After an 0-25 record last season and only six returning players, it is hard to find people that will believe in your program. But due to outstanding play by some key freshmen early on, the Ravens find themselves boasting a 4-3 record. They are also one win away from matching their win total from the
last two seasons combined.
The Ravens have been able to rely on a few freshmen phenoms early on this season. Point guard Lexi Dellinger, who has already received HCAC Player of the Week honors, has been sensational, averaging 16.6 points and 3.6 assists per game. She has also started every game and leads the team in minutes played, logging 32.7 minutes per game.
“Lexi is such a unique player at this level as a scoring point guard,” said head coach Lindsay Shade. “She is highly skilled, has an outstanding work ethic and is a quick learner. Lexi broke the record for most points scored in a career at South Adams High School. I think she balances scoring and facilitating our offense incredibly well. Lexi plays with poise that is uncommon for a freshman point guard. She is a competitor with a high basketball IQ and has obviously already had a big impact on our program.”
The offense seems to be flowing much better this year with the ball in Dellinger’s hands. Teams have been unable to successfully trap players in the backcourt and force turnovers, something that plagued the Ravens last season.
“We have had success running the offense because we all work together
to do what’s best for the team,” said Dellinger, who declined to take individual credit for the team’s success. “Having so many freshmen on our team has been a disadvantage to us because we are young and still learning. I try to be vocal and be a leader in any way possible. We still make too many mistakes.”
The team also has had strong contribution off the bench from freshman Payton Moore. She has not started once through seven games, but is second on the team in scoring and is the leading rebounder, posting 13.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. She also is the team’s leader in steals and blocked shots.
“If you have seen Payton play, you know she is extremely athletic, coordinated and talented,” said Shade. “She provides a big spark off the bench and instantly impacts both ends of the floor. She only started playing basketball in the eighth grade because her coach saw what she could be. Despite the late start to the sport, Payton graduated Tri High School as the program’s third leading scorer and broke the career rebounding record.”
Moore has found a lot of success coming off of the bench in relief of sophomore Hannah Hawkins, the team’s leading scorer last year. The tandem of bigs have been able to control the paint offensively while protecting the rim defensively. Together they average 22.9 points, 15 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game.
“The transition for me has been different but good,” said Moore. “Coming from a small school, I wasn’t used to good competition, so getting used to the speed and the athleticism of some teams has been the biggest challenge. By coming off the bench, I am able to provide energy for the team. I can get a good feel for what the other team is doing and what I need to do offensively and defensively.”
Both standout freshmen have seen a lot of early success, while deservedly posting the most minutes on the team. Shade has found a good balance of young and veteran players, having six freshmen and five upperclassmen in the normal rotation.
“It has been such a luxury to so many players who are able to contribute in a variety of ways,” said Shade. “Our depth has had the greatest impact on the competitiveness of practice, but it has also impacted our ability to play faster offensively. We can play fast and still defend the way we want to because we have so many players who are ready to step in and contribute when their number is called.”
The team’s mix of depth, talent and athleticism
indicate that the early success on the schedule is no fluke. The Lady Ravens are a good team this season and are very fun to watch. If they can stay healthier than they did a year ago, this is a team that has all the tools to make a run in the conference tournament. Their focus will remain on their next game, hosting Franklin tonight in OC Lewis Gymnasium
tipping off at 7:30.