Girls basketball team's potential on display at first summer scrimmages
With five of the eight members of the last season’s LCHS girls basketball team graduating, the Lady Indians showcased a lineup of young talent when they began their summer schedule last week.
Senior Madison Echols and juniors Isabel Davenport and Makenzie Caldwell were the only familiar faces on the court from last season’s team that tied the school’s single-season wins record with 17 when the Lady Indians took to the court for an afternoon of scrimmage games versus Banks and White counties at the Longhouse at LCHS on Friday, June 7.
Alongside the three returning Lady Indians were a group of talented rising freshmen in Mary Mullinax, Lexi Pierce and Kate Jackson who were all a part of an undefeated season for the LCMS eighth grade girls basketball team which earned them the North Georgia Mountain League Girls Basketball Championship trophy.
Also playing with the team during the scrimmages was middle school standout Averie Jones. Jones, who also played on the undefeated LCMS Lady Indians team last season, is a rising eighth grader.
LCHS head coach David Dowse, beginning his third season with the team, is excited about what the future could hold for the team when the younger players begin to adjust to the increases speed of play at the high school level.
“They’ve all bought in to what were trying to do here and they are all very talented,” said Dowse. “They just need to get used to the speed of the game at this level. That’ll come with experience.”
Davenport, who should step up to fill the role of team leader this coming season, flashed signs of the strong play that made her one of the better point guards in Region 7-AAA last season during the scrimmages with the Lady Leopards and the Lady Warriors. Davenport communicated the plays well, showed solid court vision, made nice, crisp passes and nailed jumpers when her team needed her to, displaying her ability to be the Lady Indians’ court general.
Caldwell displayed her energy, defensive prowess and fast break finishing ability during the games. Possessing an amazing vertical jump, Caldwell looked strong rebounding and more than once altered the shot of those she guarded during the day. Caldwell also showed off her ability to turn a nice defensive play into easy baskets through the transition game.
As for the younger players on the squad, Mullinax, Pierce and Jackson each contributed in ways that looked promising for the future success of the team.
Mullinax appeared fairly comfortable with the switch to high school basketball. The rising freshman showed off her shooting ability, a tenacious attitude on the defensive side of the ball, solid passing skills and strong off-the-ball movement as the Lady Indians ran the offensive plays in Dowse’s playbook.
Pierce also looked good on the court for the Lady Indians and made the most of her time on the court. Pierce showed off her range and her jump shot with several made three-point shots. The rising freshman also displayed energy on the defensive end and worked well with her teammates in executing plays.
Jackson admitted that the speed of the game was a lot faster than the middle school level, but proved herself to be a huge asset for the Lady Indians on the boards and in the low post. Jackson’s size and length allowed her to get herself in position to pull down rebounds and get put backs. The rising freshman looked particularly strong when she was teamed up with Echols in the low post on defense. The two collapsed the lane for both Banks and White counties and made it difficult to get an uncontested shot when on the court together during the scrimmage games.
“It’s a lot faster and the girls are bigger too,” said Jackson. “Plus, now we have to learn and run offensive plays which isn’t something we’ve done much of in the past.”
Despite showing signs of being at times outmatched, fatigued and a bit confused, the growing pains for this particular group of talented Lady Indians should be relatively painless as long as each of them continue to develop and improve their individual games along with making sure they play the role assigned to them within the team’s dynamic.
“There’s a lot of hard work and a long way to go,” Dowse said. “But, I think that these girls have a chance to be real contenders by their sophomore season. So, if teams are going to get us, they better do it now because it’ll get far more difficult the following year when these girls are sophomores and Davenport and Caldwell are seniors.”
That sophomore season for Mullinax, Pierce and Jackson that Dowse spoke of will also usher in the beginning of Jones’ high school career.
Jones proved herself worthy of playing at the high school level during her time on the court with the Lady Indians during the scrimmages. Despite being outsized for the most part, Jones kept pace with even the seniors on the Lady Leopards and the Lady Warriors during each game she played in on the day. Jones showed off a knack for being able to cause turnovers with her tenacious defense, start fast break opportunities and knock down shots while on the floor for Lumpkin.
Even White County assistant coach and former LCHS girls basketball and Piedmont College standout Dakota Sullens was murmuring on the sidelines about Jones’ talent as the young phenom gave glimpses of just how special her skills are. Sullens was shocked to learn that Jones was a rising eighth grader.
“I can’t believe it,” said Sullens. “She was giving us fits out there and she’s only an eighth grader. She looks like she’s ready to play high school basketball now.”
With the Lady Indians’ summer schedule just beginning, there is still plenty of time for the young players to adjust to the high school level and for the older players to adjust to their new teammates in order to be competitive during the 2019-2020 season.
The Lady Indians will travel to John’s Creek High School today, June 12, for scrimmages versus John’s Creek and North Forsyth. The scrimmages will start at 4:30 p.m. and run until 7 p.m.