Norwell High School rising star Will Geiger maturing and producing on the court

Norwell High School sophomore Will Geiger after practice Feb. 21 at Norwell. (Photo by Reggie Hayes of news-sentinel.com)

OSSIAN – Norwell High School boys basketball coach Mike McBride sometimes forgets Will Geiger is only a sophomore.

That’s understandable. Geiger is 6-foot-4 and as fit as any high school player, and he has a knack for double doubles. In fact, he’s had nine this season and averages nearly that much production at 21 points and 9.7 rebounds per game.

“He’s actually progressed faster than a sophomore would normally progress,” McBride said. “He still has parts of his game that haven’t developed as much. His perimeter game will continue to evolve and he’ll be an even better player as he gets older, and he learns how to eliminate some careless fouls.”

Geiger, who played regularly as a freshman last season, had a stretch of games recently where he was nearly unstoppable. In a three-game week of wins, he scored 34 points with 17 rebounds against Bishop Luers, 20 points and 10 rebounds against Jay County and 29 points against Woodlan. His 34-point game was a season high. He pulled down a season-high 20 rebounds against Eastbrook in December.

Norwell (13-10) plays Marion (17-6) in the Class 3A sectional semifinals at 6 p.m. Friday at Norwell. Bishop Luers (1-20) plays Mississinewa (15-8) in the second semifinal.

If the Knights are going to pull out a surprise sectional championship, they’ll do so by feeding off Geiger’s talent.

“When you’re asking a sophomore kid to be your leader, that’s a real challenge,” McBride said. “Fortunately, our seniors have done a nice job in their roles and he’s grown as a leader. He’s seen some of the things he can do and the opportunities and he’s looking for those. He plays with a much greater sense of urgency now than he did as a freshman or even early in the year.”

Geiger’s aggression has paid dividends for the Knights, who have also benefited by the return of senior Cole Wilson from an injury.

Geiger played football and basketball through his ninth grade year before deciding to give up football to help work more on the family farm and to concentrate further on his basketball career.

“Last year, I was very new coming into it as a freshman, and this year I feel more comfortable and feel I’ve grown a lot in my game and with my teammates around me,” Geiger said.

Geiger worked a lot on his perimeter game, although he’s not yet a three-point shooting threat (he has made 5 of 21 threes). His free-throw shooting, a major part of his game as an inside player, is up this season. He has hit 73.5 percent of his free throws.

McBride sees Geiger as a force to build around in his second season at Norwell, and beyond. The Knights use two other sophomores regularly in guard Connor Torson (2.8 assists per game) and Quinton Purdy. Senior players Wilson (4.3 points per game), Brandon Nicholson (11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) and Luke Zeddis (7.2 points per game) have made for an effective veteran group around the younger players.

“Our guys are doing a good job of getting him the ball in position,” McBride said. “That’s evolved with our team, as well. They do a great job of getting him touches and getting Brandon Nicholson touches.”

The result is a much improved and tougher Norwell team than was on display when the season began.

“We’ve probably played some of our best basketball toward the end of the year,” Geiger said.

Geiger said the team has goals of winning a sectional championship this season, and his sophomore class has extended goals of make a long postseason run by their senior seasons.

“I think we can become a pretty tough team to beat,” Geiger said.

McBride has experimented with keeping Geiger in the game even when he picks up two early fouls. Convention wisdom says to pull a big man in that situation.

“His ability to be on the floor is so crucial,” McBride said. “As a coaching staff, we’ve allowed the opportunity to develop. We’ve let him go through some things, such as not always taking him out with two fouls.

“Sometimes we’ll leave him on the floor to play through two fouls,” McBride said. “I’ve not done that much except with senior kids. We’re trying to give him an opportunity to play through that. His continued growth has just made him a much more complete player.”

Geiger displays leadership skills and numbers worthy of an upperclassman. It’s no wonder McBride sometimes forgets he’s still a sophomore.

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