Female Athlete of the Week: Bischoff brings grit to Rams

Haley Bischoff

STRASBURG – Haley Bischoff takes pride in her toughness and it shows on the court.

At 5-foot-4 the Strasburg junior is undersized for a forward, but makes up for her size with determination and toughness on the court.

“I’ve always been tough since I was little,” Bischoff said Wednesday afternoon after practice. “I always played outside with my brother and sister. Getting down and dirty — that’s just how I am. I like being scrappy. I like playing hard. I’ll give everything. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do.”

Bischoff’s toughness has shown throughout the season for the Rams. She’s currently second in the area in rebounding, averaging 9.3 rebounds per game. Usually she’s going up against players much taller than she is.

Strasburg girls basketball coach Darin Jenkins said she’s a very important part of the team.

“Haley’s one of those type of players that she’s always up for the challenge,” Jenkins said. “She never wants to be taken out of the game. She always wants to guard the best player on the other team. Most nights she’s guarding the best player on the other team. She does all the dirty work. It doesn’t always get all the headlines in the paper, but I don’t know what we would do without her some nights, because she rebounds for us, she plays good defense, she battles.”

Last week was just another example of Bischoff’s all-around play. She had 14 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and four assists in a victory over Rappahannock County. In a loss to William Monroe, Bischoff guarded 6-foot-2 freshman Sam Brunelle, and still had nine rebounds in the game.

Her strong week helped Bischoff earn her The Northern Virginia Daily Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Jan. 18-24.

Jenkins said he noticed against the Dragons the first time they played that Bischoff did a good job against Brunelle, so he had her guard Brunelle again last week.

“I put Haley on the freshman and she was up for the challenge,” Jenkins said. “I think she held her to, I think 15 points is what she had, so if you can hold her to 15 points you’re doing something right. That’s a credit to Haley and how hard she works, and how focused she is on the defensive end.”

Bischoff said she really enjoys playing defense and rebounding, and the challenge of playing against girls that are taller than she is.

“I like playing on the low block down at the free-throw line, because everything is still and as soon as the shot goes off it’s all or nothing. You have to get the rebound and go,” Bischoff said. “I like playing the bigger girls, because obviously I know they’re taller than me with me being short, but I feel like that’s why I have to strive to box out really well. … Like last year I was one of the shortest too and that’s my favorite thing to do — I like getting under the basket and battling.”

Bischoff does a little bit of everything for the Rams. She is averaging 8.0 points per game, and also 2.0 assists and 3.2 steals per contest. Jenkins said she can bring the ball up the court as well if the team needs her to.

She said she played on an Amateur Athletic Union team last year and worked on her game more in the offseason, which has helped in all areas including scoring.

Bischoff said she enjoys getting other players the ball and helping other players score as well.

“I’d rather give people the buckets,” Bischoff said. “Like I’ve scored that game, it’s time for somebody else to get a bucket.”

Bischoff said she started playing basketball in eighth grade. She said she had always played soccer, and she wanted to play something else as well, and decided to give it a try.

She has been Strasburg’s starting goalkeeper in soccer the last two years, and said while she still loves soccer she’s starting to really enjoy basketball as well.

Bischoff was one of three starters returning this season with a very young an inexperienced team. Jenkins said that Bischoff has taken on some of the leadership roles along with seniors Kelsey Jenkins and Carey Scott.

“As the year has went on Haley has also assumed that role, where we’ll watch her sometimes in practice if one of the younger girls is having a rough practice she’ll go over and pick her up,” Jenkins said. “She’ll talk to them. She’ll coach them through it, and she’s really become one of our leaders for us as the year has gone, along with Kelsey and Carey.”

After a slow start to the season, the Rams (7-10) have played better and a victory over Clarke County on Monday could put them in a tie for third in Conference 35. The top three teams in the conference get an automatic Region 2A East berth.

Bischoff said she feels good about where the team is right now.

“Everything’s starting to click,” Bischoff said. “We’re starting to beat teams by a lot. We’re starting to get everybody in the game, everybody’s scoring. Everybody has a positive mindset right now.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com