A star runner, soccer player and basketball player for Trinity Christian Academy, junior Brynne Lytle is not exactly surprising anyone these days with her accomplishments.
But when she broke the girls’ basketball team’s all-time scoring record Nov. 19, she was about the last person in the gym to know. A couple late points against Crockett County put the point guard past the 1,053 points Ashley Thompson finished with in 2004, and an announcement was made to the crowd.
Lytle was oblivious to all of it.
“After the game [TCA head coach Matt Coble] was like ‘Congratulations, Brynne, you broke the scoring record,'” Lytle said Tuesday. “I was like, WHAT?!”
More important now, though, is the immediate future of Trinity basketball and how Lytle and her teammates can positively influence it.
The Lady Lions (5-3), ranked 12th in the Sun’s Dirty Dozen, should get an idea of their position when they open District 15-A play at 6 p.m. Friday against defending Class A state champion Middleton. The Lady Tigers, ranked second in the Dirty Dozen, haven’t lost this season or last.
Able to score with both jump shots and drives to the basket, Lytle is TCA’s best weapon. But the other Lady Lions must play well for the team to be a district and region title contender, just as they had to play well for Lytle to become such a scoring threat.
“I might have scored the points, but that doesn’t mean I got the record by myself. My teammates make me awesome passes, they set screens, they do all of these things,” Lytle said. “And I might get the points, but they might have made the play to get it there. So that’s what’s most special to me, that my teammates trust me to score the ball.”
Trinity has no seniors, so a junior class of four who have played together since seventh grade has the opportunity to shape TCA’s identity. Joining Lytle in the group are Ansley Ross, Tiffany Turner and Hannah Bratton.
Ross encourages teammates deliberately and is “a good friend to everyone,” Lytle explains. Turner can stay positive when others are concerned or discouraged. Lytle trusts Bratton, whom she views as smart academically and athletically, to make the right decisions for the team.
“We’ve kind of been thrust into the role of the captains and who all the younger girls are looking up to this year,” Lytle said. “So we’ve been challenging each other to incorporate the attributes of a true leader in our game and off the court, in the locker room and in the classroom.”
In big moments, Lytle is the leader. Two days after breaking the record, she scored 42 points in a 68-60 overtime win over West Carroll.
And though Lytle is a multi-sport athlete, basketball is a year-round endeavor for her. She wants to improve her 3-point shooting and get better driving to the basket from the left, and she regularly works on her skills at the school or church gyms and at home.
She has played travel ball since third grade and currently plays on the Nashville Select team with locals like USJ’s Anna Jones and Chester County’s Paige Pipkin, a UT Martin commit. At 5-feet-6-inches, Lytle lacks those girls’ height but is not afraid to challenge defenders near the basket and gets a lot of her points that way.
“I know I’m small now but I used to be, like, really, really small. So I couldn’t really go in there with the big girls,” Lytle said. “But I’ve gotten to where I can finish the basket and get a foul, and I think developing that element of my game has gotten me to where I am.”
District 15-A produced two of Class A’s eight state girls’ tournament participants last year in Middleton and Riverside. (Middleton eliminated TCA last year in the region semifinals.)
Middleton lost top guard Averyale Joy, now at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Riverside lost most of its core players, including Freed-Hardeman’s Bree Linton.
“I think this year’s district is probably anyone’s game,” Lytle said.
Trinity doesn’t have the girls’ basketball history of some of its district rivals or other local neighbors. The Lady Lions take pride in their previous work and seek more reason to believe in themselves.
“I don’t think at the beginning of the season we were as confident,” Lytle said. “But as we look at all the stuff we’ve accomplished so far compared to seasons past, I think it’s really helped everyone’s mindset to believe that, Hey, just because we’re Trinity doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish some of the things the bigger-name schools do.”
Lytle can’t remember what kind of shot she hit to break the scoring record. Her focus isn’t on that, anyway, but instead on helping this year’s team make serious postseason advancement and improve the reputation of TCA girls’ basketball.
That would be something to remember.
Craig Thomas, 425-9634