disappointing loss in the first round of the 1999 sectionals against
Duneland Conference foe Chesterton has made these Vikings more
determined than ever to make their mark in the 2000 state tournament,
and Sampsel will be leading the way.
Known throughout the region as a cool head on the floor, area
coaches know better than to overlook Sampsel's valuable skills.
The trouble is finding the right defender to stifle her playmaking
With a 5'11 frame, Sampsel sees the floor well when guarded by
smaller defenders out front. She makes them pay every time by
changing up the combination of a low-post bullet to teammates Courtney
Rosenbaum and Lee Traynham, or finding the seam to take it in for the
penetration and dish. She's a threat from anywhere on the court,
so if you pack the zone down low to protect the post, she'll burn you
from the arc with her trademark 3-point floater. With her size,
she can even post up with the taller defenders when flashing the paint
to totally throw any defensive one-on-one strategy out the
The senior's floor intelligence, the intangible that can't be
fully quantified by any type of measurable statistic, keeps the
defense guessing every time. Sampsel just has it. She
knows exactly what will work and when, depending on what she sees and
"feels" on the floor. She makes the Valparaiso offense
click, and her absence from the floor absolutely takes the wind out of
the Viking ship sails. So, just like last season, don't expect
to see Valpo's No. 23 getting many opportunities to catch her breath
during a game.
Looking ahead, Sampsel's assist average may suffer this season, as
she will be expected to take on an expanded scoring role for the Lady
Vikes. But who is to say
that she can't raise her averages in both categories? Valpo
posted over 56 ppg on offense throughout the 1998-99 campaign, and
balanced scoring from Sampsel, Rosenbaum and Traynham could push the
Vikes over that average this season. Only time will tell.
Sampsel is looking forward to her senior year, and remembers fondly
the memories she has tucked away from her basketball experiences at
Valpo. Of special importance are her memories of going to the
Lafayette Jeff Semi-State in 1997, when she experienced a virtual
baptism by fire as a sophomore. She entered a close game when
the Valpo point guard regulars both ended up in foul trouble. Coming
of age in front of a packed house, Sampsel performed admirably for her
team under pressure, even though the Vikings did not advance to the
state finals. When asked what she will miss most about high
school basketball, she responds, "The close friends I've made the
last couple of years."
Sampsel is undecided as to college choice at this date, but knows
she wants to be in elementary education. She credits Valparaiso
assistant coach, Kathy Levandoski ("Mrs. Lev") as having the
greatest impact on her life as a student athlete because "she's
there for me all year round."
Sampsel is preparing mentally and physically for the upcoming
season, and after last season's devastating loss in the sectionals,
believes that her team can take absolutely nothing for granted.
Individual goals for Sampsel this year include repeating with Duneland
Athletic All-Conference honors and being named to the Warsaw
All-Tournament Team during the holidays. Both are very real
possibilities for Sampsel in her last high school outing.
After all, it will be hard to overlook this "MVP-to-be"
1-26-99 Update: Sampsel has verbally committed to St.
Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana.
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