Nefeli Papadakis is demonstrating her quick hands for Warren's girls basketball team.
Her ability to knock the ball out of an opponent's hands came in, well, handy, several times for the Blue Devils on Friday morning as Warren topped Wheeling 45-28 in the Niles North Thanksgiving girls basketball tournament.
Jordyn Hughes led the Blue Devils (3-1) with 15 points and 5 steals, and Kaylen Dickson had 10 points.
Papadakis returned to the team this year after trying to make the recent summer Olympic Games. She's a national champion in Judo, and that skill set translates to her ability to defend in basketball.
"I'm used to reading body language," said Papadakis, who has been training in martial arts since she was 4. "It's like wrestling, where you read a tip or twitch of the body. That's what I read off it, maybe more than other people. So it's easy for me to read where the ball is going."
Wheeling (2-3) got off to a quick start and led 11-6 with 5:18 left. But then Papadakis stepped up with a consecutive steals, helping spark a 10-4 run to put the Blue Devils up 16-15 after the first quarter.
"She really is the heart and soul to our team," said Warren coach John Stanczykiewicz. "She's a quiet leader. The girls trust her and learn from her."
Warren's defense took over in the second quarter, as more pressure took its toll on Wheeling. The Blue Devils took advantage with an 18-6 clip as Asha Lake scored on short jumper before the half to put Warren in front 34-21.
"I liked the team that showed up, we had good energy," Stanczykiewicz said. "Wheeling came at us early in the game to wake us up, reminding us that were playing against a good, well-coached basketball team. We got our bearings, and once we got into the flow of the game in the second quarter I thought we did well and our pressure created some turnovers for us. I thought we took advantage of those possessions in that quarter."
Warren built the lead to 21 points difference by the end of the third quarter.
Wheeling was led by Melissa Claver with 10 points.
"We came out with good energy," Wheeling coach Matt Weber said. "We were attacking the basket and helping each other out on offense. Then we got into a little bit of a rut. (Warren) put a little bit of pressure on us and we didn't respond well to the pressure. Give credit to Warren. They came out with a lot of energy and kept putting a lot of pressure on us. They did a great job of defending. We just have to come out with a better basketball IQ and keep working hard."