The Transylvania Times -

2017 Basketball Preview: Young Players Bring Promise To Lady Blue Devils Basketball

 

November 30, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

The 2017 Brevard High School girls' basketball team.

The youth are the future – at least when it comes to Lady Blue Devils basketball.

The Brevard girls' basketball team is easily one of the youngest in the area, fielding just four upperclassmen – including one senior – on a 12-player roster.

However, the cupboard is far from bare and Brevard is 3-1, with one of their best starts to the season in many years.

In talking about his young team, Brevard head coach Chad Owenby said along with their talent, the group's camaraderie as friends makes for even greater chemistry on the court.

"This group is very tight-knit," Owenby said. "You would see this group hanging out together during lunch, after school, on weekends and that makes a big difference in how they play on the floor. They're very unselfish. Our points have been spread around fairly even through four games."

The Lady Blue Devils have only four players that saw a lot of minutes last season – a trio of sophomores including Brooklyn Rising, Tristen Berry and Hannah Cabe – and the team's lone senior, Taylor Sales.

Berry is Brevard's standout point guard, having finished second on the team last year in points, steals and rebounds.

She's already on pace to continue those numbers as she's averaging 12.3 points and three steals per game this year.

Cabe is leading the team in rebounds this year and is second in points with nearly 10 per game, but Owenby said he's been particularly impressed with her defense.

Both Sales and Rising are also averaging more than six points per game and have 20 rebounds each so far this year.

Those four are the only ones who entered the season with a lot of varsity experience, but they're joined by a fresh group of talented newcomers that are already making an impact.

Among the youngest players on the team are Cassidee Cali and Emma Berry – sister of Tristen.

Emma serves as a nice complement to her sister's scoring ability as she's taken on the role of facilitating the offense, leading the team with 19 assists, and serving as a lockdown defender.

"Emma has made a huge difference for us. She's not scoring a lot of points, but she makes up for it on the defensive end and she's putting up five or six assists a game," Owenby said.

The roster also includes a talented group of sophomores including Michelle Lopez and Raegan Eggleston.

Both have shown a good shooting streak and Owenby praised Lopez' ability to get to the basket, as she's averaging just shy of seven points per game this year.

So far this season, the Lady Blue Devils' success has come through their defensive play.

They have 57 steals as a team and have won the turnover battle in all but one game this year.

Whether it's their full-court pressure or solid effort in the half-court game, Owenby said creating turnovers and turning those into points were the keys for his team his year.

"Defense is going to keep us in games this year. Size-wise, we're not going to match up well with everybody, but we can get up and down the floor very well and we're going to run," he said.

Another advantage Owenby points out is the collective basketball experience and knowledge among such a young group.

"This group is very basektball savvy. They play all the time and that's huge. To be as young as they are, that says a good bit about their knowledge and where they are. They still have tons to learn, but it puts a smile on my face to come to practice every day with this group," he said.

Last season, Brevard started 4-2 and weathered a rollercoaster year before dropping their final four games to finish 9-16.

The Lady Blue Devils will be part of the new Mountain Six Conference this year, as they finished seventh in the eight-team WNC Athletic Conference last year.

Brevard will be facing the same slew of conference foes, with the addition of Hendersonville.

Owenby said he expects some of the same teams that finished atop the standings last year to be front-runners again this season, but believes his team has what it takes to get into the mix.

"I honestly see Smoky Mountain up toward the top. They won it last year and brought back a great group. Franklin is going to be good. Pisgah is going to be good. Then you've got us, East Henderson and Hendersonville. I honestly think we can compete against most of those teams. The key for us will be limiting turnovers and making shots," he said.

Part of what gives Owenby confidence isn't just the talent potential or the play he's seen on the court so far, it's the work ethic of his team and their desire get better each and every day.

"We're very young, but we've got a competitive nature. These girls want to learn, they want to play and they're a gutsy group. A lot of things are starting to move in our direction and that's because they're so hard-working. They're in the gym all the time and that's a good problem to have as a coach," Owenby said.

 
 

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