BANGOR — Carsyn Koch already has established herself as a top-notch distance runner, winning the Class C cross country state championship last fall as a freshman at Washburn High School.
But while she may be more like Joan Benoit Samuelson while running through the woods and fields of northern Maine, during basketball season she’s been more like Dennis Rodman in helping the top-ranked Beavers advance to Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. Eastern Maine Class D final against No. 6 Deer Isle-Stonington.
No, there are no tattoos, nose rings or reality TV shows, but the 5-foot-7 Koch uses sprinter’s speed and endurance to become a disruptive force on the court whether she scores or not.
“She’s very fast, and we are very lucky to have her,” said Washburn senior forward Rebecca Campbell after Washburn’s 49-37 semifinal victory over defending state champion Fort Fairfield on Thursday. “I have told so many people that I don’t know what I would do if she was on another team. I’d probably say, ‘OK, just take the ball,’ because she is the fastest, scrappiest girl I’ve ever seen play before.”
That combination of speed and scrappiness came to the forefront during the decisive moments of the semifinal, a three-minute stretch encompassing the end of the first half and start of the third quarter when Koch scored six points and had two steals as Washburn outscored Fort Fairfield 11-1 to extend an 18-17 lead to 29-18.
“My job’s not really scoring,” said Koch, who nevertheless came off the Washburn bench to contribute eight points, five rebounds and three steals to the semifinal win.
“A lot of players might say, ‘She doesn’t score that much, she’s not that good,’ and a lot of players might be down on themselves because they don’t score, but it’s never really been my role,” said Koch.
“My role is more defensive, and coach [Mike Carlos] sticks me on the player that usually handles the ball and says, ‘She doesn’t get the ball, she doesn’t get the ball.’”
Koch teamed with freshman point guard Carmen Bragg and fellow backcourt mates Rayah Saucier and Megan Saucier to limit Fort Fairfield to 29 percent (12 of 42) shooting from the field and, more perhaps more satisfying, force 25 turnovers while defeating the Tigers for the third time this season.
“Stealing the ball and the look on someone’s face when they pass it and you steal it is better than scoring,” said Koch. “I think I’d rather steal the ball than score.”