Northeast Tarrant

Lady Panthers point guard learned as she waited out injury

Hannah Verdi learned a lot about the point guard position last season as she sat out with an injury.
Hannah Verdi learned a lot about the point guard position last season as she sat out with an injury. senglish@star-telegram.com

Effective point guards are efficient point guards because they need good vision. As frustrated as she was missing most of the 2015-2016 season with a torn right ACL, Colleyville Heritage girls basketball senior point guard Hannah Verdi saw a lot more when she was on the bench.

“I’d just notice open passes a lot more and I could pick up easier with the body language on the court,” Verdi said. “I think I saw some things where I knew I could be better. You can tell how much body language can draw reactions. It was hard to sit and watch. But I also got a different perspective.”

Verdi (5-4) is essentially the Lady Panther’s third point guard in as many seasons. In 2014-2015, Caitlyn Foster handled the duties. Verdi had been ticketed to take over in 2015-2016 before she suffered the injury in April 2015. That assignment went to McKinley Charles.

While Colleyville Heritage (17-6, 5-0 District 8-5A) has maintained consistency through head coach Dianna Sager’s tenure (13 postseason appearances in her first 15 seasons), Verdi’s return to running the offense makes a difference.

A big difference.

It was hard to sit and watch. But I also got a different perspective.

- Colleyville Heritage point guard Hannah Verdi, on missing most of last season with an injury

“What you see from her is that she does a great job controlling the tempo and getting the ball in the right place and finding the hot hand,” Sager said. “She’s been on the varsity for three years and understands. She runs offenses well and does what you expect to read defenses.”

With the ball in her hands, Verdi doesn’t have to score as she’s averaging less than three points per game. But she allows Foster to focus on her defense and contribute every now and then. Foster is considered by Sager to be Colleyville Heritage’s top on-ball defender.

Charles is much more free on the floor to take advantage of her marksmanship from 3-point range. The evidence supports it. In 2015-2016, Charles had 49 3-point makes. With at least eight games remaining this season, she is already up to 52 3-pointers. Colleyville Heritage is averaging 54.6 points per game and been held below 50 in just seven of its first 23 games.

“We’re just a much more fluid team offensively,” Sager said. “With McKinley last year, we were just limited to one shot. With Hannah back, she can play straight to their strengths. That’s what it does for us.”

Of course, Colleyville Heritage has one of the most dynamic scorers in the area in junior wing Bryn Gerlich. The offense starts with her. But a good point guard makes Gerlich even tougher to defend.

Verdi is averaging three assists to every one turnover she is committing. She operates the offense the way Sager wants it to be executed. Plus, she has the respect of her teammates.

Verdi is also more confident. Throughout her rehab, she never used a protective brace. She only used a sleeve. When she returned for a handful games last year, she stayed with the sleeve and never flinched from attempting to do any other movement. The sleeve remains part of the playing wardrobe this season.

“I trained without a brace and my doctors told me I could wear the brace if I wanted to,” Verdi said. “But it never bothered me. I’m just going to keep going.”

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