Shelton is Bobcats’ floor generalPublished 6:31pm Tuesday, January 22, 2013
When Mackenzie Shelton returned to the starting lineup for the Brandywine girls basketball team last Thursday against Mendon, the heralded senior point guard remembers being both nervous and excited.
Shelton’s nerves were affected by the fact that she had missed the Lady Bobcats’ three previous games following a sprained ankle, while the excitement stemmed from the fact that she was returning just in time to face an undefeated and state-ranked Mendon squad with revenge on its mind.
With Shelton running the show, Brandywine escaped with a 51-47 win over Mendon, the same team it had beaten last March to win its third straight Class C regional championship.
“At first, I was kind of nervous, but as I got playing I didn’t even think about (the ankle),” said Shelton, who finished with nine points, five rebounds and two steals to help keep Brandywine unbeaten this season. “It felt really good as the game went along, but it was sore after the game.”
In her fourth year on the varsity squad, and playing for her half-brother, Josh Hood, Shelton has walked off the court a winner in 82 of 88 games since her freshman year. This season, the Lady Bobcats have won all 11 outings and are ranked No. 3 in the current Associated Press Class C poll.
“It’s really exciting for the community and for everyone associated with our program,” Hood said. “It all comes from the girls. The thing about our program, our girls don’t get big heads. They come to work every day and take it one game at a time. They know what it takes to get to where we want to be, and beyond that. It’s a tribute to them that they are such hard-working kids.”
In Shelton’s absence, Casspolis transfer Tammy Lee and freshman Emily Erwin filled in at point guard, while returnees Rachel Ort and Victoria Knight also helped keep the ship steaming ahead.
“It’s really nice, because the group of girls this year doesn’t depend on one or two girls,” Shelton said. “We can all shoot and we can all dribble. They didn’t need me out there. We can all do the same thing. They did a really good job while I was out.”
“We’ve been successful because we’ve had stability at the guard position,” he said. “When you see a kid work so hard, especially going into her senior year, and then she goes down with an injury, your heart sinks, but we are fortunate. We have a lot of good basketball players and the girls rallied around (Shelton).”
Shelton said she practiced only four days prior to playing against Mendon, and Hood was understandably happy to pencil her name into the scorebook for the game against the Hornets.
“It was big from a leadership standpoint, and the girls look to her,” Hood said. “In addition to her offensive skills, she’s been our best defender.”
Hood was also quick to note that Shelton carries a 4.0 grade-point average, will graduate as the school’s valedictorian and also serves as president of both the student senate and the senior class.
“She is the prototypical student-athlete. She excels, academically, and also pushes herself, athletically,” Hood added about Shelton.
Shelton, who also excels in volleyball and tennis, has played for five regional championship teams during her prep career, and is hoping to add to that total.
“We just take it one game at a time, seeing what the next team does and getting prepared for them,” she said. “We try to get better as we go along.”