High School Basketball – Schmitz from GET completes his game

Sparta – Cody Schmitz picked up where he left off.

The junior winger from Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau High School started his third college campaign with a 30-point performance in Tuesday’s season-opener against Sparta, equaling his sophomore scoring average of 30.2 points.

Scoring has been Schmitz’s forte since joining the Red Hawks as a freshman, but after an off-season focus, he’s aiming to be more than just a volume scorer this winter.

“This year, I think you’ll see him take his game to the next level as a guy who can score, distribute, defensively and energetically,” said GET coach Jared McCutcheon.

In Tuesday’s 85-51 win over the Spartans, Schmitz’s 30 points did not amount to a complete game effort; The junior scored 22 points in the first half and spent the last eight minutes of the blast on the bench.

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However, it was enough for the coach to pass the 1,000-point barrier after the midpoint of his career, to close the game at 1,017 points.

Although he was only 13 points shy of the mark going into the game, he wasn’t too concerned about whether he scored 1,000 points against the Spartans or next week.

“Going in, we just wanted to win this game and if 30 points came, that came,” Schmitz said. “If 1,000 points come up, then he comes.”

More important to Schmitz and McCutchen was whether the junior could play a more extensive match. Although he averaged 9.9 rebounds per game to go along with his 30.2 points in an effort that earned him a high Associated Press All-State honorable mention, being more locked up on defense and being a better passer were two points of focus.

Improved passing was on display, as Schmitz tallied five assists in the win after making four or more passes just once last winter, thanks in part to improved shooting from the rest for the youth-heavy Red Hawks last season.

“When he’s as willing to pass as he was tonight, we’ve seen some great examples, we can be a very special team when we get contributions from other players,” McCutcheon said.

Throughout the offseason, Schmitz traveled around the country playing AAU ball with the Wisconsin Playmakers, and throughout that time he says he spent most of his time trying to hone his defensive skills further.

“I tried to keep my focus on playing intense defense,” said Schmitz. “That translates into points on the other side, whether that’s for me or my teammates.”

His increased passing ability may not have come from his work on the hardwood.

After playing quarterback for the Red Hawks this fall, Schmitz feels he has an increased sense of vision and awareness, as well as a closer chemistry with many of his fellow athletes.

“As a quarterback, I keep that leadership role on the football field helping out with basketball as I build that bond with the other kids,” said Schmitz.

After this stellar sophomore season, Schmitz really started recruiting heavily, saying he’s been in contact with seven or eight Division I teams so far.

This increased profile has another side as well, as the opposition defenses know they will corner him and the roadblocks will be louder than usual when he rarely makes a mistake.

Near the middle of halftime on Tuesday, Schmitz missed a free throw on the first whiff of the night, and the Sparta student section kicked an “overrated” chant, despite the fact that GET was ahead by 29 points and Schmitz already had 15 points.

Just as the quiet Schmitz doesn’t care much about how many points he scores as long as the team wins, the opinions of other fans don’t matter much either.

“Last year in the middle and end of the year, he had a lot of annoying fans. He’s used to it,” McCutcheon said. “I don’t think Cody thinks that much.”

Andrew Tucker can be reached at andrew.tucker@lee.net or via Twitter @andrewjtucker16

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