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You’d think the Lady Rockets might show some trepidation heading into the postseason with an 11-14 record.
But they use phrases such as “fired up” and “smooth sailing" heading into this week's 30th District Tournament.
Confidence, especially among core players Dee Dee Davis, Marissa Raisor and Taylor Shaw, is in no short supply. And it’s not a naïve, wishful-thinking type of confidence.
It’s a confidence born by getting smacked down in big losses, like 81-44 by Manual, and close losses that felt really big, like by four points to Eastern. It’s a confidence born by keeping a broader perspective.
“We’ve had a really tough schedule, so there’s a lot of those games that we’ve had to put behind us,” Davis said. “There’s things you can learn from all of them, but mentally, you can’t get down on those games because in the end, those aren’t going to matter when you’re trying to get back to state.”
And, you know, that confidence starts to pay off. The Lady Rockets have won six of their past nine games, including a 50-42 upset of No. 16 Franklin County. They’re putting together 32 minutes of good basketball, with great spurts, and they’re led by the steadiness of senior starting guards Raisor, Davis and Shaw.
The three rely on each other for a collective calmness on the court. Sometimes, that calmness is pretty intense-looking, to the point you wonder if they’re actually having fun.
“People say that all the time,” Raisor said. “It’s just focus. We like beating the snot out of people. We’re real, real competitive.”
Like leading in the Franklin County game, Davis added, they couldn’t show how exited they felt with several minutes still to play.
“I think a lot of it is like, if we lose focus, the younger girls could lose focus, so we have to set an example for everybody until the game’s over,” she said.
So they’ll keep on hustling.
Raisor might pick off another pass for an open layup and burst of momentum, and Davis and Shaw have their tried-and-true spark plays, too.
Both are excellent perimeter shooters. And they’ll both dive across the court for a loose ball, crashing into opponents like a linebacker. Seriously, if they weren’t all of 5 feet 5 and 120 pounds, they might foul out of every game.
But that’s the kind of leadership you expect from a three players in their final high school season. They’re undoubtedly a close team, and much of their support of one another builds the teamwork to win games.
They’re not shy about contributing individual strengths, like Raisor handling the ball, or Davis and Shaw knocking down 3-pointers. Or injecting some personality when the team needs it.
“We might look like we’re all serious,” Davis said. “but there’s instances where Marissa will come up and say something…”
“…like I’ll rap in the huddle,” Raisor said. “Sometimes we are really tense, and we just need to loosen up and have fun.”
Davis, she said, is like a mammaw, making sure the defense coach Phillip Conder calls is executed on the court.
“Dee Dee will yell at you,” Raisor said, adding that Davis leads much of the offense, too.
“Taylor’s the quiet one,” Davis said, “but she comes out of her shell…”
“…when somebody makes her mad,” Raisor finished.
That simmering temper, albeit controlled, comes out in how hard the Lady Rockets' play. They’re looking forward to being an underdog this postseason.
“I think a big asset is that we have kind of a revenge factor,” Shaw said. “We want to get back at Anderson County. All these teams, like Franklin County, they come out thinking they had it. It pumps us up.”