By the time a team wins its 15th game without a loss, a go-to star player has usually emerged.
Not so in Edwardsville, where the state-ranked girls basketball team has three players averaging in double figures and at least four have been a game-high scorer.
Sophomore Makenzie Silvey was star dujour twice last week, posting 24 points each in Southwestern Conference wins over East St. Louis and O'Fallon. She's the Belleville News-Democrat Athlete of the Week.
"We've been very fortunate that we've been able to balance things out," said Edwardsville coach Lori Blade. "But Makenzie really stepped up in big wins against East St. Louis and O'Fallon. She wanted the basketball, you could see it."
Silvey is just one of a bumper crop of young players that will keep the No. 6 Tigers in the state rankings for years to come. All four of Edwardsville's game-high scorers this season are either a freshman or a sophomore.
Silvey wasn't sure what she should expect from the young team beyond being it being competitive.
"I thought we'd be OK because we have a lot of young talent," she said. "I can't say I thought we'd have 15 wins at this point. I didn't really know what to expect, but I didn’t think we’d lose a bunch of games. "
Freshman Rachel Pranger is the team's leading scorer at 16.2 points per game to go with 7.3 rebounds per game. Sophomore Christeon Waters averages 10.9 points and 5.7 boards per game.
The success of the young team has relied on its matured willingness to share the ball, Blade said.
"They are very unselfish with the ball, almost to a fault. But it's an OK problem to have," she said. "We've got good young kids are really buying into what we're trying to do. They don't worry about personal stats as much as how we come out at the end."
For Silvey, that means staying open in the perimeter when opponents bunch up under the basket to keep Pranger and Waters at bay. Such was the case in the Tigers' wins against East St. Louis and O'Fallon.
"They were guarding the high post so it opened up some opportunities," Silvey said. "When that happens we move the ball around and I think they look for me on the perimeter. I was fortunate to get some open shots and hit my free throws.
"But everybody is unselfish, which is good because everybody gets a chance to be involved. I just had the open shots this time."
Though statistics come secondary to wins in Edwardsville, the coach is gratified when a stellar performance becomes the reward for a player's hard work. In that regard, Blade said, Silvey has earned Athlete of the Week recognition.
"I just know that Makenzie loves basketball, she lives it," Blade said. "She's a real gym rat and she puts in the extra time it takes. And that's year-round, not just during the season. It's always good when you see the kids who work hard reap the benefits of it later."
Silvey says she’s careful not to take her success or the team’s 15-0 start for granted, especially as the Tigers head to a competitive mid-season tournament in Carbondale next week.
“We still have a big tournament next week and conference games left to go,” she said. “We’ve got to stay prepared mentally and physically and we can’t let up.”