Girard’s Standohar plays bigger than he stands

GIRARD – According to the physics of basketball, Evan Standohar has no business spending time near the hoop.

Players that are 5-foot-9 are best suited for a guard position near the perimeter. An occasional drive to the basket might produce a field goal or a rebound by a lucky bounce.

So why is it that Standohar, a senior for the Girard Indians, is averaging nearly 11 rebounds a game for a second straight season? There has to be more to it than leaping ability, which in Standohar’s case won’t produce any slam dunks.

What the measurements listed in game programs don’t include is the size of a player’s heart. In that listing, Standohar measures up quite well.

“A lot of pride,” Standohar replied when asked how he’s able to pull down so many missed shots. “It takes a lot of energy and determination. I take it as a motivational thing because a lot of times I’m going up against a kid that’s 6-2. That’s a challenge, and I like challenges.

“I have a God-given ability to react and be in the right spot, so I can get there quicker. I take advantage of that.”

Standohar is the poster child for the Indians, who take an 18-3 record into a Division III sectional game Friday against the Liberty Leopards. Small and scrappy have replaced tall and long as the operative words. There are no college recruiters lining up outside the office of Indians coach Craig Hannon asking about Standohar.

Hannon, in his second season at Girard, values Standohar’s work near the basket. Once Hannon realized he had a special rebounder on the roster, he moved Standohar from the guard spot he played as a freshman and sophomore to a forward last season.

“He’s incredibly valuable because of how undersized we are,” Hannon said. “He cleans up and makes a lot of that stuff for us just by going to the ball. He plays 32 (minutes) a night. We wouldn’t be where we’re at without Evan.”

It’s not just Hannon or anyone close to the Girard program that is impressed by Standohar’s rebounding prowess. He’s been able to impress opponents, including LaBrae Vikings star Peyton Aldridge. At 6-8 and headed to Division I Davidson College on a scholarship, Aldridge knows a thing or two about rebounding.

“Peyton Aldridge guarded me (last year) and he applauded me,” Standohar said. “He said, ‘You’re a heck of a fighter. You will out-determine them.’ Getting a compliment from a kid like that who is going to play Division I basketball is great. That motivates me and makes me outwork kids to get the ball.”

The move from guard to forward last season has had one slight drawback, which is that Standohar doesn’t look to score as much. The Indians have other players capable of handling the perimeter game, namely the sharp-shooting Dylan O’Hara and Standohar’s cousin Jimmy, which allows Evan to concentrate on the muscle work.

That doesn’t mean Hannon wouldn’t like to see Evan add a bit to his scoring average of 12 points.

“We’re looking for Evan to score more than he is,” Hannon said. “Getting more shots and open looks. He’s averaging a double-double, and you don’t see that much in high school basketball.”

When it comes to scoring, it’s about making the most of opportunities that come Evan’s way.

“When I have looks I’m pretty efficient,” Evan said. “The last game against Hubbard I took three shots and scored 11 points. I had two 3s and five free throws. When my chances are there, I have to knock them down.”

More than anything, Evan needs to continue doing what he does best, which is grabbing rebounds away from taller opponents. It’s a dirty job that someone has to do.

“It does get frustrating,” Evan said. “You have to stay positive because we’re a small team. I have to go out there and fight and scrap.”

Evan plans to attend Youngstown State University. As a key part of the Girard golf team that won the last four All-American Conference titles, he hopes to land a spot on YSU’s team.

Considering Evan’s aggressive nature on the basketball court, he probably prefers going for greens instead of laying up.