Grace Haley almost never got an opportunity to represent Lansing Christian on the basketball court this winter.
But that fear was erased for the junior guard/forward when the Pilgrims found enough people to field a girls basketball team.
“In the beginning it was kind of scary not knowing for sure if we were going to have a team, but eventually we got enough girls and it was such a relief and I was so excited,” Haley said. “We’re a very young team, but we have a lot of high energy and it’s just so good to have a group of girls that want to be there and want to play the game.”
Haley emerged as a leader on the court for that young team. And a good portion of that leadership was by example with her play on the court. She averaged 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds while helping the Pilgrims to eight wins in a schedule that included games primarily against bigger schools.
The 5-foot-8 Haley, who was voted the LSJ prep athlete of the week, had one of the best stretches of her three-year varsity career last week when she helped Lansing Christian split a pair of games. Haley averaged 21.0 points and 15.5 rebounds last week and hit the winning basket in a 48-47 GLAC victory over Stockbridge.
Lansing Christian coach Jason Salsbury said Haley’s contributions have been invaluable for his team.
“This year she’s just really filled a lot of roles,” Salsbury said. “She’ll play some point guard and she’ll do some work in the post positions for us. Her abilities allow us to be flexible. While we were learning the skills and the talents of the younger kids, Grace’s flexibility to pretty much move to five positions at this level allowed us to try to figure out where the best parts fit and where her teammates could fill roles around her.
“She has definitely had a willingness this year to try some different things. Her preferred spot is point guard, but there’s a sophomore on our team who is a good point guard. That pushed Grace off and she had to move more to the wing/power forward position. When we did that, her stats started to jump up and it put her in better rebounding position.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.