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Makayla Everette, a 6-foot-4 senior, considers the Beddingfield High varsity girls basketball team promsing freshman quartet the “missing piece” she has discovered her senior year.
Everette and the freshmen — Daneesha Briggs, Breanna Sutton, Regi Pender and Shyma Dove, desribed by head coach Debra Pegram as a fierce competitor — combined for 40 points to trigger the Lady Bruins of the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference to a 48-32 conquest of host archrival Fike on Friday night.
Beddingfield boosted its record to 3-1, while the Lady Golden Demons, without leading scorer and senior playmaker Brikayla Whitaker (concussion protocal), tumbled to 2-3.
“It’s easy but it gets hard,” Everette said of meshing with the four newcomers. “They’re coming from middle school and the commpetiton is a lot different. It’s a big transition, but they are starting to grow up and learn.”
Everette is especially excited about how well she and Briggs, who starts at point guard, complement one another.
“We have played travel ball together for a while,” Everette explained, “and (Briggs) has been coming to Beddingfield since the fourth grade. Her basketball IQ is amazing to be only 14.”
Fike head coach Jeff Nelson credited Briggs for providing the decisive spark for Beddingfield. He also revealed Whitaker will miss at least two Fike games next week.
“It’s tough enough to try to stop Makayla,” Nelson commented, “but they needed somebody else to help her and (Briggs) stepped up.”
Everette, more involved in handling the ball and playmaking, dropped in a game-high 19 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and blocked a half-dozen shots. Briggs wound up with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
The Lady Bruins dominated the last three quarters after Fike of the 3-A Big East Conference emerged with a 11-10 first-quarter lead behind a trio of 3-pointers from junior Kendall Harris.
“You’ve got to know where she’s at,” Pegram reasoned of Beddingfield’s defense against Harris. “We were playing kind of lazy and gave them a false sense of security. Fike, with its back against the wall, played great and showed a lot of grit. We didn’t always match their intensity. Fike was in the game the whole time.”
But Harris was limited to a mere free throw the last three quarters and, without Whitaker, Fike struggled to establish an offense inside the perimeter.
“Starting out, we were doing fine,” Nelson noted. “Kendall was hitting 3’s. But the girls have to learn to make plays. Brikayla has done so much for them, and they’re not used to trying to do stuff.”
Fike was down 22-15 at halftime and trailed only 22-17 when the Lady Bruins pulled away on a field goal each in succession from Everette, Briggs and Pender. The biggest lead was 48-29 on Sutton’s bucket with 10 seconds left.
Harris’ 10 points led Fike, while senior Regina Barber netted eight. Avery Lentz, a 5-10 freshman in her varsity debut, paced the Lady Demons with six rebounds.
Pegram is enjoying the assistance Everette is receiving from Briggs and the other three freshmen. Everette contends the spark and energy the first-year players are providing is resulting in the other returning players stepping up.
“It’s better, but it can be a whole lot better,” Pegram said of the overall environment. “The freshmen are pesky enough to give (Everette) some minutes (of rest).”
“I really like that,” Everette responded with a huge smile.
Continued Pegram: “I hope the freshmen will stay around for four years. If they do, I’ll sleep a lot better.”
Anderson 2, Sutton 2, Pender 2, Dove 4, Sherrod 5, Briggs 13, Best, Thompson 1, Everette 19, Shade, Hinnant.
Anderson, Graziani 4, Curlings 4, Barber 8, Harris 10, Artis 2, Lamm, S. Anderson 2, Owens-Wright, Lentz 2.
Score by quarters:
Beddingfield 10 12 10 16 — 48
Fike 11 4 7 10 — 32