Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
PROCTORVILLE — When Harlie Lyons first started to fall in love with the game of basketball at a young age, Symmes Valley didn’t have a youth program for her to play in.
So, she moved somewhere that did.
“I started playing in kindergarten and I moved to Fairland to play basketball because they had a [youth] program and Symmes Valley didn’t,” Lyons said. “Then I played at the YMCA in Huntington [W. Va.], and I played with boys. I feel like that helped me develop; the competition, and always playing up a level with older people.”
Since those early days, Lyons has blossomed into one of the Ohio Valley Conference’s most dangerous scoring threats. Fairland’s starting junior guard can hurt opponents from beyond the 3-point arc, attack the bucket or pull up from mid-range.
That time she spent in the gym at an early age, and the time she continues to put in now, has paid off tremendously.
“Harlie is a hard worker and the kid is in the gym more than anybody we have,” Fairland coach Jon Buchanan said. “Her skill level is what it is because of the time she’s spent there. She’s a great shooter, a high-level threat, and especially the second half of the year when people have tried to run her off the line, she’s done a good job of getting to the basket. Right or left-handed, she can drive it. We’re super excited for her future. We love a ton about her game.”
In 21 games this season, Lyons is averaging 11.3 points per game on a team that shares the ball well. The Dragons feature five players that are scoring five or more points per game, including McDonald’s All-American nominee Allie Marshall, who leads the team at 12.7.
Lyons’ scoring output has seen a sharp incline — she averaged 6.4 points as a junior on a team that finished 23-2 and won a district championship.
To go along with her 11.3 points a night, she’s added 51 3-point field goals, 47 rebounds and 37 steals. All of those numbers are career highs and she currently sits at 97 career 3-pointers.
But there’s still many things she can improve upon.
“I want to get better at attacking the basket and finishing around the rim,” Lyons said. “I also want to get better on defense. I feel like my role as an offensive person … I want to be known as more than that. I want to expand my game more.”
Her biggest supporters are wanting her to do the same … and they know she has the ability to do so.
“My papaw, him and my mom, they follow me everywhere,” Lyons said. “They’re constantly taking me to exposure events and I feel like they’re the people that really push me to get better and help me be the player I am. They’re really supportive. No matter what I decide to do, they’re there.”
Lyons has made a decision on whether or not she wants to play at the next level. The junior says that’s certainly an aspiration of hers while she plans to pursue a teaching degree.
But before any of that can even happen, she’s focused on helping her Dragons continue their current postseason journey. Lyons and her teammates have already ended the seasons of Zane Trace and Valley in the sectional round.
The next test for Fairland, a No. 2 seed, is a matchup with Wheelersburg in a Division III district semifinal. The Dragons will come into Saturday’s date with the Pirates at 19-4 overall.
“I’m proud of us,” Lyons said. “We lost three big starters and seniors last year. So I feel like we’ve stepped up and, really, just played together and played well. We’ve beaten the odds, I think. People said we weren’t going to be as good and I think we’re really good. I’m proud and I want this season to last as long as possible.”