Evart junior bidding to spark Wildcats on the boards

EVART — Natalie Belleville is a junior first-year varsity player being counted upon to help the Evart girls basketball team come out strong this month.

Evart was scheduled to resume action this week as the Wildcats try to bounce back from an 0-6 start. Upcoming games included road tests Friday at Marion and Monday at Big Rapids Crossroads.

Belleville has been playing hoops since elementary school and continues to adjust to the varsity routine.

“It took a week or so to get comfortable,” she said, adding that the biggest adjustment “is the speed, and you’re expected to catch on a lot quicker.”

Rebounding and defense have been among Belleville’s main roles this season.

“I’m a pretty good leader on the court, I feel,” she said. “I watch everybody and make sure we’re all in our spots. I talk a lot and keep us on our place. I rebound a lot.”

Belleville said she and the team continue to work on the fundamentals of rebounding. “We’re improving a lot on the rebounding,” she said. “My best game (points-wise) was eight.”

Post-up moves provide Belleville with a lot of her offense.

The Wildcats have played most of their games without starting center Mara VanOrder while she nurses an ankle injury.

“It’s been difficult,”’ Belleville said. “But we’ve been getting through it. A lot of girls have stepped up.”

The Wildcats were hopeful that VanOrder would return to the lineup this week.

“We’ll gain a lot of points,” Belleville said. “She’s a very good shooter.”

The Wildcats, Belleville added, have made a lot of progress since practices started in early November.

“Knowing what we’re doing and keeping up a good pace,” is the secret for the Wildcats to have success in upcoming games,” Belleville said.