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Running the Show
by Nathan Shoup
Jan 16, 2014 | 1357 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Hannah Woytek, Spanish Springs senior point guard, is a large (if not the largest) reason the Cougars are 11-3 this season.
Tribune photo by John Byrne - Hannah Woytek, Spanish Springs senior point guard, is a large (if not the largest) reason the Cougars are 11-3 this season.
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You say Spanish Springs girls basketball. Everyone else says Hannah Woytek.

Standing 5-feet 4-inches tall, the senior point guard does not shadow over opponents but her on-court presence for the Cougars is much larger than a tape measure could quantify.

“She keeps the team together. She is the glue of the team,” first-year Spanish Springs coach Arturo Cardenas said.

Cardenas took over as the Spanish Springs girls coach this past summer and wasted no time running open gyms. The first person he met at that first open gym: Hannah Woytek.

“She goes out there and works hard. From time to time she gets on her teammates when they’re not working hard, which is the sign of a good leader,” Cardenas said. “She works her butt off. She is always first when we do conditioning.”

So yes, her personality, and drive, exponentially outweighs her lower center of gravity.

“I try to be positive but at the same time I’m aggressive with it,” Woytek said of her leadership style. “I don’t like losing. I’m really competitive.”

Led by its fiery point guard, Spanish Springs has not done a lot of losing this season. The Cougars are 11-3 overall, 3-3 in league games.

Cardenas installed a completely new style when he took over in the summer, which could be frustrating for any senior entering their final prep season. But for Woytek, it was just another year to play ball.

Woytek played her freshman season at North Valleys before moving to Spanish Springs, making Cardenas her third high school coach in four years.

“To be honest, last year compared to this year, everything is opposite. What we learned last year is totally different than what we learned this year,” Woytek said. “It’s like learning basketball all over again almost.

“I think at the beginning it was kind of hard but after awhile we all kind of bought into it and it’s been a lot easier … Transition has kind of gotten to be one of the things I’m good at.”

While Cardenas’ motion offense remains a work in progress, the defense continues to be a bright spot for the Cougars. Spanish Springs is allowing only 35.8 points per contest and has held opponents to less than 30 points four different times.

Woytek takes pride in her ability to spread the love on the offensive side but her leadership is not limited to when she has the ball in her hands. She is one of the perimeter defenders in the region.

“When you take over a program, one thing that is very important is a point guard,” Cardenas said. “She is also a leader on the defensive end. She is working hard and if she is not guarding the ball, harassing the ball, she is ready to help her teammates out.”

Because passing and on-ball defense have dominated her game her first three years in high school, scoring has been a secondary weapon in Woytek’s arsenal. That changed this year.

Woytek is now Cardenas’ go-to scoring option.

“She has a good shot,” Cardenas said. “I’m trying to get her more shots right now.”

“I kind of realized that (I needed to be a scorer),” Woytek said. “With everyone being new, a lot of people this is their first year playing varsity, so I kind of have to take that step.”

Woytek has landed on the all-league second team every year she has played so she hopes to break on to the first-team threshold this season. She also said making the playoffs this season would be a “huge accomplishment” given the amount of new faces on the roster this season and implementing a new system.

In the rare moments she is not on the court, she can be found at the gym where she works with a personal trainer. In the even rarer moments she is not doing either, she enjoys playing the role of a stereotypical teenager: lounging around.

After her high school career comes to a close (a moment she does yet not want to think about), Woytek will take her talents to Notre Dame de Namur University in San Francisco, a NCCA Div. II affiliate. She signed her letter of intent in the fall in front of friends, family and television cameras.

“When I went down there (to visit) I played with them and I feel like I can definitely play at that level,” Woytek said. “But I don’t think it will hit (me) until I graduate and the day before I’m leaving.

“Basketball wise, I’ve played basketball my whole life so I feel like that’s not going to be any different.”
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