November 22, 2014

Medina
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Girls basketball: Gazette names Wadsworth’s Rachel Goddard as MVP

The Suburban League knew it well before everyone else in Ohio: Even if Wadsworth’s relentless pressure was somehow negated, there was still Rachel Goddard to contend with.

Special game plans were pointless. Goddard picked every one of them apart with the precision of a neurosurgeon.

It’s a fitting comparison, because the 5-foot-7 point guard was the brains to the Grizzlies’ operation. Figuring out how to limit her impact and put Wadsworth on life support was like trying to solve a Rubix Cube with a missing color.

Wadsworth senior Rachel Goddard is the 2012-13 Gazette MVP for girls basketball. (PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RON SCHWANE)

That didn’t stop coaches from trying.

“I thought that was kind of weird, honestly,” Goddard said. “I didn’t expect that, and it’s different to come into a game and coaches knew what you could do. They would try to take away a lot of that for you. I would just continue to play how I knew how. I went out there and did what I could.”

What Goddard did was drive coaches nuts, and there’s little questioning why the Miami of Ohio recruit is Gazette MVP for the second straight season.

Wadsworth’s high-octane, pressure-till-they-drop philosophy is as elite as it gets. It deservedly receives a lot of credit, as players have come and gone but the results have remained the same since the early 1990s.

There’s a catch to that. While the Grizzlies can pile on the transition points, their system is far less effective without a good point guard, especially when opponents don’t cough up the rock and force Wadsworth to play a half-court game. The Grizzlies have been spoiled with Cassie Schrock, Chrissy Pavlik, Taylor Woods and Goddard, as the quartet combined for seven Gazette MVP awards.

Much like fellow Mid-American Conference recruit Schrock, Goddard’s basketball IQ far outweighs her measurables. It’s often an overused cliché that players should take what the defense gives them, but Goddard used the philosophy better than anyone else to dominate beyond statistics.

More often that not, the Division I third-team All-Ohioan scoped the early stages of the game like a poker player. If McKenzie O’Brien, Haley Hassinger, Peyton Booth or Taylore Robinson had the hot hand, Goddard fed them the ball. If they didn’t or the transition game was working, she ferociously attacked the rim. If the defense scurried back in time, she calmly slowed the rush and waited for coach Andrew Booth to call a play.

In a sport built around split-second decisions, Goddard’s mistakes were few and far between.

“Her speed and ability make her a player that’s tough to deal with,” said Cloverleaf coach John Carmigiano, who raved about Goddard’s top-notch composure. “We were more worried about shutting other people down and letting her do her thing because it would have been a bigger challenge to stop her.”

Despite playing meaningful fourth-quarter minutes just seven times in 28 games, Goddard compiled 13.0 points on a Medina-County best .527 shooting, 3.1 assists, 2.2 steals and a ridiculous 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio that is on par with WNBA superstars Sue Bird and Linsday Whalen. She averaged 13.4 points against teams that finished with winning records and posted 15.3 points and 5.0 assists as the Grizzlies steamrolled to the Medina District championship.

Wadsworth reached the regional finals before falling in a 43-39 heartbreaker to Toledo Notre Dame. Much like an early-season loss to Twinsburg in which she scored a team-high 14 points and outplayed Ms. Basketball Ashley Morrissette for the better part of three quarters, Goddard’s decision-making kept the Grizzlies afloat. Her crowd-pleasing three-point play between three defenders with just over 2 minutes left put Wadsworth ahead, and she then made two textbook passes in the closing moments to wide-open teammates, but the long-distance shot attempts didn’t fall.

Though Goddard had the opportunity to force the action with the season on the line, she didn’t. The right basketball play 10 times out of 10 is to find the open player — and they were stunningly open, given the situation — and the percentages will tip in your favor.

That’s what made Goddard great. In such an adrenaline-filled scenario, she read the defense and instinctively put her team in the best position to win without giving it a second thought.

Falling one game shy of Columbus again was a lifelong dream shattered, but it didn’t negate a career Goddard wouldn’t trade for the world.

“I couldn’t ask for a better program to play for,” she said. “It was a lot of fun, and I played with a lot of great players. Coach Booth is a great coach and he pushes me every day. Playing the style of Wadsworth and the way we run everything is what made me who I am today.”

Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or agrindle@medina-gazette.com.