Lakeside High girls basketball coach Lisa Schultz didn’t have to search hard for an explanation of why her Eagles currently lead the Northeast A League.
The reason was a four-game span in which Linsey Heebink went wild.
Heebink is averaging 8.3 points per game for the season, but during the four-game period she scored at a 13-point clip.
Included were double figures games when the Eagles took apart then-unbeatens Newport and Colfax on successive nights two weekends ago.
“She hit three 3-point baskets in the four games for us,” said Schultz. “She really had by far her best performances in three years.”
What impressed Schultz even more was how quickly Heebink has adjusted to playing the perimeter this year after previously being an inside player.
“She changed her game style,” said Schultz. “For a high school kid to do that in just one summer is really amazing.”
The Eagles were coming off a third-place finish in the State A tournament and figured to be among the NEA’s elite.
But they had graduated two outside shooters, most notably Lora Jolley, and needed a replacement to complement a wealth of inside experience.
Brianne Jolley leads the team with a 19.0 average. Jessica Hatch, a 6-footer, has provided additional strength and 5-10 Nikki Petticrew adds 10 points per game from her wing.
“Coach mentioned to me I’d have to play guard in the coming-up years,” said Heebink, who made varsity last season as a sophomore. “I worked on my outside shot a lot because I knew if I developed that I would get more playing time.”
She scored 13 and 15 points respectively when Lakeside beat Newport 59-44 and Colfax 51-49 two weeks ago.’ “We hadn’t won forever in Colfax,” said Schultz. “It’s tough to play there, the crowds are so good. It was a good win.”
Last year Heebink was merely thrilled to be on the team and experience the state tournament.
“It was new for me and real exciting,” she said.
This year she’s been asked to play a bigger role. For Heebink it’s been almost dream-like. Though Schultz tells her to shoot more, she said, she feels like she’s shooting “tons” already.
“It used to be where I wouldn’t shoot at all, maybe two or three times a game,” said Heebink. “Now sometimes I feel I’m shooting too much and have to live up to it. I kind of like it.”
Schultz pointed to a non-league victory over Lake City of Coeur d’Alene, then Idaho’s No. 1 team, as the turning point to the season. It was a game in which Heebink scored 13 points.
“It made us believe we were ready,” Schultz said.
Currently, the Eagles are 7-0 in league and 12-1 overall and have their two most formidable foes behind them - at least for now.
There are still games remaining against both teams in league and Lakeside will likely face at least one of them again in the district tournament, from which one team qualifies to state.
Schultz wasn’t worried that these early wins will create pressure for the team later on.
“There are two ways to look at it,” said Schultz. “By winning we became confident in ourselves.”
Besides, she and Heebink agreed that the Eagles have yet to peak.
We know we have a lot of room to improve,” said Heebink. “It’s not like they were our best games played. We know we can play better.”
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