Girls basketball: It's time for Attucks to seize its opportunity

Girls basketball: It's time for Attucks to seize its opportunity

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Girls basketball: It's time for Attucks to seize its opportunity

Basketball

Basketball

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Here’s how geysers work: Magma below the surface of the earth heats water that slowly pools up over time. Eventually, the water builds up and boils and turns into steam. When the pressure is great enough, an explosion happens. A geyser.

The Crispus Attucks girls basketball team has been slowly building, largely unnoticed, over the past few years. Now, it’s exploding.

The Tigers won seven of their first eight games, and have won nine of their last 10. The team’s three leading scorers are upperclassmen. The window to be this good is closing soon.

“It’s now,” first-year Attucks coach Reggen Melson said. “I would be lying to say something different. You have to capitalize on opportunities you have now.”

The Tigers won 21 games two years ago and 17 games last season, but got knocked out in the sectional both years. But the pieces were there. Now, they’ve developed. Mikia Keith scores 16 points per game. She scored 10.5 last year. Senior Shay Harper scores 14 after scoring six last year. Senior Chyna McMichael scores 11 after scoring 10 last year.

“They understand that we need them to be successful,” Melson said. “They put in the work to improve their games. Mikia and Shay have a scorer’s mentality. They do what they need to do for that to happen.”

Melson acknowledges that, when she took over Attucks after spending two years at Scecina, she took over a program “ready-made for success.” Still, she wanted the Tigers to set goals. Not big ones — of course they wanted to win titles — but little ones. Outrebound opponents. Play good defense. Avenge last season’s losses.

The results are showing. They avenged losses to Covenant Christian, Bishop Chatard and Tindley. They’ve held opponents below their scoring average in four of their last six wins.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” she said. “It’s all coming near the end.”

The team’s most important regular-season game wasn’t a win, but a two-point loss to Cathedral in the City tournament. That showed the Tigers that they could compete with teams above their level.

“There was a sense of, ‘We can do this. We can go far,’” Keith said. “That was the first time that everybody picked up their part and we came together.”

Other than a 7-point loss to Pendleton Heights, the Tigers haven’t lost since. Keith admits the Tigers feel slighted. They didn’t make an appearance in the state polls all season. She said they often get overlooked. That pressure under the surface? It’s building.

“We take that to heart,” Keith said. “We use it as motivation to play harder. Every time we step on the floor, we have something to prove to everybody. It bugs us.”

The Tigers (19-5) will face Northview (19-7) Saturday morning in Class 3A regional action. If they win, they’ll face the winner of Danville and Lebanon.

Attucks athletic director Joshua Varno says that “for the last 34 years, our season has ended too soon.” They checked that box with their first sectional title since 1983 this past weekend.

Their season isn’t done yet. But they aren’t content with just living to play another week.

“You want to be successful there. You don’t want to just say you showed up,” Melson said. “I’m always trying to push you. This is where you are, now let’s push beyond that. Let’s go a little bit further.”

The Attucks geyser is exploding. Maybe with a few more wins, people will actually see it.

Follow IndyStar reporter Matthew VanTryon on Twitter: @MVanTryon.

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