No matter the situation, you won’t see the expression on Ella Thompson’s face change too often.
Hey, you won the lottery! Cool. Look out for that falling piano! Cool. We’re down two with five seconds left — here’s the ball. Cool.
Thompson’s stoic self-assuredness has been a steadying influence for the Center Grove girls basketball team, which took an 8-1 record into Thursday night’s game at Bloomington South.
“She’s been so composed for us,” Trojan head coach Kevin Stuckmeyer said. “She slows us down and gets us in the right frame of mind at times. And that showed the very first game of the year at Plainfield. Emma (Utterback) went out, kind of hurt, and Ella stepped up, and you just felt our team slow down and be composed when the ball was in her hands.”
“I enjoy calming my team down, and I honestly don’t really mind that pressure,” the junior guard added. “I know my team looks to me to calm them down, get them into the offense, kind of get them settled down.”
As a sophomore, Thompson was the Trojans’ starting point guard. This year, under first-year coach Stuckmeyer, she’s been splitting those duties with Utterback and falling into more of a combo guard role.
Not surprisingly, it’s one that the unflappable Thompson says she’s comfortable with.
“For me, that wasn’t that big of an adjustment,” she said. “Emma’s a great point guard as well; she can play on the ball and play off the ball as well.”
Stuckmeyer says that many of Thompson’s most important contributions don’t show up on the stat sheet, but she’s been pretty good about filling that up all the same. Second on the team in scoring (8.9 points per game) going into Thursday, Thompson was the Trojans’ assists leader with 28 and their top 3-point shooter at 52 percent (13 of 25).
At 5-foot-7, she was also their top rebounder (5.2 per game).
The coach pointed to Thompson’s ability to “hip in,” or box out on missed shots, as a reason why she’s able to grab boards against taller players.
“The fundamental things, she just does a phenomenal job of,” Stuckmeyer said.
Observers have noticed — as the recruiting process has heated up for the junior, college offers have started trickling in. For this season and next, though, Thompson is focused on helping the Trojans excel.
Stuckmeyer feels good about his team’s chances, especially with Thompson setting the tone.
“She’s just our even-keel, rock-steady person that doesn’t always get the glitz and glamour but does all the little things that sometimes don’t get noticed by the fans,” he said. “She’s just very mentally tough, and it comes through in her demeanor.”
Ella Thompson has been a calming force for the Center Grove girls this winter. The junior guard’s numbers thus far:
Points: 8.9 (2nd on team)
Rebounds: 5.2 (1st)
Assists: 3.1 (1st)
Steals: 1.6 (3rd)