Effingham St. Anthony Dieterich Girls Basketball

St. Anthony’s Nancy Ruholl dribbles up the court during a girls’ basketball game against Dieterich on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, at Beecher City High School.

Nancy Ruholl is unlike most freshmen.

A starting guard for the St. Anthony girls’ basketball team, Ruholl has held that role the entire 2022-2023 season and has not disappointed.

Ruholl currently averages 14 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and three steals per game.

The wins have come with that, too.

Ruholl has helped lead the Bulldogs to a 20-4 record and an unblemished mark in the National Trail Conference.

“I impact the team by adding another body to it; the team has made (more of) an impact on me,” Ruholl said. “This team has great chemistry, and we all work hard together. We always push each other in practice which has resulted in our success.”

Typically very quiet on the court, Ruholl possesses a leadership trait many don’t see from a freshman.

Jayme Petty — Ruholl’s former head coach at St. Michael’s School in Sigel — did notice it, though, doing so when she was in the seventh grade.

“Nancy was a great leader, even as a seventh grader. She took charge on the court but did so in a way that helped her teammates learn instead of putting them down,” Petty said. “She was intelligent, level-headed, and incredibly talented. Nancy is a coach’s dream. She has an incredible natural talent but is an extremely hard worker. (Nancy) would get to practice or games early to shoot around, stay late, work on defense with her brother, and constantly wants to do better. She listened when instruction was needed and helped execute those in-the-moment plays.

“In addition to her talent, she is such a team player. She was encouraging and constructive and knew she needed her teammates to help get the job done.”

Ruholl’s current head coach at St. Anthony, Aaron Rios, agreed with that and added, “Those intangibles that make her a young kid in our program are the things that help her shine on the basketball floor.”

Petty added that she wasn’t surprised to see Ruholl posting the numbers she has been posting this season, either.

To Petty, Ruholl is the complete package.

However, Ruholl won’t settle on that. She believes there is always room for improvement.

“I have a lot of game to work on and improve, but the most important skill for me to work on is my ball handling,” Ruholl said. “I also like to focus on defense and rebounding.”

While Ruholl will want to work on those three areas, there is a lot for fans to see now that will wow them.

Rios noted her touch around the basket and pull-up game, among other areas, that do as such. He added that both make her the dangerous player she is and will only continue to be.

“Her touch is good. What’s unique about her is that she can get downhill and finish well,” Rios said. “She’s a great free-throw shooter. (Nancy) is at 85 percent this year as a freshman, and that’s phenomenal; outside of that, she has a pull-up game. She can come off our plays, one-to-three dribbles, read the defense, pull up, and knock a jump shot down in your face. That makes you extremely dangerous and tough to guard for any player.”

Ruholl will continue to put all that on display tonight in the National Trail Conference Tournament Finals against Neoga — a team she helped defeat by 40 points eight days ago.

Contact EDN Sports Editor Alex Wallner at 618-510-9231 or alex.wallner@effinghamdailynews.com.

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