'Just go for it': Rebounding is an art for this Tremont girls basketball player
PRINCEVILLE — Rebounding is somewhat of an art to Whitney Rumbold.
Despite a 52-32 title game loss to Elmwood in Wednesday’s 10th annual Lee Westerman Holiday Tournament, the Tremont junior put those talents on full display. She grabbed 12 rebounds to go with 12 points, matching a usual night’s work.
“Her instincts are great,” Tremont coach Justin Wahls said. “She’s not going to just stand on her tippytoes and try to get the rebound because she’s taller than people.”
Wahls says there have been many times when Rumbold is on the opposite of the basket when a shot goes up — and somehow corrals the rebound. Two of the many reasons she’s averaging 10 rebounds a game this season are her athleticism and motor.
"She’s a 100 miles per hour," Wahls said, "from the beginning to the end."
Rumbold has developed the knack of giving Tremont second chances or eliminating opponent’s additional opportunities.
“I’ve never been the tallest on my team, so I’ve always just kind of worked on jumping for every rebound,” the 5-foot-8 forward said. “My biggest thing is as soon as a girl releases the ball, I don’t necessarily go to the basket. I wait to see where it hits.”
“I think it’s more just kind of instincts — just go for it.”
The Turks (11-5), who saw their seven-game win streak snapped, have also relied on the all-Heart of Illinois first-teamer more than ever offensively this season. She returns for her third varsity season, looking to help fill holes left by the graduation of leading scorer Alli Fuller (19.2 points per game) and defensive specialist Abby Scott, who helped Tremont go 12-1 and finish as HOI runner-up in the shortened spring season.
'Pretty darn cool':Talented duo has Peoria High girls ranked No. 1 for the first time
Rumbold averages 14 points and 10 rebounds through 16 games. Her 21 points led the way in a five-point win over Princeville on Monday. She says it motivates her when overhearing other teams say they need to guard her tough.
“Now, when we need a point or somebody needs to score," Wahls said, "people are looking at Whitney."
However, it’s been a work in progress to get Rumbold to the point of feeling comfortable as Tremont’s No. 1 scoring option.
Her varsity career started as the third or fourth player off the bench to playing valuable minutes as a freshman during regional time. More than anything, Rumbold, who last season averaged 12.8 points, wanted to make sure her teammates were involved.
Grace Smalley and Erin Pulliam are both a big part of the offense — each averaging double-figure scoring.
“My hesitation with it was just not wanting to look like I was trying to play selfish ball,” Rumbold said. “I was kind of nervous to see how we’d be able to play without (them). …Not only have we had people step up, it’s been fun to kind of take on a challenge like that.”
'We’re like sisters': Brimfield cousins have girls hoops team ranked No. 1
But her defense might be the most underrated part of her game.
The middle of Tremont’s 2-3 zone is occupied by Rumbold, who gives opposing offensives fits with her high-energy play. Her 3.3 steals a game are a team high.
“She’s always in the right spot at the right time,” Wahls said.
If rebounding, scoring and being a solid defender weren’t enough, Rumbold has also stepped into a leadership role. It’s a job she takes seriously, according to Wahls.
Any early-season apprehension of being vocal from her regarding the direction of the team has faded.
“I just have to constantly remind (my teammates) that we still have the skill to do what we did last year,” Rumbold said.
Adam Duvall is a Journal Star sports reporter. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDuvall.