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Natalie Sottile chases after the ball. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE TIMES-TRIBUNE

Natalie Sottile had spent the first three years of her girls basketball career at Riverside with one of the best views in the gym, one of them being able to watch teammate Lizzy Spindler compile a massive number of points to end up second on the Lady Vikes’ career scoring list.

But Sottile did more than just watch Spindler score from nearly every foot possible in the offensive end for Riverside. Sottile did more than just view the game as a fan with a great seat, but also as a way to watch what and figure out why Riverside’s opponents did what they did.

“Natalie’s strength is on the defensive end of the floor,” Riverside girls basketball coach Jack Mekilo said in a email. “She is one of the best help defenders we have had in my ten years with the program.

“Her ability to be in the right place defensively is a testament to her intelligence as a basketball player along with her tenacity.”

Another quality that Mekilo loves about the senior is that she is a team player who does not worry about whether she scores a lot or not.

“To be a playmaker without being a scorer is a rarity and not many players, boys or girls, can do it,” Mekilo said. “Natalie has been very good at getting us into our offense and setting up her teammates with great shots.”

“Those things may not show up in the box score but we know how important she is to our program.”

Sottile saw not only the layups made and those missed, but also what had set them down.

Quite often, he saw how many times the same people showed up seemingly ready to play.

“There are a lot more ways to make a play other than just making a shot, and her ability to get the ball to the right person in our offense has been a huge plus for us this year,” Mekilo said. “She’s has the ability to take over a game without scoring a point.

“We have a very balanced offense this season and she’s processing a lot of things on the court to make it work”

She seems to listen well, and more importantly, seems to have the ability to rise to the occasion more often than not. That’s a quality that coaches everywhere would want on their roster.

“Natalie has improved her play every day since she came in as a freshman. She’s a product of not only our player development, but her work ethic,’’ Mekilo said. “She’s always been all about winning and she puts her team first. When we played Scranton early in the year she was the shortest player on the court yet we had her watching a six-foot post player. All she did that night was go out and grab nine rebounds against the biggest team in the area. That’s Natalie Sottile.”

Sottile is following in the footsteps of many Lady Vikes as she travels toward the end of her last season at Riverside.

“The thing about Natalie is she’s a natural leader and she’s had the benefit of being around our program for a long time and growing up with a lot of the great captains that came before her here,” Mekilo said. “She’s part of that original lineage that goes back to (current Lady Vikes assistant) Jess Segilia.”