Up to Batt: New Ulm junior takes her game to another level
NEW ULM — After several years of playing a complementary role to one of the best scorers in the area, New Ulm junior Joey Batt knew that someone had to step up and replace Meleah Reinhart’s 28 points per game from last year.
Reinhart was the program’s all-time leading scorer and last year she teamed with Batt to help lead the Eagles to a 23-6 record and an appearance in the Section 2AAA championship, where they eventually lost to Waseca for the right to go to the state tournament.
So Batt, who averaged 15.6 ppg a year ago, took it upon herself to be the team’s scoring leader. So far, she hasn’t disappointed in that role.
Batt is averaging 30.3 points priorr to Friday’s game at Martin County West and has helped the Eagles to a 6-2 start. Her scoring average is among the top three in the state (records haven’t been updated as of Saturday afternoon), according to the website mngirlsbasketballhub.com.
“Obviously we don’t have Meleah anymore and we had to step up scoring,” she said. “We were missing 28 points per game so we knew we were going to have to change how we play and move the ball around a lot.”
As the team’s point guard, Batt averaged 4.8 assists and 3.8 steals along with 4.7 rebounds last year. This season, her resume has seen a dramatic increase in the scoring category and that role was tough to get used to at first because she’s always thought of herself as a pass-first guard.
“It was a big adjustment but I had my dad there to help me and he told me that I was going to have to step up big and he knew that I was going to have to become more of a scorer this year,” she said.
Her dad, first-year coach Brian Batt, coached her in her youth basketball playing days and her summer teams since she started playing organized basketball. He said that her role changed along with several others on the team after Reinhart graduated.
“Joey is still our point guard, but she is also our main shooting guard, too,” coach Batt said. “Last year she was more of a traditional point guard with a pass first mentality. Losing Meleah has forced her to look for her shot more frequently. “
Batt has always been able to set up others for big shots because of her ability to drive the lane and dish off. Now she finds herself taking that shot and the results are showing.
“In the past the team looked to girls like Meleah to hit the big shots in crunch time,” coach Batt said. “Now that role has fallen to Joey. Every coach has a player or two that they want to have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line. Being a point guard, it is a natural progression for Joey to have the ball during big spots in a game.”
While the opposing defenses have focused on Batt’s scoring, they still have to keep an eye on the others on the floor. Hannah Osborne is second on the team in scoring with 10.4 ppg and Iyanna Wieland averages 8 ppg.
Batt is averaging 3.1 assists this year, down from 4.8 last year. She’s also averaging six steals and four rebounds per contest in 2017-18.
While she has a long time before she begins playing college ball, some college coaches potentially could be concerned that her assist numbers are down this year. Brian Batt doesn’t see any reason to be concerned because her all-around game has improved on so many levels and she’s still passing the ball well.
“Her assist numbers are down a little from last year, but she is still getting the ball to her teammates for open looks,” the coach said. “Right now the shots aren’t falling, but girls like Ellie Bute (junior) and Iyanna Wieland are really good shooters and they have been knocking them down in practice, so it is just a matter of time before they start doing the same in games.”
The father/daughter combo in the Batt household has worked well together for a long time and it’s still going strong.
“I love it, he treats me just like anyone else on the team, he’s more hard on me and he’ll yet at me but I just take it like any other coach I’ve had,” she said.
Brian said that they have had some battles but they appreciate what each other brings to the court every day.
“We can get on each others’ nerves from time to time,” Brian Batt said. “I sometimes get so caught up in pointing out what she can do better that I forget to praise her when she does something well. It does motivate her to work harder, but I don’t tell her enough how fortunate I am to have a point guard with her skills and abilities on my team.
“You don’t realize how important a good point guard is until you don’t have one,” he said. “Luckily I have a couple of good coaches in Dan Horsmon and Kati Erb who give Joey plenty of positive feedback and sort of balance out my critical tendencies. It’s hard being a coach’s kid, but someday I won’t be her coach any more, and I am going to miss her.”