By RJ Townsend
Focus. Speed. Pass. Guard. Shoot. The words run through the minds of three freshmen as they play against older, more experienced players.
The Lady Eagles varsity basketball has a new group of starters. Griffyn Knight, Jillian Barr and Elizabeth Bamidele, all freshmen, have been working for this moment since they stepped foot on a basketball court in elementary school.
For Griffyn it’s been a goal since kindergarten. For Elizabeth, second grade. Jillian’s basketball career started when her fifth-grade teacher at Westview Elementary told her she would be good at it.
The girls have been playing together since sixth grade at Delta Middle School. The freshmen are assisting their new team already. Coming from a middle school undefeated record, they know they want to win.
“We can be unstoppable, and I would love the team to win county and sectionals,” Jillian Barr said.
The girls still have a lot to learn, but the older players are willing and happy to teach.
“I try to push the girls in practice every day, making sure they understand what’s happening,” junior Paizley Cool said. “There is a lot of stopping and correcting what’s going on, a lot from coaches and some from upperclassmen as well,”
The players have become close, which helps the team to play better. Senior Mackenna Bell said, “We’ve grown a lot as a team compared to last year.”
The girls are rebounding from the previous season. The varsity team is in the headspace to grow as a whole, throwing last year’s record of 3-19 behind. The girls have shown improvement earlier in the season and are continuing their path with a 4-8 record currently. The Eagles have not won more than five games in a season since 2018-19, but they seem ready to surpass that this season.
The varsity coach Andy Lewman has hope for the team’s future.
“We’re going to have a lot of the core people back next year, and I see that as an opportunity to kind of be setting us up for a couple of really competitive seasons, as long as we keep pushing to be better each day,” Coach Lewman said.
The team is balling out with their focus. They have been practicing all summer to get to the level they are at now.
Barr, a power forward, adds height with her being 5-foot-9, her non-stop power, and is an anchor for the team. Knight, who has been playing the longest, adds speed and knowledge of the game as a shooting guard and point guard. Bamidele plays the part of a shooting guard, point guard, and ultimate team player.
Barr, Knight and Bamidele all know they can work together to make the dream team come to life.
“Elizabeth always brings a positive attitude and always keeps us going even if we’re down and making mistakes during plays, she brings us all love,” Knight said.
“For Jillian, she brings a crazy hyped-up energy every single time she steps onto the court,” Bamidele said. “It always feels like you want her in the game, cause you know she can handle it and get to the rim. She does her best every time she can.”
‘’Elizabeth and Griffyn push me to be better, and when I see them excelling I want to be around them and play as a team,” Barr said.
The new Lady Eagles have a bright future in basketball. The team is set up to make a comeback in the presence of these freshmen. They hope that the impact they make on the team is a positive start.