Northeast Tarrant

Lady Panther a ‘GOAT’ in the best possible sense

Colleyville Heritage’s Emily Lewis has been labeled a “GOAT,” as in “Greatest of All Time,” for her late game-winning three-pointers.
Colleyville Heritage’s Emily Lewis has been labeled a “GOAT,” as in “Greatest of All Time,” for her late game-winning three-pointers.

The language of today versus the language of 30 years ago reflects a changing culture.

Refer to Colleyville Heritage girls basketball senior wing Emily Lewis as a goat back in the day, and it would refer to her making a huge mistake that cost her team a win.

Give her the same label of “GOAT” today, and she pretty much has scene control. Thanks to social media creating acronyms, GOAT now means “Greatest Of All Time.”

“I get kidded about it,” Lewis said. “It’s kind of funny.”

But the Lady Panthers captain has earned it. She’s hit two game-winning shots in the closing seconds that have energized Colleyville Heritage’s season. As the team prepared to play in this week’s Duncanville tournament, it was 13-4, shared the District 8-5A lead with Grapevine (3-0) and owned a six-game winning streak.

Lewis (5-9) has captured the heroics with the three-ball. On Nov. 11 in its own tournament against Plano West, she dropped the game-winner with about 13 seconds to play that led to a 55-52 win. A month later (Dec. 9), she did the same against Keller with only three seconds to play, pulling out a 48-46 win.

“It’s been a pretty long journey for me,” Lewis said. “Last year, I was a little more timid and didn’t contribute as much as I wanted. I’ve worked really hard to get confidence in my shot. I knew I had to have it because we were playing a tough non-district schedule to get ready for the district season. It’s been nothing but reps.”

Colleyville Heritage’s offense has morphed from watching junior wing Bryn Gerlich do most of the work to a team that’s sharing the ball more and trusting one another. It’s not uncommon to find three players in double figures. Gerlich and Lewis connected for the winner against Keller. Instead of driving to the basket and putting up the shot, Gerlich drove to the goal, drew several defenders and spotted a wide-open Lewis at the elbow of the three-point line.

Lewis may be averaging just 5.2 points thus far. But that’s changing. She’s averaged 11 over her last four.

“What I found impressive is that she kept texting me over the summer, asking when she could get in the gym to shoot,” head coach Dianna Sager said. “With the shooting lessons she took, the personal coach she worked with and just working on her own, she’s been rewarded for what she has done.”

Being a GOAT serves a dual purpose. It’s also revealed off the floor. Sager has a method of having her team choose its team captains. Before the season, players anonymously answered several questions about which player they want to see on the floor in close game, whose work ethic inspired them the most, who was the player that could be trusted and who represented this program the best on and off court. Lewis and Gerlich turned out to be easy winners.

Sager not only wants those players to embrace the title, but practice the responsibility. That means picking up towels and water bottles after games and practices. The more service-oriented they are, the more fulfilling the role becomes.

“Seniors usually have this mentality that they’ve seen it all and that no one has been doing it as long as they have,” Sager said. “But Emily as well as Bryn have never taken that attitude.”

Lewis’ role should continue to grow. She’s already shooting better than 55 percent from the field and 38 percent from three-point range. Poise will earn more shots. Leadership could lead to what is hoped will be a big season.

“I think we bring out the best in each other,” Lewis said. “We trust each other on and off the court. We’re willing to leave it all out there every night. I’m humbled I’m in this position.”

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