Girls Junior Varsity Basketball, Girls Varsity Basketball · Lee, Van Rij ready to lead Lady Bulldogs as seniors

Bearden’s girls basketball team started off the 2016-17 season on a 19-game win streak, and finished the regular season with a record of 24-1.

Despite the success in the regular season, the Lady Bulldogs hit a tough stretch at the end of the season, losing their final three tournament games, missing out on a chance to go to the state tournament.

This season, they look to make a regular season run similar to last year, but this time they hope to advance further in the post season.

“I expect us to win district and go to region, and I think this year we have a really good chance at going to state,” senior Grace Van Rij said.

A big component of their success the past three years has been guard Trinity Lee, who now as a senior expects to improve upon her skills from last year and become a leader for the team.

“It’s changed a lot since I was a junior last year,” Lee said. “I’ve had to learn how to lead by example and just encourage my teammates that they can do it and just be there for them.

“I had to change my whole mindset because it’s not about me. It’s more about my team.”

Coach Justin Underwood believes that Lee will be able to step up and be a leader this year for the team.

“I think she gives me a great example,” Coach Underwood said. “With she and Grace being our two seniors, I think that the way they conduct themselves in the daily practice and even in the hallways, is just a good example for everyone to look up to.

“The pace she plays with in practice helps raise the expectations for all of our kids.”

Last week, Lee signed to play collegiate basketball with King University, and this just adds to her list of accomplishments.

Lee and the rest of the team will tip off their season Thursday on the road against Morristown East at 6 p.m., followed by the boys at 7:30 p.m.

Coach Underwood expects Lee to step up more this season because of her improved skills over the offseason.

“I’ve been going to the gym a lot and working on like one dribble, shooting, two dribbles, shooting, pump fakes, and all that stuff,” Lee said. “I’ve being working on it constantly so I can improve it in the game because I can’t just be a catch and shoot player; I have to play off the dribble as well.”

Added Van Rij: “I think Trin is one of our strongest players this year especially because she knows the pressure of having to be out on the court and score, and I think she’ll be a really big aspect to our game and make us a lot better.”