English leads the way for Connell girls basketball

Craig Craker, Herald staff writerJanuary 8, 2013 

When Shelby English heard she was switching positions, the Connell junior didn’t bat an eyelash.

The Eagles’ head coach Kameron Jenks decided to move her from the wing to point guard — a tall order for one of the few juniors on the senior-laden Connell squad.

But English has been dynamic since the switch, embracing the role and helping lead the Eagles to an 8-2 record. They play a key SCAC East game at 5:45 p.m. today at Kiona-Benton.

“I have kind of taken to the position and am really enjoying it,” she said. “(My teammates) were glad it happened. We finally pulled together and it is all coming together nicely now.”

English, who transferred from Chiawana to Connell a year and a half ago, has played basketball for 10 years, and was a point guard for seven of those. So, while the position isn’t new, being in charge of the Eagles is.

“I sat down with her after the third game and put a lot more pressure on her,” Jenks said. “I just asked if she would be willing to take over the role of leader on our team. She has done a good job.”

Her scoring is down, but the team’s turnovers have dropped and it has freed senior Marcianne Hawkins up to worry about scoring.

While English is solid on offense, it is her defense where she makes her biggest contribution.

Jenks said he thinks she is one of the best defensive players in the state, as she consistently draws the assignment of guarding the other team’s No. 1 scorer.

“She has quick feet,” he said. “She is just a dynamic player on the defense end. You don’t see that come around all the time. Just in your face all the time. We just have her harrass whoever she is on.”

During tonight’s big game against the Bears, she’ll be facing Bailey Schroeder — who is one of the top scorers in Eastern Washington.

“I played with Bailey this summer on an AAU team,” English said. “She knows my weaknesses as much as I know hers. I love the challenge. It really fires up our team.

“We have to try and diffuse their strengths. It is going to be a great game.”

Last season, the Bears won the regular-season title after splitting with the Eagles. Each team won on the others’ home court, something English hopes to have happen tonight as Connell is starting to click as a team.

“It feels like everyone has their role and they are coming together,” she said. “We’re not a selfish team. Everyone understands they contribute greatly, no matter how big or small your role is.”

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