Under the Hood: Fisher guard lighting it up with increased scoring role

RANTOUL — Sidney Hood is on fire.

After seeing plenty of minutes as a freshman last season but having a smaller scoring role, Fisher’s sophomore guard has taken her game to a higher level and has ascended rapidly, cementing herself as perhaps the Bunnies’ most dangerous scoring threat.

Just as it was last season, Fisher’s girls basketball team’s offensive success is centered on getting the ball in the post to Alivia Spenard and Becca Clanton and getting to the free throw line. But when the Bunnies get some contributions from other key players, that’s when the offense truly opens up.

Right now, Hood has been that major contributor, catching fire over three of the last four games to produce the best week of her young career.

She poured in a career-high 23 points versus Lexington last Monday, topped that with 24 points against Rantoul on Saturday and scored 17 against LeRoy on Monday.

The common denominator among those three games? All three were Fisher wins.

“When we can get a few points from people other than Alivia and Becca, that’s when we’re really successful,” Fisher coach Ken Ingold said. “Sidney Hood’s had a really good week. She’s showed that she can not only hit the outside shot, but she can also get to the basket. She defends really well — there’s a lot of pressure on her playing the point of our 1-2-2 zone. She’s got a lot of ground to cover.”

Of course, it’s been more than just a few points lately for the dynamic youngster. In a 54-44 victory over Rantoul, Hood drained a pair of 3-pointers from the same spot in the right corner to tally eight points in the first period before netting seven points in the second quarter. She added her fourth and final trey in the third quarter and a couple floaters late to seal the Bunnies’ first win over Rantoul since 2014.

In fact, the only time Hood seemed to miss was in the final seconds, as she went up for a short shot, heard Ingold yell from the sidelines “Don’t shoot!” while hanging in midair and then came to the ground while still holding the ball — a traveling call she was able to laugh off later on.

“It’s kind of hard to believe, but I’m just working at it, trying to do my best for this team,” Hood said of her terrific week. “I really worked on free throws, actually (in the offseason), because I struggled with those last year. I’ve been trying to get to the line more this year so I can add those extra points. It definitely (helped with my jump shot, too). Just mentally I was nervous, but I worked on that and continue to work on that.”

Even though she wasn’t a starter for the 2016-17 squad, Hood was still able to receive valuable experience on a team that played for a regional championship. More than anything, it helped develop team chemistry.

“I think it got me to know what the other girls on our team are like because I had never played with Becca or Alivia. They’ve always been two years older than me. I think that really helped show what we can do as a team,” Hood said. “They’re really tough players. They really like getting to the free throw line, especially Becca. She’s always getting to the free throw line. And Alivia, we can always count on her making her free throws.

“I’ve been looking at what Becca and Alivia are doing. They’re our team leaders. I’m kind of building up off of them. They’re great team leaders, so it’s good to look at them to see what I can do as a team leader, too.”

Hood worked a bit more as a point guard last season, but with Karissa Fredrickson, Daneigh Burk and Kyesha Siggers able to run more point this year, it has helped enable Hood to move to a much more comfortable spot off the ball as a shooting guard. And with Hood’s emergence, Burk’s continued improvement and younger post players Ashley Smith and Ashlynn Carpenter starting to see some more playing time, the four sophomores offer a bit of optimism for the future.

“We’re trying to run some things for her, and against that matchup zone, instead of having her out top handling the ball, I thought it helped us a lot getting her on the baseline where she was getting open for that shot,” Ingold said. “If she’s out front, she’s not going to get that shot. So we made an adjustment in Karissa and Daneigh handling it out front, and that left Sid to get open and run the baseline.

“I think (Hood’s) first love is golf, but hopefully she’ll keep playing basketball and softball for three more years. I think she’s really athletic, and I think she has a natural talent for understanding the game. She understands angles a little better now than she did last year, so she knows how to get open. I hope she can keep it going. We feel pretty good when she can score 15 or 20 points. When we get her in double figures, we feel good. … We’ve got some size, and I think we’ll have some guard play, so I think, even though we won’t have any seniors most likely next year, if Sidney and Daneigh keep coming along we’ll be OK.”

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZackCarpenter11.

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