The Central DeWitt girls basketball team is off to quite the start.
The No. 10 ranked Sabers are 12-1, suffering just one two-point loss to No. 3 Center Point-Urbana.
Leading them in most stat categories is a pair of underclassmen: sophomores Allie Meadows and Taylor Veach.
The two were leaders as freshman as well, playing on a team that only suffered five losses during the 2018-2019 season. Veach averaged just over 13 points per game while Meadows put up 11, making a combined 60 three-point shots throughout last year.
But there were plenty of seniors on last season’s roster. Now, the dynamic has changed a little.
“As freshmen, we came in not sure if we were going to be leaders,” Meadows said. “Now, we’re captains with the seniors and have stepped into that leadership role.”
Veach now averages over 20 points per game and leads the teams’ rebounding effort. Meadows puts up 15 points per game, leading the team with 30 steals. The pair already have a combined 50 sunk three-pointers, proving that just one year of experience can make a huge difference.
Veach is very much a hybrid player. She certainly can put in the outside shot, but has taken on a role inside the paint as well. Her 5-11 athletic frame looks for the mismatches and uses them to her advantage.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect when we started,” Veach said. “From last year to this year, we learned what we needed to work on. We’ve improved so much on little things.”
Strength has been one of the things she worked on most in the offseason, and it certainly shows. She plays post with the biggest of them, and she’s pulled down 34 offensive rebounds to boot.
“Getting our strength up,” Veach said. “We’re playing older girls who are stronger and more mature. This summer, we got big into lifting.”
Meadows is more of a traditional guard with a smaller frame. Her speed makes her key on defense, and she has a team-high 30 steals in the first 13 games of the year. Defense has been one of the keys this season for the Sabers.
“We try to get defensive stops and then get the fast breaks off the tips,” Meadows said. “We’ve really focused on defense this year.”
Meadows is also shooting over 30 percent from beyond the arc as well, draining 31 so far. Veach shoots over 40 percent from the three-point line, and that’s a stat that’s been consistent for both of them through their first two years of varsity basketball.
Having that confidence to take those big outside shots didn’t just come to them. The two play AAU ball in the offseason, playing against some of the top teams and players in the state year after year. They play volleyball as well, but they’ve given up a lot in order to put the time into basketball.
That’s where they’ve learned to have that confidence.
“I think it’s all the time commitment we put in in the offseason,” Meadows said. “We play travel ball but we’re literally here every single day in the offseason for open gyms. I think it’s showing that we’ve put in that work and then showing it on the court too.”
That time they’ve put in is apparent. They play beyond their age on the court, unphased by top-ranked opponents who cross their paths.
They’ve got a talented roster with them, too. The Sabers have plenty of depth on their bench but their starters have really flourished in their roles and have complimented the standout talent of Veach and Meadows.
“We can’t do it by ourselves,” Veach said. “We need a team and everyone is really stepping into their role. That’s helped a lot with our team.”
“I think since they’ve stepped into their roles they really know what to do,” Meadows said. “They know how to get us the ball, but we know that we can get them the ball, too. It’s about trust.”
The Sabers are back in action on Friday night, traveling to Vinton-Shellsburg. They return home next Tuesday.