Noah Engelman has embraced a supporting role during his prep career after he was a co-star with classmate Kael Combs on their undefeated junior-high teams.
Engelman wasn't always under the radar drawing charges and chasing after loose balls and rebounds. He also wasn't always defending opposing centers taller than him.
Standing 6-foot-1 in junior high, he was almost the same height he is now. He towered over most of his teammates and opponents and thus was a go-to guy.
"In junior high, I was taller than everyone else besides Kael," Engelman said. "Me and Kael would both average about 20 points a game. I would be able to lay it up over everyone else. I would just make layup after layup. I miss that a little bit."
Engelman long ago checked in his ego and has been willing and able to do whatever is necessary to help Nixa win.
"Playing with these guys is so much fun," he said. "I don't really care if I don't score. I'm just glad to get the 'W.'"
Engelman has drawn 12 charges, is averaging 6.8 rebounds a game and shooting 67 percent from the field.
"I try to do the little things right like taking charges, offensive rebounds, battling down low and scoring when I can," he said. "That's how I earned my starting position last year because we had so much talent and so many scorers. I got my playing time by doing the little stuff."
Engelman's scoring has picked up a bit this season, but mostly he's setting his teammates up for success.
They've taken notice of his work.
"Noah does a lot," guard Garrett Hines said. "He’s a great team player. He doesn’t score the most, but does every little thing you can imagine. We need him."
"I've said for four years he does so many things that don't show up in a box score," coach Brock Blansit said. "Loose balls, charges, whatever we need, he'll do. He's definitely the 'glue guy' for us. It's not that Noah can't score. He just knows right now we've got other guys shooting the ball well and he's finding the open man."
At 6-3, Engelman doesn't fit the prototype of a center. He's a makeshift center and the only post player seeing regular playing time for Nixa.
The Eagles held their own in the paint and on the boards en route to their 15-0 start.
Next week, the Eagles will meet Kickapoo (10-5), which features two of SWMO's most improved players in point guard Trae Oetting and center Harrison Doennig, along with hotshot swingman Brayden Shorter.
The Eagles will be confident having Engelman defend the 6-7 Doennig.
"Most nights Noah is playing against someone quite a bit bigger than him," Blansit said. "But he sure doesn't back down. He plays his tail off. I love that kid."
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