She’Ray Wilson’s drive to succeed means nobody has to get out back and push.
Her internal engine is all she needs. The Colleyville Heritage junior guard is so determined to get maximum out of her abilities that her holiday season breaks are greeted with uneasiness instead of anticipation. That means spending time out of the gym. Working on her game is interrupted.
“I know to get to the next level [college], you can’t take any days off,” Wilson said. “I have to work as hard as I can. When you have Thanksgiving and Christmas, you have to take a break. But then when you come back, you’re not 100 percent, so you have to work to get back to that.”
If every player that every coach guided had that approach, basketball would be a simple game. Still, the Lady Panthers (18-9, 8-0 District 8-5A) are using whatever means to make another push toward the postseason.
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In what was considered a rebuilding season after losing six seniors (four starters) from the 2016-2017 regional semifinalist team, Colleyville Heritage is still setting the pace in the district race.
A left-hander, Wilson (10.3 PPG) has emerged as the No. 2 scorer behind senior Bryn Gerlich and scored in double figures in 15 of her first 26 games. An apprentice type of sophomore year on the varsity went a long way toward where she is now. Her scoring is valuable. He defense is invaluable.
Head coach Dianna Sager rewards her team by giving it Saturdays off if it goes 7-0 through the first half of district play.
That happened. Wilson wanted no part of that. Sager met her at the gym and let her shoot for one hour.
“Her work ethic is second to none,” Sager said. “A very confident player. She takes the toughest defensive assignment and is not afraid of the big moment. She’Ray will get to the basket and shoot threes. Whatever it takes to succeed.”
The plan for 2016-2017 was to keep Wilson on the junior varsity. Plans changed when post Ashley McKillop was lost to a knee injury. Sager needed to put together the best roster.
Wilson played sparingly behind seniors Caitlyn Foster and McKinley Charles. Wilson averaged about six minutes per game and never started. However, Sager wanted her to get used to this brand of ball. The osmosis of hanging around, watching and learning from leaders has paid off this winter.
“Whenever the season got later and the further we went, the harder you had to practice,” Wilson said. “I really understood that how you practice is how you play.”
Questions entered this season about who would complement Gerlich. Wilson seized the chance with a relentless pace to her offseason. Wilson took Foster’s spot as the guard/forward. Wilson mirrored Foster defensively.
She made the current defensive stop of the season Jan. 12 against Grapevine. In the closing seconds and Colleyville Heritage leading 42-39, Grapevine attempted to inbound the ball under its basket to work for the game-tying shot. Wilson read the passing lane, stepped in front and came up with the steal and jetted down court to kill time. Colleyville Heritage won, 43-39.
“I feel like I bring my own skills to the table,” Wilson said. “Every think I learned last year was an eye opener. I knew a lot more was expected this year. We’re all working together to have a great season. We have a lot more to do.”