When observers check out the Fort Zumwalt East Lions, they don’t have to look far to see who has been the catalyst in the team’s early-season success.
Thanks in large part to the dominating presence of Liz Behan, Fort Zumwalt East has quickly become one of the top teams in the early part of the 2019-20 season.
Behan, a 6-foot-2 senior post player, heads into the upcoming holiday break averaging 17.3 points per game, and in the top 20 in the area in scoring. Her strong early play has allowed the Lions roar an impressive 5-2 start, good for second place in the GAC Central conference.
“I definitely [worked] really hard over the summer,” Behan said. “I know my team has too, so that really helps a lot.”
Zumwalt East coach Kyle Brown said that Behan puts a lot of “time and effort” into her game.
“I think she’s really getting what she rewarded for right now for just the times she’s put in the last spring into the summer and the fall,” Bown said. “Liz is somebody that really loves to play basketball.”
A major key to her early success on the floor this winter has been her efficient ball skills and taking advantage of scoring and defensive opportunities.
Brown also believes her enhanced efficiency has been the biggest improvement in her overall floor game.
“We talked before the season and one of the things she needed to work on was being efficient when she gets the ball, scoring and looking for opportunities running down the floor, offensive rebounds, and free throws,” Brown said. “I think that’s why her numbers are showing that.”
“I think my rebounding has improved a lot this year too, which helps on the offensive and defensive end,” Behan said.
Behan averages 61% in shots from the floor and averages about 13 rebounds per game.
“When she gets the ball, she’s taking advantage of the opportunities,” Brown said. “She’ll pick her spots [for shots] and she’s always active with offensive rebounding.”
Defense and controlling defensive rebounds are as big a part of Behan’s success as her scoring skills on the offensive end.
Heading into this weekend, she has 92 rebounds for the season with 58 of those coming off the defensive glass.
“I definitely don’t want the other team to get second [scoring] chances,” Behan said. “It’s one shot and done, push the ball and get down the floor.”
Behan is a self-proclaimed “basketball junkie.” Her love for the sport began when her father, Will, coached her with her church team at St. Joseph Catholic Church of Cottleville.
“I started playing for my church team and my dad was coaching us, and that was pretty fun,” Behan said. “He really started to get me into it, and then I tried out for our [Zumwalt East] feeder program and it just kind of expanded from there.”
College is definitely in the future for Behan. She’s received interest from St. Louis University, Kansas, Washington University, Missouri S&T and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She plans to major in aerospace engineering in college.
As her final season with the Lions rolls into the holiday break and into the New Year, Behan still has a couple of goals left to achieve.
One is breaking the 1,000 point career mark. She entered this weekend needing just 18 points to eclipse that mark.
“It’s really exciting and that [1,000 points] is definitely one of my goals and hopefully I will get that soon,” Behan said.
The second goal Behan wants to see realized is for the Lions to have their second straight winning season. Fort Zumwalt East was 17-9 last year after winning just 12 games in Behan’s first two seasons.
“I want us to having a winning season too,” Behan said. “That’s one of my goals too. Hopefully [we] can make it to the second or third round in districts. It would be really nice.”