Rookies contribute to team’s success

It looks like the newest additions to the Lady Rattlers are definitely holding their own.

With a cumulative average of 17 points per game, freshman trio Marke Freeman, Secrett Anderson and Kirsten Stallings are contributing to the Lady Rattlers’ second place standing in the MEAC conference.

“Coming in as freshmen, you really don’t know what role you have to play,” Freeman said.

Freeman, a native of Springfield, Ill., was named MEAC Rookie of the Week twice this season.

“It’s a great honor and unexpected,” Freeman said of her conference awards.

Anderson also flexed her muscles in the conference.

The Arlington, Texas forward was also named Rookie of the Week in the second week of January.

But she did not claim full credit for the team’s success.

“It’s cool everyone recognized my talent, but it’s a team effort,” Anderson said.

While Stallings may not get as much playing time as Freeman and Anderson, Head Coach Debra Clark said she is coming along well.

“So far, the three (of them) have been progressing nicely for us,” Clark said.

The adjustment of playing high school and college basketball can be physically and mentally tough on any ballplayer, but these athletes have already adjusted to being in a new environment.

“Coming from high school, we were the fastest, scoring like 30 points a game, and now we all are on the same level,” Freeman said.

Clark said the girls are learning every day how to adjust to college life.

“Second semester, being away from home is not as big an issue,” Clark said. “This term there is more focus on their skills.”

These developing skills showed last Saturday when the Lady Rattlers took on the South Carolina State University Lady Bulldogs. During a 21-7 run, Freeman scored five points including a crucial three-pointer. With a 19-point lead, Secrett Anderson then capped the Lady Rattlers’ run with a jumper.The Lady Rattlers beat the Lady Bulldogs 69-59. The freshmen were impressive again in Monday’s win over North Carolina A&T University.

Anderson put up 15 points and eight rebounds in 37 minutes on the floor. The Rattlers never let the Lady Aggies’ lead surpass eight points. Freeman scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and knocked down two of four from three-point range. The Lady Rattlers came away with a win over the Lady Aggies, 72-65. “I did what the coach and upperclassmen told me to do, taking care of the ball and executing plays,” Freeman said after the team’s victory.

Anderson shared some of the same feelings after Monday night’s win.

“I played my part, as a team player, which served the team well,” Anderson said.

Q’Vaunda Curry, a junior guard from Quincy, said the youngsters’ approach to the game makes them a valuable asset to the team.

“They bring energy to the floor,” Curry said.

“They can play,” Curry said. “Sometimes freshmen come in, and they may not be all that good, but they aren’t scared, go hard and play well. I definitely feel they are pulling their weight.”

What’s most impressive about these freshmen is their willingness to step into leadership roles. Freeman has taken to the task of leading the team from the point guard position.

“As point guards, you are put into a leadership role automatically,” Curry said. “Marke is a good leader, smart and a good ball player.”

College basketball just takes some time getting used to, but these three ballplayers seem to have gotten the ball rolling.