Riismandel points up Wildecats' mission

January 23, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

A little ice and snow cannot stop Kristen Riismandel.

With school closed for the past week, Wilde Lake's junior point guard headed to the Columbia Athletic Club for a few pick-up games with teammates Kim Driessen and Melissa Anderson.

"At least something is better than nothing," said Riismandel, whose team will have two full weeks off before it plays at Howard Friday night. "We've got to get a court and get as much of the team together as possible so we don't lose too much ground."

All Howard County teams find themselves in a difficult predicament because four days of exams will keep them off the courts this week until Friday night. But the layoff couldn't come at a worse time for Riismandel and the Wildecats.

In their last game on Jan. 14, the Wildecats played better than ever despite losing to Mount Hebron, 52-47. They were hoping that momentum would carry over. Now, they will have to wait and see.

There is no question, however, about what Riismandel and the Wildecats want from this season. Signs on their gym bulletin board proclaim the Wildecats "a team on a mission." After losing in the Class 1A regional playoffs two years in a row to Milford Mill by a combined total of five points, the Wildecats have definite plans for this March.

"We're on a mission to go to states," said Riismandel. "We're not worried about last year."

Riismandel leads the team in scoring with a 12.5 average. She also adds 3.9 steals and six assists per game, both team highs.

A strong defensive player, Riismandel has 20 more steals than turnovers this season, a strong statistic for a point guard.

But Riismandel's contributions include more than just her numbers, said Wilde Lake coach Kelly Rosati. Although Riismandel is only a first-year starter, her teammates elected her a team captain along with seniors Driessen and Anika Middleton.

"This year Kristen's able to take control," said Rosati. "She really pulls them together. She never gets down. No matter what happens, she never thinks we're going to lose. She always thinks we can come back and beat a team. I think that confidence spreads."

Part of that confidence comes from her constant work to improve her game. Last summer, Riismandel honed her skills at the Pocono Invitational Camp and on an AAU Under-16 team.

Riismandel, who carries a 3.86 grade-point average, also absorbed plenty from playing behind Wilde Lake stars Renita Young and Tracy Stefan.

"I'm trying to take over where they left off," said Riismandel. "I'm not getting as many points, but that can be good because everyone on our team is doing more scoring. They're getting like six and eight points a game, so it's OK if I'm not scoring as much if everyone else is contributing."

But Riismandel is the spark. With one shot -- usually an all-net 20-footer -- she can charge up her team.

From three-point range, Riismandel shoots better than from in closer. She averages 40 percent from the three-point line, hitting 13 in eight games. From two-point range, she shoots 32 percent.

"You need a three-point shooter because that really changes the game," said Rosati. "Kristen wasn't as strong as a ninth-grader, but she's worked hard to be consistent. She keeps getting better, and if she can become even more consistent, she'll be a huge threat."

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