Wuertz retires in style, boasts confidence in career-topping senior year at Mehlville
March 09, 2005 - By STEPHEN GLOVER
For the Call
Everyone knows the story of The Little Engine That Could.
Mehlville Senior High's Alana Wuertz spent the past three seasons in an "I think I can" mode before stepping onto the basketball court for her final season and tell-ing herself, "I know I can."
Wuertz said confidence improved her 2.6 points-per-game average as a junior to a 7 points-per-game average this season.
"I really don't think that it was a working out thing as it was more of a confidence thing," Wuertz said. "It was more about the (state) of mind that I was in when I played."
Wuertz's confidence quickly caught the eye of head coach Ed Feibig, who knew he needed to pair Wuertz with the Panther starting five.
"I saw during tryouts that Alana was lighting it up and I thought that she's going to have to play all the time if she keeps shooting like that," Feibig told the Call. "I'm so superstitious that I actually was afraid to ask her what she did over the summer to make that type of an improvement."
Wuertz opened up the 2004-05 season with a bang, racking up 16 points and 10 rebounds in a 62-41 win against DuBourg in the South Side Classic. But her contribution in the final game of the season typified her style of play.
Wuertz struggled through the state sectional game against Nerinx Hall with flu-like symptoms but still battled for eight points, three rebounds, two assists and one steal in the 61-47 loss to the Markers.
"She just played her heart out in that game," Feibig said. "I knew that she was on her last legs, but she did a great job de-fensively."
The Panthers' floor captain also excels in the classroom with a 3.97 grade point average. Wuertz plans to attend Truman State University in the fall to study exercise and sports science.
"I have to have some kind of involvement in something that involves sports and competition because I'm a very competitive person," she said.
The oldest daughter of Gary and Trena Wuertz's two children also is a member of the National Honor Society, the Mehlville Senior High student council and the youth group at St. Lucas United Church of Christ.
She also plays soccer for the Panthers as a sweeper and center midfielder and hopes to play at Truman State next season.
One of Feibig's biggest challenges next season is finding a way to replace the im-pact Wuertz made on this season's team.
"We're going to have to find a way to replace her and that's going to be something that's tough to do," Feibig explained. "She's such a great kid that's always got a smile on her face and is just a hard-working player."