WHITE CASTLE — Ask three coaches to define what a role player is, and you’ll probably get three different definitions.
Sophomore post player Brooklyn Falcon said the White Castle girls basketball team’s definition is simple.
“If you love basketball, you do what you have to do to get to where you want to go,” she said. “That’s us. ... We do what we have to do.”
The 5-foot-7 Falcon is one of coach Tammy Pierce’s three unsung heroes. Juniors Blessing Franklin and Ashante Knight are the other key role players Pierce will be relying on Tuesday night.
That’s when sixth-seeded White Castle (22-11) takes on No. 2 Vermilion Catholic (24-4) to help open the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Girls Top 28 tournament at Burton Coliseum in Lake Charles. The WCHS-VCHS game caps a four-game schedule; it’s slated to start at 7:45 p.m.
“Every team has to have role players,” Pierce said. “We actually go in and define their roles for them before the season starts. These girls don’t score a lot of points, and that doesn’t matter to them.
“I’ve never had any of them ask me how many points they had. But they do ask how many rebounds they have or how many charges they took. That’s important to them because that’s their role.”
Falcon had one major moment of glory this season: She made the game-winning shot in the Bulldogs’ first win over District 8-1A rival West St. John. She also understands her role is to play defense, rebound and pick up points on putbacks.
It’s the same story for Knight, a track sprinter who started playing basketball in middle school and is now part of White Castle’s first Top 28 girls team since 2010.
“I just wanted to see if I could do it (basketball),” she said. “I really didn’t know a lot about the tradition until I was in ninth grade.”
Like Falcon, the 5-7 Knight is an undersized post player who helps make the Bulldogs go with her rebounding and defense. The duo typically gives WCHS 15 to 18 rebounds per game.
Twins Skylar and Shylar O’Bear lead the offense, averaging a combined total of 34 points.
“We’re more confident now,” Knight said. “Earlier in the year we played some big schools. I remember a game we played against Karr (a 4A semifinalist). They were bigger and more physical, but we hung with them for a while. That showed us what we could do if we kept working.”
Franklin (5-6) typically plays the third guard for the Bulldogs. She is the other offensive option after the O’Bears and averages 10 points.
Franklin also has direct ties to the 2005 WCHS girls team that won a 1A title and the 2011 boys team that claimed a 1A crown. Older brother Qadry Allen was a starter on the 2011 title team. Franklin watched two cousins play for the 2005 girls team.
“When the defense keys off Sky and Shy, I have to knock down the shots,” Franklin said.
“I remember coming to the games (in 2005). It was a big deal. People always think about the boys when you say White Castle basketball, but we have a tradition, too. This is important to us.”
And so are the role players.
“One of the girls asked why anybody would want to write a story about them,” Pierce said of the role players. “They make us a complete team. … That’s the answer.”
Vermilion Catholic enters the game on a nine-game winning streak. The Eagles were the Class 1A state champions in 2013. Ashailee Brailey (22 points per game) and 6-0 center Kaylen Collins (18.0 ppg) were starters on the title team. Skylar O’Bear leads the Bulldogs with a 17.7 average; Shylar O’Bear is at 16.5.
“They’re very athletic,” VCHS coach Kim Guidry said of White Castle. “They have a super duo with the twins and another shooting guard. We have to contain those two, we have to protect the basketball. We have to step up our defense like we have every game this year.”
“They’re fundamentally sound,” WCHS’ Pierce said of VCHS. “They’re bigger. But we told our girls size doesn’t matter. It’s the size of the heart. We have to match their intensity.”
Boys game moved
The WCHS-VCHS game also affected the White Castle boys’ playoff contest. The Bulldogs’ regional game with Plain Dealing was moved to 7 p.m. Wednesday.
LHSAA rules prohibit boys teams from playing on the same night that the school’s girls team competes at the Top 28 tourney.