Lawson leads B.B. Comer into Class 3A playoffs
by ERICH HILKERT
SYLACAUGA—Ask Valencia Lawson what the biggest game of the year was and she doesn’t cite a big win or a game where she scored a career-high.

No, the B.B. Comer sophomore thinks the team’s loss to Winterboro was the biggest game of the season.

“I’d say our biggest game was against Winterboro, because it pushed us more even though we didn’t win,” she said. “It made us feel like we could win. It mainly brought us together and pushed us, made us work harder.”

Lawson’s coach and teammates noticed an improvement in her throughout the season. She had a breakout season, leading B.B. Comer in scoring as she averages over 20 points per game at the point guard position. Comer head coach Robert Herring said she didn’t have much of a choice.

“She had to,” he said. “She’s a point guard. She’s like the quarterback of a football team. As good as she plays, that’s how we play. When she’s off, our whole team is off. She’s really come along this year, and she’s got two more years to get better. I’m sure she’s a scholarship-type girl in two years somewhere.”

Senior teammate Dominique Wood said Lawson had improved both as an overall player, but also with her attitude.

“She’s a better player by taking her time with shots,” Wood said. “She’s become a better player overall and better in her attitude. She’s improved a lot. She deals with her anger in a positive way because she would be like ‘No, I’m done,’ but now she’s the one talking about ‘Come on ladies, we’ve got to keep it up. It’s okay.’ She’s improved.”

Herring said her pure point guard attributes are where he’s noticed the biggest improvement.

“She’s got better just dribbling the ball as the year’s gone on,” Herring said. “At the beginning of the year, people would steal the ball from her or she would make careless passes, bad turnovers, and now she’s grown out of that and she’s not doing that. That’s why we started winning. That’s why we won against Coosa in that region game. She probably had her best game of the year against them, had 20-something points I’m sure. That’s one thing: as the season goes, you’ve got to get better and that’s one thing she’s done.”

By beating Central-Coosa, the team made the Area Tournament final, which qualified the team for Thursday sub-regional game against Midfield. They lost in the final to Trinity, a team they had lost to less than two weeks before by a mere point. Lawson said the one-point loss was one of the most disappointing games this season.

“We lost to Trinity, the same team that beat us in the area tournament,” Lawson said. “We lost by one. It was kind of hard because you were so intense, you’re ready, knowing you’re going to win, but we gave the ball away. But we could’ve won. We’ve just got to stay focused and make good passes.”

Despite being one of the best girls basketball players at Comer, she actually prefers track and has awards to back up her abilities.

“I run track,” she said. “That’s my favorite sport. I won last year at state for the 200. I came in first. I came in second in the 100 for 3A.”

Lawson hasn’t been at all surprised by the team’s success. Comer recently beat Central Coosa, a team that had beat Comer twice during the regular season. Even before the season began, she had confidence in her team.

“I kind of figured we would have a pretty good team,” she said. “I was looking forward to it.”

And she’s also looking forward to Thursday’s Class 3A Central Sub-Regional game. Lawson thinks Comer will need to make good passes, make good shots, have success in the post, make free throws and avoid foul trouble in order to beat a tough Midfield team.

“I try to keep them focused mainly,” Comer’s leader said. “Then, I just pass the ball to them, make them go in. I try to make them drive. I just keep them focused. That’s what I try to do.”

She’s already rubbed off on one of her senior teammates.

“That’s my point guard,” Wood said. “She’s my backbone and I’m her backbone as well. Without her, a lot of things wouldn’t happen and the same with me. So, we’ve learned a lot from each other, how to be better teammates, how to get through things together, and talk about things. I can say I’ve learned a lot from her.”
© 2013