Statistics are sometimes misleading, or at least they don’t tell the whole story when it comes to describing the value that LaRue County High School’s senior basketball players have been to their team.
Take Lady Hawks’ Shana Zajdel, for example.
“Shana’s stats aren’t going to tell you what she has meant to our basketball team over the last four to five years,” said Lady Hawks’ coach Travis Wootton. “She has been one of the best defensive players in the region during this time.”
Zajdel, a 5-6 senior guard, will complete her varsity career with more than 200 steals, placing her among the top five Lady Hawks cagers of all time.
“She has been a complete team player from day one,” Wootton said. “She has really improved her ball handling over the last two years.”
Since she was in middle school, Zajdel has been the one called upon to defend against the opposing team’s best player. With a combination of speed, quickness and self-discipline, she deploys her defensive skills, especially on man-to-man, which she said the coach prefers to use.
“I try to keep low and avoid bumping into someone when I attempt the steal and not get too far out of the passing lanes,” she said. “Working through the screen and keeping on our man is what we try to do.”
Concentrating on the defensive effort means fewer points scored but it also opens up the opportunity to assist the hitters, this year being sophomore wing Ivy Brown, sophomore forward Alley Evans and freshman guard Alexis Brewer.
“I try to get them as many good looks as possible, and if I see they’re not open, then I’ll drive to the basket,” she said.
This is the first varsity season Zajdel, who can play point as well as number two guard, has competed without injury. Her freshman and sophomore years, a disc problem in her back hampered her. Last year, she was off the court two months due to a head injury.
Nancy Howell and Michelle Seymour, junior guards on last year’s team, both missed this season, but have been an integral part of the Lady Hawks squad throughout their high school careers.
Howell, a 5-8 guard, suffered a partially torn meniscus for which she underwent surgery in November.
“She was coming off a great season as a junior and we were counting on her to be the leader on and off the floor this season,” said Wootton. “We are keeping up hope that she might get to return this season.”
In the interim, Howell has taken the role of official stat keeper.
According to her coach, Howell’s role on the team changed over her career.
“Her first two seasons she was probably our third option on offense,” he said. “As our team got better, she became more of a hustle player and a three-point shooter, hitting some of our biggest shots last season in some of our close games and had probably her best game in the region tourney against Washington County.”
Howell has scored 551 points in her career.
Seymour faced some personal challenges that prevented her from playing this season.
“Michelle was a very smart player that played with a lot of heart,” said Wootton. “She will be honored on senior night as well, for she is still a part of our team,” he said.
Lady Hawks’ senior night is Feb. 10.