By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Being around sports for most of her life, Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels Head Coach Shari Armour can identify an athlete.
And the second-year leader of the Lady Rebel program has loaded her 2012-13 roster with them. After beating the Bishop Byrne Lady Red Knights 53-27 last Tuesday in the TRA Gymnasium, it’s even becoming clear to Armour’s players how to define an athlete.
“Being athletic can bring so many things like being able to run up and down the floor while being quick,” TRA point guard Bethany Berger noted. “You can cut and see the floor. You can read the floor and see things other people can’t see. All of us really have it. When we all put it together it really helps the whole team offensively and defensively.”
Berger transferred to TRA from Missouri with a reputation for being a good volleyball, softball and basketball player. After playing a key role in the Lady Rebel Volleyball season, Berger is trying to live up to the hype on the hardwood.
Against Byrne the sophomore guard got off to a hot start scoring 10 points in the first quarter helping the Lady Rebels jump out to a 15-10 lead.
“That’s one of our main goals to come out strong,” Berger said. “That’s so important. We have to be ready to play defense and put points on the board by taking as many shots as we can.”
The Lady Red Knights had an athletic small forward on their side in Alexandria Henderson taking shots. The senior scored a few buckets in the first half keeping her team in the game.
Henderson scored a put-back basket in the first quarter that made the score 11-10. The Lady Rebel went on to outscore Byrne 13-2 the rest of the half.
Henderson had the sole basket for Byrne in that span. For TRA Berger made a steal near halfcourt and raced down the court for a layup.
Moments later Berger got into the passing act locating teammate Bayleigh Nale for layup that made the score 21-12.
Berger added a couple of free throws and her teammate Sara Hall made a layup at the buzzer that made the scoreboard read 25-12 at the break.
“We worked on a lot of pressuring and getting after the ball,” Armour said. “Tonight I was very impressed with their defensive stragetry for pressing then falling back on defense and packing the middle.
“Having athletes this year is going to be a stepping stone for us toward the future because we’re able to do more,” she added.
The Lady Rebels could do even more in the third quarter with Henderson on the bench the entire period with foul trouble.
TRA built a sizeable advantage outscoring Byrne 15-5 in the third quarter. Players like Virginia Moore, Alexa Crum, Ally Nafeih, Brooke Bridges and Hannah Quinn all scored in quarter.
And the combination of Berger to Nale made the score 40-15. The Lady Rebels nursed their 40-17 lead after three quarters into a 53-27 victory.
The winning margin could have been larger if TRA made more foul shots. Armour said her players will work on that phase of the game.
“Tomorrow we’re going to do nothing but shooting,” she said. “Thursday probably be shooting too, to get ready for Saturday. We’ve just got to get back in the gym. And they have to realize they have to do that on their own, not just coming to practice.”
Berger said the Lady Rebels will continue to keep working on all phases of the game to keep getting better.
“I feel like I add leadership and aggression,” she noted. “We’re learning to help each other out and we’re teaching each other to attack the basket while working together. Together we’re going to become a successful team.”
Armour said the success of a 4-2 start is starting to spread into her team’s athletic playing style to its mental outlook.
“They’re all very excited and pumped now,” she concluded. “They know how to win and how to work hard. It’s just going to lead to the next stepping stone, the next level.”