BY HARRISON TARR
FOR THE OBSERVER
As the AISA basketball season rolls on, the state playoff picture grows clearer by the day. For head coach Dusty Purdue and the Glenwood Lady Gators, a postseason berth is no longer the bar; it has become a given. After traveling to Auburn, Alabama, last Thursday night and taking down the highly regarded Lee-Scott Academy Warriors 56-40 in a hostile environment, the orange and green believe they have hit their stride.
According to Purdue, his squad stepped up in the big game against Lee-Scott, finding offensive production in places where — to this point — it had been absent.
“We just hit some big shots that we haven’t been hitting,” Purdue said. “Olivia Slocumb and Emma Head hit some really big shots. So did Jasmyn.”
Improved scoring from Slocum and Head was a sign of improvement; more importantly to the team’s success, it presented an opportunity to provide relief to star senior Jasmyn Burts.
“We got from Jasmyn what we’ve been getting for the most part,” Purdue said. “But we got a little bit more from everybody else. That was huge.”
Although he was proud of his role players for stepping up in the big moment, Purdue was sure to not forget the reality of Burts’ role in the Gators’ success against LSA and beyond.
“She’s the engine that makes the car run,” Purdue said. “Without her we wouldn’t do much of anything right now and our kids know that. It’s not a secret.”
Purdue recognized that — although his guard is the leader on a nightly basis — there were areas in which she must focus on, specifically in the discipline of picking apart a press defense.
“I thought that — at the beginning of the game — Jasmyn wasn’t pushing the ball like I wanted her to,” Purdue said. “Because that’s us. We’re not always great in the half court.”
It took Burts just two quarters to figure out the Warrior defensive scheme and begin scoring at will. Her head coach accredits that to her high ceiling and ability to rapidly approve on any part of her game.
“She’s as good as I’ve coached on the girls’ side and I’ve coached junior college basketball,” Purdue said. “I think she’s got a great upside and she’ll play at the next level. I’m excited that she’s on my team.”
The senior guard dropped 23 of her team’s 56 points in the blowout win, bolstering her case as a collegiate prospect.
As it stands now, Burts has earned offers from the like of Truett McConnel University (GA), The University of North Alabama, Troy University and Lander University (NC).
Following their emphatic victory over Calvary Christian on Monday evening, the Gators improve to 16-4 on the season and appear to be in position to potentially defend their state title later this semester. Glenwood will be back in action on Friday, Jan. 21, when the squad travels to take on the struggling Patriots of Pike Liberal Arts.