderton a 14-10 lead at the break, then dropped seven in the final quarter that included half of her team's 8-of-8 finish at the foul line in the final minute.
She buried a three off a pass from Harter early in the quarter to stop a quick West spurt and put Souderton back in front, then hit her four attempts from the line down the stretch to help ice an important win nearing the midpoint of the season.
Tuesday's win was the first against the Bucks for anyone on Souderton's roster. With no seniors either, it was a definite confidence-boosting win for a team that knows it has two years to work with as a group and that believes it hasn't even come close to seeing its ceiling yet.
"It shows us what type of a team we are and that we have so much potential," Bohmueller said. "If we just put it to work, like we did tonight, then we can go so far. We're kind of a young team, so it's still harder for some of the younger girls to keep pushing after a mistake or something like that but the chemistry we have on this team, it's going to help so much getting past things like that."
Souderton: 8 | 6 | 8 | 16 || 38
CB West: 7 | 3 | 9 | 12 || 31
S: Erin Bohmueller 13, Casey Harter 9, Teya McConnaha 7, Grace McDonough 5, Mikayla McGillian 2, Brooke Fenchel 2
CBW: Katie Finnan 11, Ava Longo 8, Emily Spratt 5, Alexis Castro 4, Nia Perry 2, Tai Henkels 1