Posting up on perimeter
LaBrae’s Lauren Rutherford isn’t your typical girls basketball player. Standing at 5-feet-11, it’s easy to typecast the daughter of James and Julie Rutherford as a post player. That is until she catches a pass on the wing and lets fly, tickling the twine for a 3-pointer, or until she dribbles around a defender and drives to the hoop.
The senior used her height and her ability to play on the perimeter to surpass the 1,000-point mark for her career.
“She plays all over the floor,” LaBrae coach Larry Sanderson said. “That’s what her length inside can do. Most of our opponents are shorter than she is. She’s a great perimeter shooter. She’s a real nice shooter from distance. It makes her tougher to defend because she can step out and shoot. If you go out to guard her, she can go around you.”
Rutherford surpassed the 1,000-point mark late in January in a game at Grand Valley. She entered the game with 992 points and surpassed the plateau on a 3-pointer off a feed from Haley Davies midway through the second period of the 37-35 victory.
“I knew I was close,” she said. “I was trying to force shots to get there. I needed to relax because I knew, in time, it would come.
“We took it out-of-bonds on the side and Haley Davies threw it in to me. It was a three. The coaches were laughing and said it had to be a three.”
It’s fitting the shot that took Rutherford over the threshold was from the perimeter.
“Honestly, I like to play from the outside,” she said. “With my height, people say I should play in the post, but I like to shoot.”
Playing as a guard has always been more natural for Rutherford then playing in the post.
“In fourth grade, I was a point guard,” she said. “I was the tallest girl on the team and I was still a point guard. It wasn’t that difficult. I just took closer shots.”
That said, It took Rutherford some work to develop all of the skills that define who she is as a player.
“I just practiced a lot over the last three years,” she said. “I stay after practice and shoot around. I knew if I wanted to get it, I had to work hard.”
“She stays after practice and shoots continually,” Sanderson said. “Repetition makes her a better player. By doing so, she’s made herself a better player.”
Inadvertently, Rutherford may have found her motivation to reach the 1,000-point mark early in her high school career.
“Basketball’s always been my favorite (though she stars in soccer and plays softball, as well),” Rutherford said. “I don’t know why, exactly, I just love to watch the game.
“I went to high school basketball games when I was younger. I watched the high school girls, too. My freshmen year, Ashley Stubbs scored her 1,000th point. I thought it was really cool and it was something I wanted to do. That was one of my goals from then on.”
That didn’t mean it was a foregone conclusion. The Vikings were a strong team during Rutherford’s freshman campaign and she didn’t start.
“I didn’t think I would (get to 1,000 points),” she said. “But I always hoped I would. During my junior year, my dad would talk to me before games and tell me I could get it, I just had to shoot like I can.”
Without her coaches and teammates, Rutherford wouldn’t have reached her goal.
“My teammates definitely helped me a lot with it,” Rutherford said. “(Sanderson) definitely helped me reach the goals I wanted to reach.”
Rutherford lost one of her greater sources of support during her senior season when her grandfather, Larry, passed away. That doesn’t mean she didn’t have help from home.
“My grandpa was a really big supporter,” Rutherford said. “I wish he could’ve have been there to share (reaching 1,000 points) with him. It was nice (having my parents’ support), even if I had a really bad game, they would tell me I played a good game. I’m really hard on myself.”