Ashley Dressler has big shoes to fill.
Size 13 to be exact.
Her father, Mark Dressler, played for Missouri from 1978 to 1983.
Ashley Dressler, a freshman at Rock Bridge, has emerged as one of the Bruin’s inside threats. Her deft shooting touch, above-average ballhandling skills and six-foot frame challenge opposing defenses.
“There is not a better post player out there than Ashley Dressler,” Bruins coach Bob Plourde said. “She’s going to be the real deal by the time she gets out of here.”
The fourth-seeded Bruins play fifth-seeded Sedalia in the first round of the Class 5 District 10 tournament at 6 tonight at Helias.
“Sedalia is just in our way and we want to shove them out of the way,” Dressler said. “You can’t underestimate them though because it is districts and they might want revenge.”
In their most recent meeting, Rock Bridge beat Sedalia 50-46 on Feb. 9.
If history repeats itself, the game should go well for Rock Bridge (5-18), which has beaten Sedalia (9-14) in the first round of the district tournament the past three years.
“It’s going to be a good game, maybe not the prettiest one, but I guarantee you it will be close,” Plourde said.
Although this will be Dressler’s first foray into the district tournament, she has a season’s worth of experience to draw on.
She has averaged 6.5 points and 3.4 rebounds. Her numbers could have been higher, though.
“She is making so many freshman mistakes, but you can live with those,” Plourde said. “She needs to make quicker decisions out there and feel the flow of the game, but that just comes with experience.”
Her tutoring began early. She picked up a basketball when she was 3 and her dad taught her to dribble. That was only the beginning.
“My dad has basically taught me everything I know,” she said. “He has taught me the entire sport. Not only the physical part but also the mental part.”
Dressler began playing competitively in kindergarten in the Columbia Pee Wee basketball league. From there, she progressed to the Columbia Youth Basketball Association until seventh grade when she played for Smithton Middle School. Last year, she played for West Junior High.
Although Mark Dressler said he is pleased his daughter has excelled in basketball, he realizes her desire to play can only come from one source.
“You’d like for your kids to play in your footsteps,” he said. “I made (basketball) available to her and she has run with it. If she didn’t want to play tomorrow, I’d be a little disappointed, but I would still accept her decision to do that.”
Although basketball has normally come easily for her, this season has presented new challenges.
“The season started out a little bit rougher because I didn’t know what was going on,” Ashley Dressler said. “It was tougher because the game was a lot faster and I committed a lot of turnovers.”
Although the transition to high school basketball was difficult, she has used her age as motivation.
“At first, (my teammates) thought ‘Oh great, another freshman,’” Dressler said. “I wanted to show them I could play so I worked my butt off and tried to basically beat everybody in practice and finally I got a little respect at the end.”Although Dressler turned 15 two months ago, her basketball skills and knowledge belie her age. Her talent can be attributed, in part, to the skills her father learned during his tenure with the Tigers.
Mark Dressler, who sat out one year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, started 22 games in 1983 and averaged 6.3 points and 3.6 rebounds. His 55 percent career field-goal percentage is fifth in school history.
“(Former MU coach Norm) Stewart was very much the type of coach I needed,” Mark Dressler said. “He was somebody that was very demanding, get after you and ask for your loyalty, but on the same hand was very much your friend too.”
Despite his successes, Mark Dressler doesn’t want his daughter to measure herself by them.
Dressler said she wants to play major college basketball, progress to the WNBA and eventually the NBA. Her younger brother is the only person who thinks she’s shooting too high.
“My brother tells me I can’t be in the NBA because I’m a girl, but I tell him that I’ll keep going,” she said. “I don’t see myself in any other profession than basketball.”