Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WASHINGTON C.H. — There’s not many factors that can sidetrack Miami Trace’s Cassidy Lovett … a broken knuckle included.
Lovett, the Panthers’ senior point guard and proverbial engine that keeps the train rolling, broke a knuckle on her right hand early in the season.
The injury forced Lovett to sit out one game.
But just one. That’s all it took for her to make an executive decision.
“I broke my knuckle like three weeks ago but I’ve just been playing with it. It doesn’t hurt too much anymore,” Lovett said. “I sat out one game and everybody had to play different spots. I didn’t think that was fair to my teammates, midway through the season, to have to switch it up.”
The fact that Lovett had her teammates on her mind while she went through pain paints a vivid picture of the personality she truly carries. Team first, me second is a mindset for her.
And if you’ve ever questioned her effort on the court, you might want to reconsider that notion.
“I have a lot of fun with these girls. My main thing is to basically set the tempo for the team,” Lovett said. “If I’m playing hard, I think everybody else will play hard with me. I just give it all I’ve got and try to set an example for everybody else.”
That’s what she’s attempted to do throughout her entire four-year career … and she’s been extremely successful in her efforts.
During her sophomore year, she played an imperative part in the Panthers advancing to a Division II state semifinal before a 48-40 loss to Hathaway Brown. Her junior year ended with a loss to Sheridan in a district semifinal.
Her senior year? That story has yet to be told.
But if Lovett has any say in the matter, Miami Trace’s postseason run will be a lengthy one.
“I think we have a lot of potential and we’re starting to peak. It can only go up from here. We’re on a streak right now,” Lovett said. “We started out rough but we’ve realized that we have to play as a team to be successful. There’s no selfish players. But at the beginning of the season, some of us we’re trying to do too much. So we’ve kind of spread out scoring and it’s worked.”
Like a charm.
After a 2-3 start, the Panthers have won six of their last eight and now stand at 8-5 overall. Wins during that time include victories over Minford, Eastern Brown, Peebles and Huntington.
Maybe it’s due to changes in attitude, maybe it’s talent finally seeping through the cracks, or maybe — just maybe — it’s other forces at play.
“I’m superstitious. As a team, we do a dance and we pray a certain prayer every game,” Lovett said. “I wrap my hand the same, go through the same order getting dressed. That kind of thing.”
While Lovett certainly hopes the wins keep coming in whatever manner necessary, each game represents one step closer to the end of a storied career.
“This second half of the season is starting to hit me,” Lovett said. “It’s made me definitely step up and realize I’m running out of time. So I’ve got to make every game count.”
That’s something she’s always done. It’s a first one to arrive, last one to leave type of thing.
Lovett says she wants to continue to play basketball at the next level while pursuing a teaching degree. She’s not sure where she wants to further her education, but any university would be lucky to have her.
The same type of effort she puts forth on the court mirrors her contributions in the classroom.
But first, she’s got a legacy to put a stamp on as a Panther. While she put the ball in the basket at will, she’d rather be remembered for her defensive efforts.
That, of course, fits her personality perfectly.
“I just hope people look back at my career and think about defense,” Lovett said. “Defense is effort. I hope that I leave behind a legacy of that. It doesn’t matter if your shot is off. You can always play defense and get playing time. That’s what I brought to the team. It’s my favorite part of the game.”