By Ashli McLean
If there’s one thing Christian Academy of Louisville (CAL) head coach Perry White has been saying since preseason, it’s that his eighth grade starter Shelby Calhoun plays like a veteran.
And she does.
You actually wouldn’t even think she’s as young as she is when you see her play on the court. Not only does she have an athletic build, standing at 5-foot-8, but she also showcases talent at every single position. She’s undeniable. And her 22-point effort tonight garnered a 68-60 win for her team over North Bullitt in the opening round of the Louisville Invitational Tournament (LIT).
“It’s amazing to watch her on the floor,” said White. “She came in last year as a seventh grader…and her confidence, she’s fearless when she gets out there, you know. It’s like she doesn’t get rattled. And most eighth graders do. Seventh graders do. She did this as a seventh grader as well.”
Calhoun only had four points in the first quarter as the Centurions led North Bullitt 16-14. It was a slow start for both teams.
With just under five minutes left in the second quarter, a layup by North Bullitt’s Katie Downey cut CAL’s lead by three (21-18). An assist by Calhoun to Emma Wesley in the paint put two more on the scoreboard for CAL, and Wesley returned the favor on the next possession when she caught Calhoun ready to receive a pass while heading down the lane to take them up 25-19 at the 3:39 mark.
CAL looked like the more controlled team on the court. They took patient shots while the Lady Eagles appeared to play a bit rushed and rattled against solid CAL pressure.
CAL held a 25-21 lead at the half as both teams had struggled with shooting. White kept encouraging his team on what he could see from the bench.
“We were taking good shots in the first half,” he said. “That’s what I told them at halftime. We’re taking good shots. They’re going in and out. We’re missing three’s, but they were in and out. So I had no problem with it. I told them ‘Keep shooting with confidence.'”
With 3:57 left in the third quarter, Calhoun hit a jumper to extend CAL’s lead by double digits, 39-29, and her own three nearly 50 seconds later drove the Centurions even further away from North Bullitt, 44-31. The buckets came easy to a young player who seemed to be in a rhythm. She had three 3’s in the third quarter alone.
North Bullitt kept fighting and finished the quarter within four points, 48-44, thanks to a three-pointer by Hailey Free and two jumpers from Erin Dolan.
The closest the Lady Eagles would come in the fourth quarter was within two points when Dolan fired a huge three at the 4:08 mark to cut the score 55-53. In the final 1:01 when the score was 64-57, North Bullitt started fouling. However, that put CAL shooters who could make it on the line, and the Centurions lived to see another day in the tournament with the 68-60 win.
CAL will face Butler on Jan. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Bellarmine.
Wesley finished 15 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and three steals. Calhoun, who also plays for WNBA player Skylar Diggins’ Sky Diggs Elite 2020 AAU team, added nine rebounds and five assists.
For North Bullitt, Dolan and Downey tied for 14 points. Downey had seven rebounds; Dolan had five assists.