Peabody Magnet High’s Kadeejah Alexander (20, left) goes for two against Bunkie High’s Mayla Williams (24, right) on Thursday night. / Melinda Martinezfirstname.lastname@example.org
In the early going of her team's 69-30 victory over Bunkie High in the Peabody Magnet Fall Classic basketball game Thursday night, she was seemingly surrounded by a group with the grace and agility of puppies on an ice pond.
There were four traveling violations -- three by Bunkie -- in the first few minutes, and Peabody coach Michael Burks already had called a timeout.
With Peabody leading 5-2, Fantasia Banks got a steal and drove the length of the court for a layup -- and missed. Moments later, Alexander repeated the feat, getting a steal and driving the length of the court for a layup, as if to show the seven freshmen, seven sophomores and one junior how it's done.
After Bunkie coach Allen Thomas called a timeout with 57.2 seconds left in the first quarter with his team trailing 11-4, Alexander scored consecutive baskets on the break after snaring steals in a full-court press, and then Chelsea Wright stole the ball and went the length of the court for a basket, as if to show an understanding of how it's done, while putting her team in command at 17-4 at the end of the first period.
Alexander finished with 20 points, with 14 by halftime, when Peabody led 34-15.
"She's learning to be the leader," Burks said afterwards of Alexander. "It's a different role for her. She had been used to having other leaders around."
"Being the only senior, I try to step up and lead them," Alexander said. "When you're young, it's hard to keep the energy flowing. I try to keep everybody's head on the floor. We started kind of slow, but I told them, 'Keep pushing, the more we press and run our fast breaks, we'll be all right.'"
Wright added 11 points for Peabody (4-4).
T'keyah Young, who had 14 of Bunkie's 15 points at halftime, led the Panthers with 16 points.
Burks was upset at the many missed layups by his young Warhorses. On one possession late in the first half, there were four consecutive missed shots from beneath the basket before Demetrion Jones made a putback.
Yet, epitomizing the evolving maturity of the Peabody team, reserve Amber Gaston stole an inbounds pass at midcourt that led to a relay of crisp passes, climaxed by a layup at the third-quarter buzzer by Breona Miles.
"They're growing up in front of my eyes," said Burks, "and I like that."