August 13, 2015

Bechtle ready for final push

Kevin McCarthy

5-foot-7 Nikiya Bechtle is looking at greater responsibility with her ultra-successful Scotts Valley High team as she enters her senior season but she's primed for just that after an outstanding spring and summer with the West Valley Basketball Club (WVBC) .

photo of Nikiya Bechtle

Always one to go 100%, the point guard learned more about herself with this season's travel ball participation. “My team went into some really hard tourneys. One time, we played 11 straight days in 15 or 16 games. I could always push myself physically but pushing myself mentally was new.”

For the record, the WVBC participated in events in southern California, the East Bay, Oregon, Chicago and Las Vegas.

Here's WVBC Coach Bob Bramlett, one not given to overstatement, on Bechtle: “Nikiya is one of the best point guards to every come out of our program and I include Serena Benavente (Heidelberg Germany and St. Mary's), Cecilia Russell-Nava (New Mexico), Tameka Blue (Cal State Dominguez), Ali Mollet, Tika Koshiyama-Diaz (Sacramento State) and Kirian Ishizaki (UC Irvine), all great players themselves. She belongs in that class.”

And why so? “She is the most relentless player I have coached and has a motor that runs all game. She shot well into 60% from outside the arc, finishes with both hands and makes great decisions with the ball. Her recruitment has been good though she has expressed a very strong desire to stay local. Once they take the time to see her and what she brings it is a no-brainer. I saw the same thing with Orlando Johnson, who was recruited by schools like Purdue and Pitt as well as many outside the Bay Area but had limited interest initially from local schools. How did that turn out? This summer I would say her last three minutes of a hard fought game against a very strong team out of the northwest was her best. She went 2-2 from outside the three line, had a short jumper, went 6-6 from the free throw line and had two steals as well as locking up the opposing point guard in front of a packed house of college coaches. I'll take her and Haley Jones up against any two guards in the country and its even money pick-em.”

Bechtle's taking her acquired knowledge and will be applying it when the Falcons begin play in November in the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League (SCCAL). “I'll need to step in and do a lot more of everything.”

One reason is because her Scotts Valley squad has graduated the league co-Most Valuable Players as Mandy Silver will be playing at the University of Redlands and Charlie Boyle at Emerson College. The Falcons finished 25-6 in both of the past two seasons as well as two years of participation in the CCS Open DIV playoffs.

As for Bechtle's more tangible skills, she displays a high level of insight. “I'm very comfortable with the ball, I trust myself. I have a really good basketball IQ and instincts and know what pass leads to the pass that leads to a score. I can tell what is going to happen.”

Asked how she developed this court vision, Bechtle offered two elements. “Watching a lot [of basketball] was helpful and also playing in open games. You don't know the players and that forces you to learn the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates really fast. I have to quickly learn how to set them up well.”

Here's a detailing of Bechtle's career numbers and honors thus far:

Bechtle also was invited in July to try out for the 2014 USA Basketball Women's U17 National Team in Colorado Springs. “I was nervous and excited going into it but it was a fun experience. I took a lot away from it, because of the great competition, like what I need to to work on.”

Carrying a 4.3 weighted grade point average, she has also learned an off the court skill that has proven extremely handy. “I'm good at time management.”

Make that off and on the court.