Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Pleasant Home Lady Eagles have seen success this season, partially due to the help of seniors: Erin Byrd, Brittany Ward and Ariel Gunter.
The Lady Eagles (21-4) won their area tournament Monday night against Florala, 60-36 at home.
The Lady Eagles will host Brantley tonight in the sub-region round of the state tournament. Tip off is at 7 p.m.
All three seniors have played under Pleasant Home coach Kelley Garner for the past four years.
Each say they have learned a lot about playing at “110 percent” and to their full potential.
Byrd, Ward and Gunter sat down with the sports editor for the Andalusia Star-News in an interview to discuss their experiences during the past four years.
What has it been like playing under coach Garner for four years?
Erin Byrd: Playing for coach Garner has been real exciting. She never keeps the game boring.
Brittany Ward: It’s been an awesome time playing under her. Whether how bad we’re beating this team and we’re up by 80-10, we still have to give it full force no matter what.
EB: She always stresses to never quit, no matter what, even if we’re down by 25 points. We have been down by 25 before, a couple years ago in Bethlehem, and that’s just one of the things that she stresses is to hustle and never give up.
Ariel Gunter: It has been great. She is a wonderful Christian woman who makes us feel like a family instead of just a team.
How has she helped mold you as players?
BW: To be better at anything, not just on the court, but off the court, to have faith in God and lean towards Him.
AG: She pushes me and never expects less than what she knows I am capable of. If I did decent in a game, she would definitely tell me what to work on, but if I gave a 110 percent, she’d smile and let me know she was proud.
What is the most important thing she has taught you?
EB: To always believe in yourself. We’re not the biggest team out there and we don’t have the most depth, but just to believe in yourself and that anything is possible.
AG: She has taught me that it is not just the level of athletic ability, but the amount of heart you put into it.
When did you start playing basketball in life?
EB: I think I started when I was in fifth grade in the city. I played at Johnson Park for about three years and then I started with (junior varsity) and then played ever since.
AG: My dad had me in the yard shooting hoops when I was still in pull-ups. I started playing on a team at Johnson Park when I was six.
Why do you play basketball?
EB: My mom got me into basketball. She went to college to play basketball and she taught me the game. She just basically showed me how to shoot and I love the game.
BW: My brother got me into playing the game. He went to college to play for Faulkner State and made it big there. He has always been on my case about being like him one day and I just followed in his shoes.
AG: It’s a part of me. I love the game and everything about it.
Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?
EB: I’m planning to go to Birmingham-Southern College to play softball, so I want to major in broadcast journalism up there. In 10 years, I’m hoping to have a job in sports broadcasting and living in my own house and paying my own bills.
BW: I’m going into the (U.S.) Army after high school. I’m going to be a military policeman to start a new life and have a family. I’m going to go to college and get a degree, as well.
AG: My dream is to be the ultimate housewife (laughs). But in case that doesn’t work out, I would like to have started a family and working a job somewhere in the medical field. Wherever God takes me I am happy with it.
How do you feel the season has gone so far?
EB: I think it’s gone great.
BW: It’s gone really, really great.
EB: All the girls on the team are best friends and we all get along.
BW: We’ve had our ups and downs, but just on the court we put everything aside and are best friends on the court.
AG: It has been fun. Of course undefeated would be great, but at least we take something from every loss.
EB: We’ve only lost three games the whole year and I think this has been our best record since I’ve played varsity. We’re hoping to make it state.
How has this season been different from the others?
BW: We haven’t been best friends, but we’ve kind of gotten closer and are trying to put everything behind us and be a better team.
EB: We’re the seniors this year so it feels like it’s our duty to make the team come together and show the team leadership. Brittany, Ariel and myself have always been together. If we ever have an issue, we always come together and talk about it. I don’t think there has been a conflict on the team this year.
AG: Our team functions so well because we love each other. We are always there for each other on and off the court.
What can you say has contributed to your success?
EB: I think with Brittany’s 3-point shots, we have been “on” really good. Then, our defense. We’ve been playing really good defense. We’ve been working on a new defense and have finally been showing it the last couple of games. We kept our area under 50 points total. Again, the hustle and effort everybody gives.
BW: It’s not just the fact that we’re a tough team and know it, but we can’t come in with big heads thinking, “hey we just got it.” We have to stay confident and not underestimate any other team.
AG: We all play unselfish basketball. We don’t care who scores the points as long as the scoreboard shows an Eagle victory when the buzzer sounds.