Little things matter, that’s the simple truth.
A rim-rattling fast break dunk couldn’t happen without a defensive rebound or a steal and, often times, a good pass.
However, it’s the dunk that is showered with accolades.
Thus are the dynamics of a team.
A star, while worthy of headlines and said accolades, doesn’t make a team; the players surrounding that star, those players willing to do the little things, do.
Chestatee’s Chelsea Wilson and Peyton Robertson stand out. One is near lights out from the 3-point line; the other has some of the smoothest low-post moves in the area.
But have you paid attention to Rachel Kelley?
To a good portion of those sitting in the stands, Kelley is a reliever, sent in the game so that someone else can get a quick swig of water.
To the trained eye, however, she’s a coach’s dream.
This past Friday night against Johnson, Kelley entered the game at her low-post position and immediately made her presence known on the boards and with tenacious defense and hustle. While she finished the game as the team’s third leading scorer with 10 points, it wasn’t her scoring that caused her to stand out.
Kelley did the little things. She filled her role by being in the right spots in the Lady War Eagles’ press, passing when she needed to and not passing up an opportunity to score when it came.
She forced nothing, yet was a force.
Johnson’s Devaris Finch is the real deal, point blank.
The kid is money from the free-throw line, can break the ankles of any defender guaranteed and runs point guard for the Knights with a collected calm that has him at the rim before you know it.
But one night last week, with his team playing against a never-say-beaten Chestatee team, Finch got in foul trouble meaning his Knights couldn’t rely on his heady disposition down the stretch, or his free throws. In fact, Johnson was without their go-to guy for a good portion of the game.
Enter senior role player Quintavious Cheek.
It was said by Johnson coach Jeff Steele after his team squeaked by the War Eagles that, without Cheek, the outcome wouldn’t have tilted in the Knights’ favor.
It wasn’t showy, it wasn’t a 30-plus point effort, it was a guy who loves to play and play for Johnson showing up to do the little things when his team needed him to the most.
He grabbed rebounds, dove on the floor for loose balls and, most importantly, wanted the ball at the end of the game and with good reason. He did something hardly anyone else on his team could: consistently make free throws.
While Kelley wasn’t the difference in the game because the Chestatee girls probably would have won regardless, there’s no question that Cheek was the x-factor, the difference maker, the role player turned go-to guy.
Every team has them, those who dwell in the land of little things. There’s the 3-point specialist who wouldn’t be able to drive to the hole if their lives depended on it, but they’ll hit that one 3-pointer in a clutch moment.
There’s the no holds barred defensive player who should never handle the ball and knows it, so after making that clutch steal, immediately looks for a teammate to give it off to.
There’s the scrappy point guard, who also happens to be the shortest player on the court, who doesn’t score a point in the game, but has multiple assists and takes that charge that fouls the other team’s best player out.
The role players, the supporting cast surrounding the star; they won’t go to UConn, but they will be the reason Lanierland, region and state championships are won.