Pulling the strings
by Matthew Ondesko: Managing Editor
Hands over her face, slouched down in the chair, it’s a feeling that Randolph High School’s Skylar Herington doesn’t want to feel again.
After a tremendous hoops season, the Cardinals fell just short last year - falling in the state finals. That was all the motivation that Herington needed coming into the 2023-24 season.
“After losing the state final in March, I just knew I needed to work every day to get back there,” stated Herington. “So, coming into this season, I just have had the mentality that we are going to win and that we will work hard every possession. The off-season work, and outside-practice work, has really helped me to be able to hit shots and be able to score on good defenders.”
When Herington steps on the court, she knows what to expect. Every team is looking to stop the dynamic guard. Frustration could easily set in when you aren’t getting the ball as much as you want. Even when she isn’t getting her looks early on in the game, Herington has complete faith in her teammates to knock down the open looks.
When that starts happening, it opens her game up.
“When teams double me or face guard, I trust my teammates so much and know they will hit shots if I can’t,” stated Herington. “Otherwise, they are setting screens for me, hitting backdoor passes, running different plays that will get me open, etc. I try not to get frustrated and just keep working the defender until she gets tired. Then I am able to make a play and get some shots up.”
The good thing about Herington is that she can play both guard positions, which makes it even harder for opposing teams to stop her. There are games where she will just run the point, and take what the defense gives her.
If it’s her getting the pass to the right teammate and having them take over, that’s fine by Herington. Then there are games where she will just take the ball and go off. Get in that zone, that every players wants to be in.
“During my AAU season I had to be my teams point-guard, so being that against high level competition has really prepared me for being it during high school,” stated Herington. “When I am Point I am just trying to see the floor and hopefully make the right play for the team. Our team has a great point guard so when she is point I can go to my regular shooting guard position. When I am at shooting guard I just try to get us a bucket or make that one-more pass to my teammates."
One such game where she just took the ball and dominated was against Sacred Heart. The Sharks have a very quick team, and dominate point guards. But, Herington knew this was a big game. It was a chance for Randolph to prove themselves against a very good Monsignor Martin team in Sacred Heart.
All Herington did was absolute go off for 36 points as Randolph lost an exciting game, 69-65, to the Sharks. While they lost, it showed everyone that the Cardinals could compete with anyone in Western New York.
It also showed that Herington doesn’t need a lot of space to get her shot off. She was guarded closely the entire game, but it didn’t matter. Herington was in the zone, and felt amazing.
“Being in the zone is my favorite feeling while playing. I just had the mentality that we were not going to lose and that I needed to work 2x harder for the team,” stated Herington. “My shots were falling so I just kept shooting and driving and played until the end. It was unfortunate that we lost, but the team battled hard and we learned from it.”
Pressure during a game is nothing new for Herington. She knows all eyes are on her every time she steps on the court. Handling pressure is nothing knew, however. Herington has learned to deal with everything that comes with being a great player during her time playing travel ball.
Travel ball is the best of the best. Herington is playing with some of the best players in Western New York, and against some of the best players in the country.
“During travel, I learned how to handle pressure, how to drive against good defenders, and how to get my shot off quicker. I also learned how to defend good players and try to make them uncomfortable,” stated Herington. “Playing against that competition can be really hard sometimes, but playing against the best players has gotten me to where I am and will get me to where I need to be. Playing with the best girls is also very fun. I love playing with them. I have learned how to be a team leader and have learned to trust my teammates.”
Herington just isn’t killing it on the court, she is also taking care of business in the classroom. Academics are extremely important. She knows that playing basketball is great, but colleges look for more than just being able to put the ball in the hoop.
Coaches are looking for the all-around player. Someone who can take care of the academic side, while helping the team win on the court.
“My grades are so important to me. I have always wanted to be top of my class and go to a college that is not just good at basketball, but has a great academic program,” stated Herington. “So, for that being my goal, I make sure I am doing everything I can to keep my grades high.”
While she is pulling the strings on the court, Herington is also doing the same thing off it. The guard just isn’t a great basketball player, but she plays the violin. You could say that Herington is a “Band-kid, Nerd and Jock” all in one, and that’s ok.
Herington is showing everyone that it’s just not about hoops 24/7. Basketball is her number one priority, but having all hobbies is just as important.
“I have always wanted to play the violin and have been since I was 5 years old. Not too long after I figured out I wanted to also play basketball. So, I made sure basketball, violin and school were the things I was best at,” stated Herington. “It is always nice coming home after a hard practice and being able to play my violin to get my mind off of things. I want to be able to show people that you can be multitalented and well-rounded. I am a “nerd, “Band-kid,’ athlete, all in one and I take pride in that. But of course, basketball will always be my number one hobby.”
Having other hobbies also allows Herington to get away from the court. After a long day of school, than practice, it’s nice to be able to come home and do something else besides think about basketball all the time.
“Having other hobbies has made me more relaxed on the court by making me more mentally stable,” stated Herington. “Being a student-athlete most of the time all you think about is training and keeping up with homework, and that can cause lots of stress. So, me being able to play my instruments and read has made me be able to release all of my stress.”