Photo by Cari Dean.
Michaella Edwards has already surpassed 1,000 points for her career, and has a number of 30-point games this season.
Lori Weber is attempting to make the Chelsea High School girls basketball program one that is unable to be ignored.
Weber, in her first year as head coach, and assistant coach Lauren Swee, in her first year back at Chelsea after playing there in high school, are well on their way to accomplishing that.
The Lady Hornets began the season with an overtime win over Class 7A program Vestavia Hills, and rode that to a 6-0 start. Although the team hit a rough patch in December, it has rebounded and is playing some of its best basketball as the regular season nears its end.
“They are coming together even better than they did in the summer,” Weber said. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
Chelsea has proven that it can play with nearly anyone. But it is one thing to see the team’s ability to go out and beat nearly every team it faces. It is another to get the girls to believe that themselves.
“A goal for us is for the girls just to have confidence in themselves. That’s what we’re really trying to instill,” Swee said.
The coaches also are attempting to create a family environment with the group, on and off the court. “I want them to learn how to be good teammates and learn the game of basketball and learn about life through basketball,” Weber said.
“I think a huge part of our success this year has been to play together and give glory to the Lord,” Swee said.
A conversation about the on-court product begins with sophomore Michaella Edwards, who has already eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone in her varsity career, which began while she was still in middle school.
“She’s very driven,” Swee said. “She has a lot of passion, and it’s very evident in the way that she practices and the way that she plays. She loves the game. She loves being out on the court.”
Things have come full circle for Swee and Michaella Edwards. Michaella Edwards’ mother, Dr. Michele Edwards, coached Swee while at Chelsea. At the time, Michaella Edwards was 9 years old, and was around the team often.
While Swee did not realize it at the time, her days as a high school basketball player inspired Michaella Edwards.
Now, Swee is watching Michaella Edwards play high school ball.
“It’s really cool that I get to see her play, and I get to encourage her, and I get to invest in her, and it’s even more of a privilege because I didn’t know I was investing in her when I was here,” Swee said.
The number of games Michaella Edwards has scored at least 30 points in a game has reached double digits, but the Lady Hornets are not attempting to be a one-man show.
“We don’t want the girls to feel like, ‘Oh, let’s just give the ball to Michaella,’” Weber said. “It goes back to playing together.”
Allie Miller is the team’s leader in assists and steals, and her energy lifts the team. Hope Richard is a machine on the glass, as the team’s top rebounder. Kathryne Shoop is one of many other contributors for the Lady Hornets.
Chelsea’s program is one that should continue to grow from this point, as there are nine freshmen in the program, four competing with the varsity squad.
The goal for the Lady Hornets this year is to advance as far as they can, though. There is certainly an opportunity to advance to regionals in Montgomery if they are still playing at a high level once that time comes. “They’re good enough to beat anybody,” Weber said. “As long as we do what we can do, everything else will fall into place.”