GEORGETOWN — Cale Steinbaugh’s career high for points scored on a high school basketball court is 43.
A total he produced as a sophomore during a win against Chrisman in the 2019-2020 season.
One might assume opposing defenses would continue taking more defensive precautions when facing Steinbaugh, considering the Georgetown-Ridge Farm standout is capable of such efforts.
And they do.
It just doesn’t tend to matter.
As the now-senior proved during Tuesday night’s 70-55 triumph for the Buffaloes versus Watseka.
The 5-foot-9 guard dropped 40 points on the Warriors. He started with a modest five points in the first eight minutes but eventually racked up 14 made field goals while also finishing 6 of 6 at the free-throw line.
“I know most games I’m either going to be (facing) box-and-one or triangle-and-two (defense),” said Steinbaugh, who’s averaging about 26 points per game. “Watching film helps a tremendous amount — just knowing how to read the defense, where to cut ... how to get my teammates open. Film is the biggest component that has helped me be successful.”
G-RF (8-11) readily needs everything Steinbaugh can provide as well.
The Buffaloes opened the current campaign with four consecutive losses. Now, they’ve won four of their last six games ahead of Saturday’s 3:45 p.m. Vermilion County Tournament opener against Westville at Danville’s David S. Palmer Arena.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Steinbaugh said. “We’re all starting to play better, more as a team. Everybody’s playing their role.”
G-RF was given the tournament’s middle-of-the-pack No. 4 seed and also will have to contend with top-seeded Oakwood in pool play. Second-seeded Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin and third-seeded Salt Fork are among the teams in the field’s other pool.
“My mindset coming into (the season) was hopefully to win county and then compete at the top of (the Vermilion Valley Conference),” Steinbaugh said. “I fully think we’re capable of winning this tournament. That’s really the only goal for the tournament.”
Sophomore-year Steinbaugh did vie for the county tournament championship in 2020. The Buffaloes qualified for the title game, in which they lost to a powerhouse BHRA squad that went undefeated until the postseason’s super-sectional round.
What does Steinbaugh feel is different in his own game that could make an impact in this county showcase?
“The older I’ve gotten, the more I can slow the game down in my head and see everything unwinding,” Steinbaugh said. “In the offseason, I worked on a lot of shooting, getting better at my outside shooting so players would have to respect that, and it opens up the drive more.”
Salt Fork coach Andrew Johnson called Steinbaugh “a true triple-threat scorer” who can convert from close to the rim in addition to a mid-range and outside shot.
“He has the ability to change his pace quick enough with the coordination to still finish and make the right plays,” Johnson said. “You’d appreciate it a lot more if he was wearing your team’s colors, but he is a tremendous player and he does a lot for how Georgetown is successful.”
Steinbaugh hopes the same can be said of him as a baseball player at Heartland Community College beginning next school year. He’s following in the footsteps of older brother Conor, a 2017 G-RF graduate who used a stint at Lincoln Trail College to earn a spot on Akron’s baseball roster as a pitcher.
“The opportunity is a great fit for me, and I have a lot of things that are going to help me along with (guidance from) my older brother,” Cale Steinbaugh said. “I’d say I’m focused ... because this will be the last year I ever play basketball. I want to make the most of it and win the most we can.”