HUDSON — Renee Olstead once said, “Taking away from someone else will never make you better.”
Pardon Chelsea Huffman’s opponents for calling the American actress and singer’s bluff.
When it comes to the multitalented senior guard, the piercing echoes have been obliterating eardrums throughout Northeast Ohio.
They have been quite deafening for the last four years, as a matter of fact.
“She must be stopped,” those hard-boiled voices callously snipe.
Huffman, on the other hand, has taken such malicious gossip in stride. She knows full well that her privacy will be extremely limited whenever she makes her way to the court.
She also knows this: The more attention you give her, the more likely you’re going to be putty in her hands.
“It’s kind of like a distraction,” the soft-spoken Huffman said with a tiny drop of cunning.
And how has the wise-beyond-her-years’ teenager handled a certain terse and to some degree, cruel message from her adversaries, particularly her frenemies from the Suburban League National Conference?
Forgive Huffman if feigned indifference is her initial reaction.
Look at it this way: Are people still drinking New Coke or installing Windows Vista on their desktops?
Thanks to Huffman’s abundance of skills, the Cuyahoga Falls girls basketball team has continued its recent run of success with another banner season.
The Black Tigers earned their 13th win for the second consecutive winter after taking down their once former nemesis, Hudson, by a 51-41 score. The National Conference showdown took place Wednesday evening at Hudson High School’s Ray “Buck” Hyser Gymnasium.
Much like the rest of the opposition that doesn’t care for black and gold colors, the Explorers had an obsession for neutralizing the gifted teenager everywhere she went. And like everyone else, that obsession was practically pathological.
How did it go?
If you consider the single most salient statistic in a late 19th-century sport that originated with a rather modest peach basket, the answer is this: quite well.
Huffman finished with a modest seven points as relentless gangs of navy blue and white jerseys pinned her against an abundance of imaginary walls.
Thus, Hudson, which Huffman and Co. have conquered five times in the last six meetings between the two longtime rivals, cracked a just about impossible code that resembled the CIA’s Kryptos, right?
If you say so.
Huffman smashed the Explorers’ exhaustive attempts to thwart her by nailing her role as a supporting actress.
In other words, think Angelica Huston’s pale, jet-black-haired Maerose Prizzi instead of Judy Garland’s compassionate and courageous Dorothy Gale.
“I think she understands every single time we play what needs to happen for us to do well as a group,” Falls head coach Joe Nowak said of his star playmaker. “It’s a challenge, though, because of the amount of pressure on the floor that she faces on a consistent basis.”
Her modest point total certainly justified that excessive amount of pressure. Or did it?
Huffman grabbed six rebounds and whenever a group of inveterate thieves tried to rob her of her prized possession, she simply tossed it to one of her pals.
When that mutual exchange took place, that’s when the sirens could be heard. And in no time, a group of Hudson players found themselves unexpectedly “handcuffed.”
“Points don’t really matter to me that much,” Huffman said. “I feel good getting other people points, as well. I feel like the points will come.”
They sure did.
On this night, though, Huffman, who recently eclipsed the school record for most career points, let her dribbling boon companions devour the finest cuisine from the lavish royal feast.
Consequently, Fourth’s Street’s unflappable alpha female gladly dined on the residual leftovers.
“We know teams will focus on Chelsea and try to take away the number of things that she does so well,” Nowak said. “I think, at the same time, she moved the ball very well [Wednesday]. She got others very much involved.”
The “others” included her high-scoring partner in crime and a precocious first-year varsity standout who has the makings of becoming a Chelsea Huffman clone down the road.
Senior guard Raygan Corrigall, who sent the Explorers packing with a rainbow 3-point conversion during the final seconds of a Division I sectional contest last season, finished with a team-high 14 points.
Freshman guard Mackenzie Kramer, who played more like a ferocious full-grown lioness rather than a feeble newborn fawn, also scored 14 points for the rapidly developing Black Tigers.
These two highly skilled young ladies have become household names in a city known for its waterfalls that run along the southern boundary of the city.
Nevertheless, their stories can’t be written without their celebrated author, who has morphed into Falls’ version of Jane Austen.
And like the 19th-century English novelist, Huffman has quite a fondness for her favorite character.
In other words, Kramer would likely be Elizabeth Bennet in Huffman’s soon to be thought-provoking book.
Perhaps Pride and Prejudice, Volume II, sounds appropriate, huh?
“We were very excited for Kenzie,” Huffman said. “As a freshman being our leading scorer, it was a good achievement for her.”
Nowak certainly agrees. For him, New York Times bestselling author Simone Ekeles may have the best way to describe his determined but not nearly as hard-headed Scarlett O’Hara.
“The threat of taking something away makes us appreciate it more.”
Nowak surely does. There’s an utmost sense of urgency too.
Just like a dark-haired, green-eyed Georgia belle who persevered through the hardships of the Civil War Reconstruction, the playing days of Nowak’s once-in-a-generation superstar will soon be “Gone with the Wind.”
“I think she continues to look to score when opportunities are there,” Nowak said. “At the same time, I think there is that trust with the other four people on the floor.
“When you have Raygan and Mackenzie off the bench knocking down shots, that just opens things up not only for Chelsea, but for everybody else. It’s this collective mentality that we need to have to hopefully do well.”
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.