Relentless rebounder ignites Rebels
Opponents know the key to beating Parkwood's girls is stopping Emry Tsitouris.
Now in her third year as a starter, the 5-11 junior forward made all-conference as a sophomore when she averaged a loud double-double — 15.5 points and 13.0 rebounds.
But even though Tsitouris is well-established and at the top of every team's scouting report, her numbers are even more staggering 15 games into her junior season.
After scoring 23 points and pulling down 20 rebounds in last Wednesday's loss at Monroe, Tsitouris pulled her season averages up to 20.1 points and 15.5 rebounds.
She has 13 double-doubles for the 11-4 Rebels, and has snatched at least 20 rebounds in four games.
Tsitouris is obviously talented, but what seems to set her apart is her relentless effort.
“I think night in and night out, she is our most energized player,” said Parkwood coach Don Mather. “She is the one we look to when we are struggling to score; we try to get it into her.”
Tsitouris has improved her game each season. She averaged 9.9 points and 5.1 rebounds as a freshman before breaking out as a sophomore.
“My freshman year it was a learning experience," she said. "I was getting used to the high school environment. I got to play with my sister (Tori) and that was awesome playing with her.
"My sophomore year I did what I had to do to get better at the game. I had to expand my game.”
Tsitouris says she fell in love with basketball in the second grade, and remains determined to improve.
Mather has witnessed her maturation.
“I feel like from last year to this year, she is a more diverse scorer," Mather said. "She shoots the ball from the outside a lot better, and she has gotten real efficient inside with her moves. She is playing a little more facing the basket. She has had to accept the role of being the go-to player.”
In addition to becoming the first option, Tsitouris is adjusting to being a leader.
“I lead by example,” she said. “We have some vocal leaders … I just try to play as hard as I can and hope everyone follows."
Tsitouris leads Union County in rebounding. She's had at least 15 rebounds in 10 games this season.
“I think rebounding is more effort. If you want the ball, you are going to get it,” said Tsitouris. “You just have to hustle. It is all heart.”
In a win over Charlotte Country Day last month, Tsitouris finished with 19 points and 25 rebounds.
“She is not always the biggest kid on the floor, but she just outworks people for rebounds,” said Mather. “She gets up in the air and she is just tenacious.”
In Wednesday's game at Monroe, Tsitouris became the 12th girl in Parkwood's 52-year history to join the 1,000-point club.
“It’s always good to do something you have worked for, but I couldn’t do it without my teammates,” said Tsitouris. “It’s more about winning. That’s what I’m concerned about. But it’s an honor to get something like that.”
In reaching the 1,000-point plateau, Tsitouris passed the person who inspired her to play the game of basketball — her mother, who played ball in college at Wingate.
Mather feels fortunate he's getting the opportunity to coach Tsitouris.
“She is a great kid, good grades, never in trouble," Mather said. "As far as coaching her, she is easy to coach. She just wants to win so badly. What I love about her more then anything is she has a never-ending motor and a short memory. She never takes a second off, she never takes a play off. She will have a bad stretch and it doesn’t faze her.”
Tsitouris has a goal of playing in college, and Mather expects to see it happen.
She doesn't have any scholarship offers. But Mather said an assistant coach from the Georgia Bulldogs was on campus Thursday, and N.C. State and Appalachian State are also showing interest.