Carson Gray is not among the statistical leaders for the Campbell County girls’ basketball team. But numbers don’t begin telling the whole story for the Camels’ lone senior.
“Not at all,” Campbell County coach Beau Menefee said. “She has filled the void of five seniors.”
At a cursory glance, the veteran guard’s per-game averages including 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds look insignificant compared to leading scorers Taylor Clos (14.8 ppg) and Taylor Jolly (13.9 ppg) and top rebounders Mackenzie Schwarber (6.3 rpg) and Kylie Kramer (4.3 rpg).
On a team full of efficient shooters, Gray’s 37.8-percent field-goal shooting lags far behind the leaders, eight of whom are over 50 percent. Her best number, 33.3-percent from 3-point range, ranks fourth behind Kramer’s team-leading 44.9.
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Gray is a little ticked off at her free-throw shooting, coming in at 52.9 percent. Last year, she shot 65 percent from the line while averaging 7.3 points per game.
“She doesn’t put up massive numbers,” Menefee said. “But she makes up for it with excellent leadership and all the little things that don’t show up in the stats.”
Gray may be dead last on the team in free-throw shooting, but she is by far the leader in leadership and level-headed decisions. She’s way up there too in encouragement and confidence-building, not to mention high expectations and hustle plays.
She’s also adept on defense. She can take a charge. And she knows when to turn down a bad shot and make the extra pass. Floor burns? Gray’s got ’em. District 37 knowledge? She’s got that, too. Unselfishness? She has it in spades.
The primary reason Gray is averaging fewer points is she’s heady enough to realize that many of her up-and-coming teammates have been hot all season long. Clos, one of five freshmen, has tripled her scoring average.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure, but I feel confident in the team,” Gray said.
Her favorite stat? The Camels lead the 10th Region in wins with a record of 18-9 after finishing 10-17 last season, with two coaches, for their first losing record in seven years. They missed the 10th Region tournament for the first time since 2010.
With Gray as their rudder, the Camels won their 10th game almost a month ago, and have increased scoring by seven points per game while holding opponents to nine points fewer than last season, for a 16-point swing toward the good.
Campbell County entered the week having won six of its past seven games and 10 of 13. The Camels are ranked sixth in the Enquirer Northern Kentucky coaches’ poll. The coach said it’s been an ensemble performance led by a star who shuns the spotlight. To the Camels’ only senior, there is no gray area — you’re either all for the team or you’re not. Gray is all for it.
“She’s like having a player-coach, more or less,” said Menefee, the Camels’ fourth head coach in five years. He admits to leaning hard on Gray’s maturity his first season. “She’s been here since the eighth grade. The leadership she’s shown has been impeccable, and that’s the one thing that we needed most from her.”