New Lakeview girls basketball coach Mike Imes said if you drive through Cottonwood in the summer, you'll see Melissa Streich in her driveway shooting hoops.
"She works her butt off," Imes said. "She'll be out there shooting hoops in the falls and it'll be 35, 40 degrees outside."
In no small part to her work on the pavement, Streich, a 5-foot-7 junior for the Lakers, has been a force for Lakeview, which is 2-2 this season after falling to MACCRAY on Friday.
"I spent a lot of time (in the driveway), ever since fifth grade, playing ball," Streich said. "During the summer, go out for a couple hours, shoot shots, free throws, and just work on the fundamentals."
Through three games this season, Streich has averaged 13.7 points per game, including a two-game stretch where she scored 20 points in wins over Renville County West and Edgerton. In the 55-36 win over RCW on Dec. 7, Streich finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Imes said the Lakers were looking for Streich to make a jump in her play after averaging 11.4 points per game last season. This year, Lakeview is without Dana Boerboom, its leading scorer from last year. Without players like Boerboom and Kayla Golberg, Streich didn't know how she'd fare.
"I was pretty nervous in the beginning," she said. "I didn't think I would be able to function without the older girls' leadership. But we've been coming together a lot better than a lot of people thought."
A jump shooter last season, Imes said Streich has improved her ability to get to the hoop. Aiding that new-found ability is Streich's free-throw shooting. Last season, Streich was second in the area in free throw percentage, making 74.5 percent of her shots from the line.
"Our first game against Fulda, she struggled to get into the flow. But now, it's like she's been possessed to get to the hoop," Imes said. "She was more of a 12-15 foot range shooter last year, and we got her all over now. She's comfortable driving to the hoop."
Last season, the Lakers struggled out of the gate, losing five of its first six games en route to a 6-18 season. Streich said this year's squad has been more focused, helping Lakeview to its improved start.
"We've been so much more focused before games and during practice," Streich said. "We're constantly doing something. It's just completely different. We just want it so much more."
Streich said the team knew what to expect out of Imes, who was the B-squad coach last season. Being around since Streich's freshman season, Imes has seen Streich, one of the team captains, come forth as a leader on the court.
"She's being more of a vocal leader," Imes said. "When things aren't going well, she'll step up and tell the team, 'You got to do it this way.' She leads by example.
"This year, she's been one of our focal points, she's very versatile and knows the game quite well."
Streich put her time in this summer on the driveway, in the weight room and at summer basketball camps. And as the Lakers enter the Camden Conference portion of their schedule, Streich is hoping her efforts can help Lakeview to the top of the Camden North.
"We're really excited to start playing in the Camden Conference," Streich said. "We want to win the conference this year."