Amelia Mikula is the best-kept secret on the St. Mary's girls basketball team.
And she doesn't mind at all.
Cast in a shadow of anonymity by 5-foot-4 guards Randall Goldsborough and Bridget Smith, the 5-11 senior forward slowly is emerging from the darkness. And as her eyes adjust to the light, she is focused on the Baltimore Catholic League title.
"I never really looked to be in the spotlight because we've always had so much talent on our team," said Mikula, who recorded 14 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out of Friday's 57-55 victory over Mercy.
"I never asked for the spotlight. If I played on another team, maybe I would get noticed alittle more, but I guess that comes with playing with people that are really good."
Mikula may try to sell herself short, but her numbers speak for themselves. This season, she quietly has become the county's second-leading rebounder, averaging 10.8 boards a game. She also is averaging 10.6 points per game and is just under 70 percent fromthe foul line (48 of 72).
Furthermore, in the Saints' 16 games this season (14-2 overall, 8-0 in the league), Mikula has tallied 23 steals, 20 assists and seven blocked shots.
"Amy's a complete player," said Coach Harry Dobson, who worked with Mikula on the Saints' junior varsity in the ninth grade. "She always faces the best defensive big man on the other team, and she still comes up with a lot of rebounds and we can rely on her from anywhere from 10 to 20 points a game.
"Her intensity is a lot better and she's improved a lot in her defense and strength, lifting weights in the off-season. She's not realbig, so her strength has helped her in her rebounding.
"When Laura (Coakley) went down last year, Amy stepped in and it helped her a great deal. She found out that she could play. She has a great deal ofconfidence and she knows what she's supposed to do and has done it so far."
Carmine Blades, who coached Mikula on the varsity the pasttwo seasons before turning over the reigns to Dobson, said he has seen her grow over the years, both mentally and physically, and attributes her success to strength and experience.
"She has improved a great deal since last year," said Blades. "She has a stronger inside game than last year. The experience she has gained over the past two years on varsity, plus playing summer ball, has helped her improve her movement to the basket.
"She's been very effective hitting from the inside so teams can't play gimmick defense against Randall and Bridget and get away with it. Once she hits a couple shots inside teams realize they have to concentrate on her just as much."
That's exactly what happened Friday.
With the Sharpshooters playing a tight zone defense in the first half, Mikula was held to four points. However, in the second half, Mercy was forced to spread things out to stop Goldsborough from burying three-pointers at will, thus opening the door for Mikula and fellow forward Kristine Manning.
"Most teams run a triangle-and-two or a box-and-one and that leaves me and Kristine open," said Mikula, who plans to attend Johns Hopkins University next fall, where she will study pre-medicine.
"Kristine has a better shot than me, but I play the boards more. I lift weights every other day and I love rebounding. I like rebounding more than I like shooting."
One of Mikula's biggest fans is Goldsborough, another three-yearstar for the Saints. Goldsborough calls her "the smartest player on the team."
"She does a lot of thinking out there," said Goldsborough, who captured the spotlight again Friday with 27 points (includingsix three-pointers), nine rebounds and five steals.
"She's probably the only person out there who is constantly thinking about what she does before she does it. You can tell. She gets the ball and will do a move without even looking up at the basket."
As a co-captain, Mikula has been thrust into a leadership
role -- something she admits is an adjustment, albeit a pleasureable one.
"I've always beenone of the youngest kids on the team, and this year, I'm one of the oldest because we lost so many people," she said. "It's fun being a captain."
Although the role is new to her, Dobson believes she is anatural.
"She's a vocal leader and she really can rally the girls," he said. "Randall is the quiet one who leads by example."