Early in the girls’ basketball season, Skyline’s Lauren Courtright flashed her potential and talent at times but also looked a little timid, oftentimes passing off to her teammates both with the ball and the weight of the moment.
And that was understandable. Courtright is only a freshman.
But as the season moved along, she began to get more comfortable with her surroundings and role on the team. This Eagle hasn’t landed – it’s about to take off and Skyline girls’ basketball should climb to new heights over the next three years.
“Playing varsity basketball as a freshman has always been a huge goal of mine,” said Lauren, the daughter of John and Susan Courtright. “Throughout my childhood years I would always put in the extra work to make it possible. There are not many female basketball players at Skyline which gave me more of an opportunity to step up.”
And step up she did, but she admits it took her some time to feel comfortable playing on the big stage. It’s an enormous jump from eighth grade to the varsity.
“I have never been the best at making new transitions,” she said. “Sadly, it takes me a long time to feel comfortable in a new environment. I knew before the season it was going to take me a few games to finally play like myself.
“The first couple of games I did not end up playing nearly as well as expected.”
But Skyline Coach Johnnie Horne knew it was just a matter of time. He was proud of the season Courtright had, which included averaging 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game to earn a spot Honorable Mention SEC.
“She was huge for us this season,” Horne said. “She played all five positions for us at various times. I think with a year under her belt of high school basketball will allow her to be more comfortable with the speed of the game. I think she could be dominant from start to finish next season. She has only begun to scratch the surface of her potential.”
Courtright also was named team MVP, an award voted on by her teammates.
“Coach Horne knows me really well and knew soon it would kick in and I would feel more comfortable,” she said. “I truly had the best teammates this season. I am very close with all of them. Since about fourth grade I have played with Cammi (Tirico), Janee (Faulkner) and Renee (Faulkner). We all have had many experiences playing together and they were all very supportive no matter if we were losing.”
The Eagles were young this past season, with three freshman, five sophomores and no seniors. They took their lumps but they also got better and understand that experience and hard work will show up in the win column down the road.
“At the beginning I went through a rough patch where I rarely had any points,” Courtright said. “We were at Northville High School near the end of December and we had a game against South Lyon East. I remember that game because I really became comfortable with the basketball and started to make more plays. That was also my first high school win.”
That confidence only increased as the season moved along.
“Towards the end of the season I picked it up and started playing better basketball,” she said. “As for my team, we are still very young. Yes, it was not the season we wanted, but we grew from every loss. The outcomes of every game may not have been what we wanted but we will only learn from them.”
Sounds like a leader talking – a role people around the program could easily see the 5-11 forward filling in the near future. And while the wins didn’t pile up this past season the potential is there and this could be a very good basketball team as early as next year.
“The best part about playing varsity as a freshman was having the opportunity to play at such a competitive level at a young age,” Courtright said. “I learned many things throughout the season that I will use the next three years. It was nice knowing I still have a long time to grow as a player and teammate.”
The goal moving forward is to keep learning and improving and throw a few more games into the win column.
“Next season I hope to come out with a few more wins,” she says. “I know my team is going to train a lot over the summer and we will be prepared.”
Her long-term future is still bouncing in the air but she hopes the ball lands on a college basketball floor.
“Right now I am still debating what I want to do,” says Courtright, who is currently on the Skyline crew team and plans on playing AAU basketball in the summer. “Playing basketball in college has always been a big dream of mine. I believe that would be an amazing experience.”