Up to her nose in armpits and triple-teams, Lindsey Nartker fights the urge to lose her cool.
“I do get a little frustrated sometimes with (the extra defensive attention), but I just push through it and tell myself, ‘I can do this,’” the 5-foot-11 sophomore forward said. “I get a little angry about it – more determined to score.”
Nartker has wasted no time making a name for herself at Tecumseh High School, averaging an area-high 19.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.2 blocks for the Arrows (6-2).
The cool-headed product of former Wilmington and Ball State basketball stars Patrick and Sandy Nartker, she boasts an oncourt maturity beyond her years – an ability to outwit and outmaneuver flocks of long-armed defenders.
“I usually lose when I play mom and dad in the driveway – even now,” Nartker said, laughing. “Mom’s a closer match for me, but she’s smarter at the game that I am. I’m young and still have a lot to learn.”
Growing up in the shadow of talented, twin-tower parents has been equal parts blessing and curse for Nartker, a 4.0 student who credits their years of driveway tough love for hardening her into the player she is today.
“It’s awesome that I have their support – that they know what they’re doing and can tell me what I’m doing right and wrong,” she said. “But at the same time, when I play bad, they’re always right there with, ‘You need to fix this and you need to do that.’
“In the end, though, it’s a great experience. We can go to the driveway and play and have a lot of fun with each other.”
An All-Central Buckeye Conference first-teamer last year when Tecumseh raced to a school-record 23-2, Nartker was the only newcomer unintimidated by eventual University of Cincinnati signee Bianca Quisenberry and her 29 points per game.
“Bianca was who she was and everyone keyed on her,” said Tecumseh coach Danielle Thomas, who guided the Arrows to a Central Buckeye Conference, Kenton Trail title in 2013 – their first in 19 years.
“But Lindsey had never played with Bianca. She went in thinking, ‘Heck, I’ve always been the best player on my team, too.’ She wasn’t affected by playing with a star.”
Five games into her freshman season, Nartker got opponents’ attention, erupting for 18 and 17 points, respectively, in clutch wins over Urbana and Tippecanoe.
“At first I was a little nervous. These girls were good and I didn’t know if I’d be able to play with them,” Nartker said. “Once the season got going, I thought, ‘Maybe I can.’”
Equipped with strong hands and quick feet, Nartker occasionally defends opponents’ top shooting guards and has even run the point. She’s eclipsed 20 points a handful of times, including a career-high 27 in Thursday’s 63-43 win over Graham.
“I think she’s the best around as far as her position,” said Thomas, 68-65 in her seventh season. “I don’t think anyone has a forward her size who can do what she does.”
Buoyed by a youth feeder program, Thomas has steadily rebuilt the Arrows. They struggled through 5-16, 0-21 and 7-14 seasons before turning the corner in 2011. They are 56-14 since.
“Honestly, the only thing holding this group back is their confidence,” Thomas said. “Once they realize they can play with anybody and they all show up for four quarters, it’ll be a ballgame for sure.”