AURORA — The Aurora girls basketball team is blessed with one of the best players in the state.
When it comes to a certain gymnasium located on West Pioneer Trail, it’s Shyanne Sellers’ world first, last and always.
Therefore, anything the junior point guard does is likely to turn heads and draw quite a few oohs and ahhs.
Interestingly enough, Sellers isn’t the only player dressed in green and white who sticks out like a sore thumb.
Of course, one could argue that might not be particularly flattering.
Greenmen fans, meet Mika Dalton. This young lady happens to be a sophomore guard who might play more minutes than a certain 6-foot-2 superstar.
Dalton has proven to be able to shoot from distance rather effortlessly. She’s a dogged defender too and if you blink, she might steal a rebound away from you without a hint of remorse.
Oh, and she is usually the smallest player on the floor … by far.
If you’re glancing toward the stars, this tiny young lady won’t be in your line of sight. If you look closer toward the floor, on the other hand, you can’t miss her.
All 5 feet, 2 inches of her.
Don’t expect Aurora’s diminutive but dynamic playmaker to feel the least bit insecure about her modest height, though. Her attitude is quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.
Dalton’s response to the taller trees that dare to block her path through the woods?
Go ahead. She dares you. In fact, she double dares you.
“I’m obviously not the biggest person on the floor,” Dalton said. “It’s just kind of mental. Everyone has always told me to be confident in myself. I just go out there and tell myself, ‘I want it more than the other person.’ I just go as hard as I can.”
Thanks to Dalton’s unflappable faith to get the job done regardless of the circumstances, the Greenmen earned their sixth straight win after pummeling injury-riddled but still formidable Wadsworth 60-37 Wednesday in Aurora.
Dalton scored seven points, dished out a few assists, played her usual stellar defense and … wait for it … grabbed a couple of rebounds despite navigating around some skyscrapers.
How is this possible?
Erika Greenberg is just as stumped as everyone else. That’s OK with the veteran head coach, though. Logic isn’t always a factor when it comes to getting results.
“Mika is a really good on-ball defender,” Greenberg said. “For being as little as she is, she has a knack for finding the boards. She just reads the ball really well and gets to the right spot. She does a good job.”
Dalton, Sellers and the rest of their teammates may have been a bit uneasy about their showdown with the 2018-19 Suburban League National Conference champions.
Not only did they fear the Grizzlies’ powerful punch, there was another large piece of adversity that messed with the Aurora players’ minds.
They’re called mid-term exams.
“It’s a little more stressful than usual,” Dalton said. “Plus, this was supposed to be a pretty good game, so our heads were kind of everywhere, but I thought we did pretty well in staying calm.”
Aurora’s latest opponent certainly won’t argue with her.
Wadsworth, which was missing two key players because of knee injuries and also had another starter go down early in the second quarter, looked a bit overmatched against the three-time Suburban League American Conference champions.
The Greenmen took command early, thanks to their hot shooting and remained in control the rest of the way.
“It’s a pretty big win,” Dalton said. “We thought it was going to be a much closer game. Our defense has been a lot better than it has been. I thought we played really well as a team.”
Dalton and classmate Ava Ryncarz got their feet wet as key reserves on the varsity team last season.
Let’s just say they learned some valuable lessons.
Not only did Aurora dominate its conference rivals, it also reached the Division I regional competition for the first time in school history.
Both players have been starters since the season began last month. And don’t expect them to leave the floor too often.
As was the case Wednesday against the Grizzlies, both players handled the ball a bit more often than usual when the Greenmen’s version of Felicity Smoak discovered her mobility was unexpectedly restricted due to foul trouble.
“It’s hard to ask her to do everything,” Greenberg said of Sellers. “We ask her to score; we ask her to play defense. Sometimes it’s nice if she can not have the ball in her hands, so she can get a little bit of rest.”
Dalton has no problem with that. Give her the ball and she’ll be more than happy to run the show.
If not, she’ll gladly let Ryncarz be the quarterback or perhaps senior Dylynn Lasky.
Therefore, if a certain dynamo is unexpectedly subdued by kryptonite, Aurora expects to be just fine, thanks to a savvy sophomore whose view may be obstructed more than most humans.
Fortunately, that hasn’t been and most likely never will be a problem for Dalton. When it comes to outfoxing her much taller opponents, this infinitesimal teenager has a knack for sticking out like a sore thumb.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dalton said. “This is a really talented group of girls. It’s a little more pressure than it was in previous years, but I think Ava and I have done pretty well thus far, stepping up,. We’re trying our best to help out with the team.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.