WAPELLO, Iowa — In her first two seasons on varsity, Eryka Dickey averaged nearly 10 points per game for the Wapello girls basketball team. But after losing two of their top three scorers from last season’s team, the Arrows needed Dickey to take even more control of the offense.
“I told her at the end of last season, all summer and at the beginning of this season, 'Look, you’re 15-plus,’” Wapello coach Brandon Brown said in reference to Dickey’s scoring. “She’s got to be somebody who steps up and gives us more points and gives us a little presence inside.”
So far, Dickey is showing the scoring prowess her coach knew she was capable of and has led Wapello to a 7-2 start to the season.
As a result, the Arrows are well on their way to their third consecutive winning season despite having only two seniors on the roster.
“We definitely want to have a winning season and be better for next year,” Dickey said. “Our biggest goal is to improve for next year.”
Dickey is averaging 13.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game for the Arrows through nine games. She’s improved as the season has progressed, too, as she averaged 15 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game in three games last week, all of which were wins for Wapello.
“That play we had the last week has been really good and we’d like to see it stay there,” Brown said. “I think she started a little bit slower trying to feel out what we were as a team and how much she had to score.
“I think she’s found her niche now, finding out she’s going to be who we play through most of the time.”
Even so, at just 5-foot-8, Dickey doesn’t profile as a typical post player. But that’s where she does most of her scoring. She's shooting 48.5 percent from the field and has attempted only six 3-pointers on the season. That’s because Brown says her athletic ability “is not typical for a high school girls basketball player.”
“I have to use my quickness and my ability to jump over taller players,” Dickey said. “A lot of kids are way taller than me. I put a lot of time in during the summer.”
Dickey has improved in more areas than just offense in her third season as a starter, too. Brown has noticed his junior make more of an effort on defense and rebounding the ball.
“It probably doesn’t show up statistically as much but we see it as coaches,” Brown says.
Still, Brown knows the area Dickey brings the most value is on offense, and she can get better after a 1-of-6 start from beyond the arc. She has shown touch from distance during her career, though, as she made 16 of 65 attempts as a freshman.
“She’s really a guard,” Brown said. “As we start getting the ball inside more, we’re going to start pulling her out.”
For now, her damage has been done in the paint and teams haven’t been able to double-team her. The Arrows play a more up-tempo system that emphasizes 3-point shooting in Brown’s second year as head coach after 13 as an assistant.
After receiving limited playing time a season ago, senior Emma Reid (7.4 points per game) and junior Holly Massner (8.6 points per game) have provided some scoring punch. Massner is shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc.
“She’s probably the best pure shooter we’ve had in the last two or three years,” Brown said of Massner. “She’s a lot better basketball player than she gives herself credit for. When she wakes up one morning and figures that out, she’s going to be really good.”
Of course, the Arrows also have Sammy Ewart, who is averaging 7.8 points per game as a sophomore after taking over point guard duties midway through last season.
With two of those three being underclassmen along with Dickey, who Brown feels could average 20 points per game on another team, the Arrows know next season could be a special year.
But, with Dickey leading the way, Brown thinks his team can do some damage this season, too.
“The question is, how fast do we develop?” Brown said. “Let’s focus on getting better every day and maybe we can make a run at the end of the year.”