Simply Stel-lar

Sophomore Alex Stelfox runs a drill during practice

Eric Coulter

Sophomore Alex Stelfox runs a drill during practice

Derek Wolff

The reigning GLIAC Freshman of the Year had no intentions of going through a sophomore slump.

In 23 games this season, Grand Valley State University women’s basketball center Alex Stelfox has scored 15 points or more in all but seven competitions. The 16 games in which she’s scored 15 or more has put her second on the team in points-per-game with a 14.8 average. In addition to Stelfox’s offense, the 6-foot-2-inch sophomore leads the team with 25 blocks and pulls down an average 4.8 rebounds per game, good for third on the team.

Over the last month or so, Stelfox and sophomore teammate Briauna Taylor, the Lakers’ leading scorer, have carried the offense in almost every game.

“I’m just enjoying playing a lot right now. It’s a lot of fun,” Stelfox said. “It’s great playing with Briauna (Taylor). She’s a very talented player. I give her a lot of risky passes, but I’m never worried about it because I know she can catch any of them. I really hope we can keep up what we’re doing.”

Stelfox has led the team in scoring 11 times this season, and her 14.8-per-game has her in eighth place among all GLIAC scorers, two slots behind teammate Briauna Taylor (15.5 ppg).

When she is not dominating players in the low post, Stelfox has found other ways to contribute on the offensive side of the ball.

“Alex is probably one of the best post-passing players in the (GLIAC) conference,” head coach Janel Burgess said. “I think she’ll continue to open up the outside game a little more, but she’s playing to her strengths right now. I think her teammates will continue to make her as good as she is, and she’ll continue to progress day by day.”

With all of her success at GVSU, it is hard to believe that Stelfox’s early standout career as a Laker almost never happened.

After originally committing to Ohio University, a transcript problem in a math requirement after she changed high schools left Stelfox facing the reality that she was ineligible for Division I play.

Weighing her options, the Bowie, Md. native decided to take the 11-hour trip from home to check out GVSU. Doubtful at first, her father convinced her to give the school a try, and when she arrived on campus, she was pleasantly surprised with what she found.

“I came here to visit, and I ended up loving everything about it,” she said. “The coaches were great, and I really felt like I could get along well with my teammates.”

Since that point, GVSU’s women’s basketball program has greatly benefited from Stelfox’s decision. Having her around has been a lot of fun for her roommate, senior captain Elizabeth Van Tiflin, too.

“Part of our theme this year is family,” Van Tiflin said. “Alex is an outgoing, fun person who makes us laugh when we’re together. It’s nice to have someone relaxed like that, and when things are tense or we’re just joking around, she’s just someone fun to be around.”

Burgess agreed that Stelfox’s attitude and demeanor has benefited the program just as much as her presence off the court.

“Alex is a fun-loving kid who enjoys life,” she said. “I think she enjoys the atmosphere of college, enjoys being around people and makes everyone around her happy. The people around her are enjoying life with her.”

Stelfox said her commitment and work ethic over the summer helped improve the game that made her the GLIAC’s most coveted freshman during the 2009-10 season.

“I just knew that I want to improve every year and get better every year,” she said. “I worked out half of my summer here, then went home to work with my old coaches, and they’ve been trying to get me to improve my stats and help me become even more of a physical player.”

For Van Tiflin, who shares equal amounts of time living with Stelfox and guarding her during practice, it is not always easy covering one of the best post players in the conference, even if it is not in a game.

“With a player like Alex, she’s very hard to defend,” Van Tiflin said. “She stays in her mindset and stays in the play and doesn’t let mistakes or bad plays bother her. She’s continued to work hard this year and focus on the weaknesses she had. I feel confident giving her the ball down low because she’s a smart player, hustles, is aggressive and doesn’t give up.”

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