BELLBROOK — Bailey Zerby was a circle trying to fit into a square hole last season.
As a sophomore move-in from Wilmington, she was on the Bellbrook varsity girls basketball team but didn’t always feel like she was part of the team.
“I was new,” she said. “I wasn’t comfortable. I didn’t really know anybody. It’s hard moving, especially when you’re in high school and you’ve been in one school all your life. I played, and I was just nervous. Scared to mess up.”
It showed in her play.
Now a junior starter for the Golden Eagles, Zerby is no longer the new kid, and it’s quite obvious. After averaging around eight points a game last season — the Golden Eagles had other scoring options — Zerby leads the 8-1 team at 13 points per game, good for ninth in the Southwestern Buckeye League.
“I’m feeling more confident,” Zerby said after helping Bellbrook beat Brookville last Saturday in a SWBL contest. “I feel more connected with everybody. I know everybody. Me and (Coach Jason) Tincher created a really good bond from last year. I think my attitude changed. Last year I was just down when I’m not doing good.”
It was almost feast or famine last season, when Zerby scored double figures just five times in the regular season. This season she has only failed to hit double figures once — a season-opening win over Beavercreek.
“The first thing that pops off the charts for me is her consistency,” Tincher said. “Last year as far as her scoring, the way she scored last year she’d have two, five, 15, two, four, 16, six. Her scoring was inconsistent last year, but I think we were both struggling to figure each other out. Being at a new school she was just trying to prove herself too much. We had many talks. She was very receptive.”
Knowing the Golden Eagles lost three of their top five scorers from last year, Zerby rebooted her game to become more well-rounded this season.
“She defends better, she’s driving to the bucket to get our best look,” Tincher said. “She’s passing up a shot to get a better shot for a teammate. Her and I are seeing things the same way. More on the same page. Better shot selection. I think she’s getting better looks this year.”
Zerby and Tincher both understand that she will need to continue to score more for Bellbrook to add to its recent string of deep tournament runs.
“It’s very vital that Bailey feels confident in her shot,” Tincher said. “We tend to shoot a lot of threes every year. She seems to have a high percentage of makes.”
Zerby has gone from 22 percent from long range last year to nearly 35 percent this season.
“I know that I need to score more,” she said. “I knew I had to be a leader. When my threes don’t drop, I drive.”
Zerby credits time spent in the gym for her increased output. During the summer she put up 500 shots a day using Bellbrook’s The Gun shooting machine to help.
“Everyday I was in the gym,” she said. “I’m more fluid (shooting).”
And more comfortable on the team.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.