Driver earns weekly honor

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Straughn senior Brittany Driver earned The Star-News Player of the Week honors for her performance at the South Regional Tournament in Dothan. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Straughn senior Brittany Driver earned The Star-News Player of the Week honors for her performance at the South Regional Tournament in Dothan. | Andrew Garner/Star-News

Under the soft glow of the incandescent light bulbs at the BJCC Arena in Birmingham, Straughn senior Brittany Driver is at home.

Ever since she can remember, Driver, who was home-schooled until her junior year, has been going to the Final 48 Championships each year with her dad, Jay, to watch girls basketball teams play for state titles.

Driver will get her shot at living her life-long dream of playing on the arena’s hardwood today in the Class 3A state semifinals as the Lady Tigers play seventh-ranked Holly Pond at 3 p.m.

The senior forward is able to fulfill her dream because of her stellar performance at the South Regional Tournament last week in Dothan.

Driver scored 22 points and had nine rebounds in Straughn’s 48-41 victory over Opp on Saturday, which helped give her the tournament Most Valuable Player Honors; and added a double-double 15 points and 14 rebounds against Abbeville on Thursday in the regional semifinals.

Her performance at the regional tournament earned her The Star-News Player of the Week honors.

Driver said her father — who took her to those many state tournaments — gave her some humbling advice prior to Saturday’s game that propelled her to have such a good game.

“My dad just told me before the game that the most important thing for me to realize is that my own performance for myself wasn’t as important as winning, and I needed to forget about that,” she said. “Once I did that, then everything would fall into place. That’s pretty much what happened. I came into the game knowing that I’m going to look for Jacie (Williamson) and I’m going to look for Katelyn (Kinsaul for passes), and I’m not going to force it. Then, when that kind of happened, it just opened up other opportunities for me to score.”

One such opportunity to score came in the fourth period for Driver.

Driver, who is unselfish by nature, said by no means did she take pride in the fact that she took it upon her shoulders to get a much-needed bucket for the team.

“(Opp) had made a run and we were at the free-throw line, and (Lady Bobcats forward) Laiken (Free) said, ‘it’s all right, we’re only down by six.’ I was just kind of like, wait, we got to score. We can’t just run the clock out forever. We need to put some points on the board.”

From the free throw line, Driver drove the entire length up the court and laid in a basket to put her team up for good.

Getting the win over Opp and advancing to the state finals hadn’t really sunk in for Driver as of Monday afternoon.

“I know that my dad told me this, he said Brittany, (today’s game) is a home game for you because every year of my life, I’ve watched the state tournament. I’ve been there every year and watched those girls,” she said. “It’s been my dream to be down there and to be down on that court and be one of those girls. It’s just so weird because it’s not a dream anymore. It’s reality.”

Driver added that this experience will be a new one for her.

“I’ve always been pumped up about it,” she said. “It’s almost like it’s new to me and it being a home court. I’m on the other end of that. Coach (Scott Kinsaul) keeps telling us to enjoy it. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s something you can tell your kids about years and years down the road.

“We’re going to enjoy it and the other aspects, too, not just basketball,” she said. “But, at the same time, we know we’re down there to win. We’ve got to focus on that, too.”

Brittany is the daughter of Jay and Robyn Driver of Rose Hill.