Panther guard Vickers never stops working

Shaylin Vickers sets the tempo of the game for the Lady Panthers. (Alex Rubio Photo)

Shaylin Vickers sets the tempo of the game for the Lady Panthers. (Alex Rubio Photo)

By Paul Livengood

Shaylin Vickers, junior guard, never stops working all year long.

School released for the summer in 2015, and Vickers kept busy by working a summer job. This past summer, she worked for Happy Wok in Liberty Hill.

Then, basketball season started. Vickers stopped working at Happy Wok, and was back to work for Coach Chris Lange and the Liberty Hill Panthers.

Vickers is a starting guard for the No. 2 ranked 4A squad. Vickers imposes her will on Panther ball games by ramping up the pressure in the front spot of Coach Lange’s full court press.

While that spot in Lange’s defense is traditionally for the power forward or “four”, Vickers is the one that Lange trusts to set the tempo of the game from the front of the press. Lange praises the junior’s quick hands and feet, combined with her decision making of when to trap and when to lay off, making her the perfect fit for that position.

Vickers first played this position as a forward in junior high, so the experience of playing the position prompts Lange to keep her in that spot, despite being a guard now.

Vickers enjoys the responsibility of controlling the tempo of the game from the opening tip.

“It’s definitely difficult because you have to read when to go trap and when to not,” Vickers said. “When to stay back. But I like it a lot because I get to control how things go. It’s like, everything is based off of what you do. And you also steal the ball a lot when you’re at the front, too. So that feels good.”

Vickers is among the steal leaders on the team. She racked up a season-high in steals last week in an 84-23 home blowout of Leander Glenn. Vickers stole the ball five times in that game, all of which came in the first half. Vickers’ defense helped the Panthers leap to a 23-0 lead in the first quarter.

“I like to get ahead early, so then you feel like you are in control of the game,” Vickers said.

Vickers added 8 points to go along with all the steals to help propel Liberty Hill to victory.

The junior guard has been doing this all year, though. Vickers recorded eight points and three steals against Lorena, and three more steals at Temple.

After basketball ends, Vickers has transitioned to track and field in the past for a spring sport. However, she is debating whether or not she will run for Liberty Hill in her junior year. Vickers runs the 400-meter dash and the 4X400 meter dash for the Panthers, and is a two-time state champion in the 4X400 with her teammates on the relay.

Fellow teammate on the hardcourt and on the track, Bethany McLeod, thinks Vickers should keep running for the Panthers. However, Vickers seems to be leaning towards dropping track to focus solely on basketball.

“It’s really exhausting actually (to play sports year-round),” Vickers said. “You get no time off. But you’re competitive all the time, going from one sport to the other.”

Vickers does have an opportunity to potentially do something most high school athletes don’t get the chance to do, should she choose to run track again for her junior season, however. Winning two state titles in different sports during the same calendar year sure does make for a great story to tell.

Liberty Hill will likely make a run for the state title in basketball as the No. 2 ranked 4A team, and the 4X400 relay team is already the back-to-back defending champs. Who’s to say with Vickers’ help that the relay team couldn’t three peat as well?