COVINGTON, Ga. — To be a floor general on the varsity basketball level is a special responsibility. To do it as a freshman, even more so.
That’s the place Eastside freshman point guard, Lizzie Teasley has found herself in this season. The Lady Eagles welcomed Teasley to their team this year as their starting varsity point guard, a big position for such an inexperienced player.
After attending the Lady Eagles’ summer basketball camp, the freshman caught the eye of head coach Gladys King.
“We opened up our camp for the kids to come in and practice during the summer time, and when I saw some of the things she [was advanced in] — ball handling skills, catching ability, [ability] to run the floor, hustling — I realized that she was more advanced than the other players,” King said.
From there, she began training with the team, and learning how to perform as a point guard and as a leader for the team. And although there are some adjustments King has had to walk Teasley through, thanks to her youth, King says such things are a small price to pay to have Teasley’s skill on the court.
“I can live with some of the freshman mistakes as far as being timid, shy and not wanting to handle a lot of the pressure,” King said. “We can get through those. Those are just growing pains as a freshman.”
Teasley acknowledges that transitioning from a middle school team to a high school varsity team has presented some challenges.
“My first game was definitely an eye-opener for me,” Teasley said. “I came in thinking that I was going to be able to dribble through [as] I did in middle school. But I had to learn that I had to step up. And the transition was difficult for me.”
Aside from a different on-court atmosphere, Teasley is trying to adjust to simply being a part of a new team — one with a much more physically demanding schedule. That also includes getting used to being on a squad full of older girls and developing team chemistry.
“The first game I played, [the other girls] didn’t want to give me the ball,” she said. “I had to earn my position in practice, and now we’re starting to play team ball and click together. I had to get them to commit to me.”
For the most part, it’s gone well. She’s averaging 5.2 points and about two rebounds and an assist per game for Eastside (9-8, 5-4 in Region 4-AAAA) and is trying to do her part to help position the Lady Eagles for a state tournament berth.
Whatever success she’s had, Teasley said it only makes her want to work harder.
“[Now] I train every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 a.m. before school,” she said. “Then I go to school, and after school, I train for two hours every day. Basketball is my life, and I know if I use what I do in training I’ll be fine.”
While she has definitely faced some challenges, she has also improved.
“She has progressed very well since the first game, as far as always trying to pass the ball, not necessarily looking for her shot or trying to attack the basket,” King said.
Teasley’s also not as timid on the court as she used to be.
“I think [I’ve improved] because my confidence came in,” Teasley said. “At first I wasn’t confident. I thought I was confident, but I wasn't confident. The first game I realized I couldn’t just wake up and play the game. I had to focus myself before the game.”
King has noticed many promising traits in Teasley that she plans to build on to make her a stronger player.
“Her hustle, she’s really quick,” King said. “When we get loose balls she can get after them where some people are not as quick. But I saw that this summer, and that was one of the things that impressed me a lot. She is very positive, she listens and she asks a lot of questions.”
Teasley’s personal focus for improvement right now is on driving to the basket, footwork, and the “team ball” mentality on the court. Those were elements she tried to work on this past Saturday in Eastside’s second game against Newton.
It was a tough night for the Lady Eagles — a 57-35 loss in a game where the Lady Rams tried to get a little revenge from Eastside’s overtime win against Newton a couple of weeks ago.
Teasley scored six points in the game, and had some good moments handling the ball, despite the loss.
“I’ve improved with trying to drive to the basket, cause I know I can take them off of the dribble. I know that I have the moves,” Teasley said. “But at the beginning of the (Newton game) I was iffy. I thought, ‘I can’t do this against these girls. They won’t fall for it.’ So lately I’ve been passive, but (Saturday night) I decided I was going to drive.”
Through it all, she’s learning what it truly means to be a floor general at the point guard position.
"Sometimes I’m a little ‘iffy’ on my dribbles and I might mess up, but I can see the court and I love to pass to my team,” Teasley said. “I’d rather get 10 assists than 10 points scored because then I feel like I did my job.”
While she has made improvements, she also knows it’s just the beginning of her career, and she still has three more years of high school ball ahead.
“I feel like I’m improving but I still have a long way to go. It’s only my freshman year,” she said. “And a lot of people don’t get this opportunity. They have to wait until their senior year and I didn’t. So from this day on, I’m going to come out, keep driving, keep kicking, keep getting assists and it should be good.”