Senior class aims to fill leadership void for Lawrence High girls basketball
The Lawrence High senior class had seen enough.
Ella Stewart, who will be one of five seniors for the LHS girls basketball team, gathered the squad for a huddle near midcourt. Stewart delivered a message about having the right attitude during the final day of the summer team camp in May at Billy Mills Middle School.
It was a sign of how the Lions are going to handle losing five players from last year’s team due to graduation.
“What I like about our culture is the kids are the ones that are the protectors of that,” LHS head coach Jeff Dickson said. “When our kids are coaching other kids, that is when everyone starts looking as them as leaders.”
For the last four years, Hannah Stewart has run the show as the team’s starting point guard and Chisom Ajekwu has been a force in the paint. The Lions will also have to replace Leslie Ostronic, Sammy Williams and Evann Seratte.
“It is nerve-racking, but I think we can do it,” senior Lexi Dutcher said. “We just have to be strong.”
While Lawrence will certainly have to replace a lot of production from last year’s team, it will be even more crucial filling that leadership void for the 2019-20 campaign. The five-person senior class of Stewart, Sophie DeWitt, Paiden Bell, Tracy Allen and Dutcher believe it will take a collective effort to do so.
“As long as we stay together and don’t break apart, and keep being leaders, it will wear off on all of them,” DeWitt said. “We will just be a better team and more of a family together.”
DeWitt has the most varsity experience of the seniors, though both Stewart and Bell have logged minutes at the highest level for the Lions. Still, the cohesiveness of this senior class is evident already and that’s a credit to their history.
Bell, DeWitt and Allen have been playing for Lawrence High since their freshman year. When Stewart and Dutcher joined the junior varsity team during their sophomore season, the chemistry started to form.
“I transferred here my sophomore year, and right away Sophie and Lexi became my closest friends,” Stewart said. “I feel like it has always been tight-knit. We do several sports together, and we are just so close. That’s really good for leading, because it brings people together.”
That is what gives the Lions confidence heading into this season, even though they have to replace a lot of talent from last year’s team that went 12-10 and was ultimately eliminated by Derby in the sub-state championship game.
LHS has netted four winning seasons in a row, notching four consecutive trips to the sub-state championship game. Prior to that, Lawrence had not posted a winning record since 2008. The five-player senior class has no intention of letting those streaks end this year either.
“Somebody has to step up,” Allen said. “It is not one person’s job to be the energy. We all need to bring that, because it will make us better.”