Mueller making name for herself at Lycoming

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Lycoming senior Shelby Mueller dribbles up the court against Alvernia during a women’s basketball game at Lamade Gymnasium earlier this season.

Shelby Mueller likes winning and being among the best when she’s on the court. That’s probably where she gets her competitiveness from.

Just watch her play at Lycoming and you’ll see it come out every time she boxes out for a rebound or drives into the paint for a basket.

Twice while in high school, Mueller reached the state finals, winning a PIAA Class AAAA championship as a junior with Spring-Ford and then finishing a runner-up as a senior.

Needless to say, her accolades at Spring-Ford helped land her on Lycoming’s radar and she ended up taking a chance on Lycoming to play basketball as a college athlete.

So has it worked out?

“She took a chance on us and it paid off. It really, really did. She’s been remarkable, and she’s a winner,” Lycoming coach Christen Ditzler said.

And since she’s stepped foot on Lycoming’s court, the Warriors have continued to have success. As a freshman in 2014-15, Lycoming won 15 games for the first time since 2008-09, and the Warriors’ 16 wins so far this season is the most for a Lycoming team since the Warriors went 17-8 in 1999-00.

“Since I’ve been in the program I’ve noticed like every year we’ve gotten better and stepped up, and personally I try to do the same every year,” Mueller said. “Try to get better, focus on new things, better stats, so it’s definitely cool to be part of this program and see more wins come in and everybody on same page with that.”

Mueller is currently fifth all-time in scoring at Lycoming, sitting at 1,202 points and is fifth all-time in rebounding with 698 after Saturday’s win against Arcadia. Mueller’s only 85 points from tying Annette Walker for fourth.

“She comes from a great high school program and that follows (you). When you know how to win in high school, you bring that mentality with you to college and that makes all the difference,” Ditzler said. “We knew that we could build around Shelby and she came in at a good time and was surrounded by some good players and we’re hoping to continue that hopefully.”

But earning those milestones never was on Mueller’s mind when she came to Lycoming as a freshman. Being among the school’s best wasn’t one of her goals, but it just so happened that way.

“I realized that I was starting to step up and set some records and I was like ‘oh, this is really cool’ and I realized I could do more, so I started to strive for that,” Mueller said. “It hasn’t been in front of (my mind) that I really focused on, but in the back of my mind, it’s there. It’s good. It’s a motivating factor.”

And motivating her has probably lent itself to Mueller’s evolution as a player from her freshman year to this season. It harpens back to that competitive drive.

“When I first came in freshman year I was like ‘wow everyone’s fast.’ So I focused on that. I focused on just hustling every game, that was my main point. If I can walk away from a game and say that I hustled, that would be a good game,” Mueller said. “I focused on new things every year. I focused on getting more rebounds, I focused on my shooting percentage. Just a lot of things I focused on personally to get better and benefit the team overall.”

Not to mention Mueller’s a double-double machine for Lycoming, as she currently has 22, which is fourth all-time, just four behind Julia Antonelli.

“I focus on them. When I see shot go up, I hope it goes in, but if not it’s cool to feel that I’m right there,” Mueller said. “I’ll get it and hopefully we can create an opportunity or stop them from scoring.”

“Defensively, there’s no one better at communicating and talking us through every single move we make out there and that’s probably the biggest thing we’re going to miss about her,” Ditzler said. “I thought past two years, especially this year, she’s focused so much on rebounding the basketball and I’ve seen her going after rebounds, both offensively and defensively, that in past she might not have done.”