TERRE HAUTE —
There are some things, Kyle Stewart realizes, that he can’t change.
“Everybody wishes they could be 6-foot [tall],” the West Vigo senior guard said earlier this week, shortly after noting “everybody wishes they could be undefeated” when talking about his Vikings.
But even though his team doesn’t have an unblemished record, it has a pretty good 7-4 mark — a record that might not be quite as impressive without Stewart, even though he isn’t quite 6-0. And Stewart does a lot more than wishing when it comes to that West Vigo success.
“He’s a super-competitive kid,” coach Joe Boehler said this week when talking about his leading scorer. “He shows up to win every single night. He tries to do whatever he can to help the team — steals, rebounds, hitting the open guy, hitting a big shot.”
Even though he claims, “I’m trying to get healthy right now” after injuring some ligaments in his right hand during Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic competition (fortunately he’s a lefty), Stewart demonstrated what his coach was talking about last weekend.
He had a team-high 18 points, including some of the game’s most important free throws, as West Vigo came from behind to overtake Riverton Parke on Friday. A night later, Stewart had 22 of his career-high 26 points in the second half as the Vikings again erased an early deficit, this one at Greencastle.
Although both he and his twin brother Kevin — a West Vigo wrestler during the winter — might be better known for their baseball abilities, Kyle is pretty good at his “second” sport too. For the current basketball season, he’s averaging 15.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game.
Asked if he’s been surprised by either his team’s success or his own statistics so far, Stewart answered that he’d had no expectations.
“Coach Boehler said [at the beginning of the year] we could have a mediocre year, we could have a real good year, or we could have a two-win year,” he said.
As for his own production?
“I don’t have any career goals, I guess,” he added. “I shoot it when I’m open, I pass the ball when somebody else has a better shot … do what the team needs to win.”
What was important to Stewart last weekend, in fact, was the win at Greencastle. That made West Vigo 4-0 against potential sectional opponents, and that’s the statistic he considers to be important.
“The coaches try to stress that we get serious about what we’re doing,” he explained. “In practice, we run our plays as hard as we can. We’re not going through the motions: when we have a walk-through, it’s actually a practice too.
“We’re on track to be where we want to be. Our goal is winning the sectional, [and to do that] just get better during the season.”
Boehler knows he never has to question Stewarts efforts along those lines.
“He’s a big role model for the younger kids for how hard he plays,” the coach said.
The 5-7 dynamo is a role model for the shorter players too, Boehler indicated.
“He never uses [lack of size] as any kind of crutch,” Boehler said. “He believes he can compete with anybody, and the other guys feed off his competitiveness.”
Just trying to help, Stewart repeated again.
“We’re not all blessed to be tall,” he said with a smile. “We’re just trying to be a team — completely, all around.”