Little did the five Larry brothers realize what they were creating at the time.
It was always natural amongst the brothers — all of whom went on to play for Rayne High School — to play competitive pick-up games at the family’s home.
Then came along the sixth member of the family — Whitley — with an immediate curiosity of the game and desire to be around her older brothers.
By the time Whitley was 7-8-years-old, she ventured onto the same court as her brothers, looking to mix it up and not getting much preferential treatment as the baby of the family.
“They would keep the ball high, and I would have to jump to get it,” Whitley Larry said with a laugh. “They would try and tease me. I look back at where I am now, and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Whitley Larry has taken traits from her older brothers Bradley, Jeremy, Willie III, Ryan and Payton, along with some of her playing experiences against them on the court, and grown into quite a player herself.
With No. 7 Rayne (25-6) set for a Class 4A state quarterfinal later this week against either Salmen or Loyola Prep, the Lady Wolves rely on an aggressive, full-court defense that features Larry — a 6-foot-1 junior — as the team’s interior stopper.
“When you press, you’re going to give up some easy buckets sometimes,” Rayne coach Chester Randall said. “Knowing you have her back there, you can turn it on for 32 minutes and just go. I’ll take my chances with Whitley back there.”
Larry was at her disruptive best in Monday’s 57-34 regional victory over No. 10 St. Thomas More.
The Lady Wolves’ commanding 33-18 halftime lead was equal parts full-court pressure, which forced more than 20 turnovers, and equal parts intimidation.
While she scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds Larry’s true worth to Rayne as serving as the team’s rim protector against teams that are successful in breaking the Lady Wolves’ pressure.
What appears to be an advantage to the opposition with several players in transition against Larry is quickly erased — literally — with tremendous desire and timing to either block shots or change their direction.
In her team’s latest victory — its ninth straight — Larry had 10 blocks.
“We’re aggressive, and if we get beat, we know Whitley’s back there,” Randall said. “She allows us to play more aggressive in every facet of the game.”
Since her arrival three years ago, Larry’s become very adept in that area, compensating for natural jumping ability with great length and anticipation.
“My arms are so long, I just put them out at an angle or straight up and force people to miss shots,” said Larry, who averages 8.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.2 blocks. “All my brothers all taller than me, so I used my length to defend them and it carried on in my high school career.”
Larry, a 4.0 student, studies such great shot-blockers as former Baylor All-American Brittney Griner and current South Carolina freshman A’ja Wilson, who are not only tall but use their length to their advantage.
The result has catapulted Larry to one of the Acadiana area’s top defensive players and given an additional edge to Rayne’s defense that flourishes in both full court and half-court sets.
Five times this season Larry has registered double-digit blocks with a career-high of 12 coming in a 58-54 loss to Class 5A quarterfinalist Walker.
Moreover, Larry has posted eight double-doubles highlighted by the outing against Walker where she had a triple-double with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.
“Having five brothers that all played high school basketball, that made me work harder to become a good basketball player,” Larry said. “If I get pushed around in a game, it doesn’t bother me because I’m used to it. I got pushed around, but it made me more aggressive and the player I am today.”