Saturday, March 8, 2014
SOUTH CHINA — There were always glimpses. One of last year’s came on senior night against Cony, the team that would go on to win the Eastern A title. Bridget Humphrey entered the game, and three minutes later, Erskine was on a 13-5 run.
SHINING BRIGHTLY: Erskine’s Bridget Humphrey is one of the top players in central Maine, averaging 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game for the Eagles.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Like all glimpses, they weren’t sustained — until this winter. This season, while Erskine has not won a game, Humphrey has emerged as one of the best girls basketball players in Eastern A. Heading into this week, she was averaging 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals, and 2.2 assists per game.
“When she decides that we need a rebound, she’ll go get a rebound,” Erskine coach Scott Corey said. “When she makes up her mind to do something, she does it. She can handle the ball as well as any big kid in the league with her right hand. She can step back and shoot the ball. She can get to the basket. She sees the floor so very well.”
Humphrey and Corey talked before the season about what his expectations were for her. Those were different from last winter, when the Eagles had seven seniors.
“I think it’s mostly just because I am a senior now,” Humphrey said. “We had quite a few seniors last year, so I just felt like I didn’t have the role. Now I have more responsibilities, and I get to do more. I think I see the court a lot better. I know what to do. I can’t always do it, but I know what to do.”
There are other differences on the court and outside basketball. Corey said Humphrey smiles more in practice this season and is more confident. She’s an outstanding passer and rebounder, and those attributes are consistently on display.
Erskine has been caught in a numbers game with the Maine Principals’ Association. The Eagles should be playing in Class B, because the school has about 600 students. But because Erskine had just over the cutoff when the MPA reclassified, Erskine plays in Eastern A this season, and is 0-13 this winter. In all likelihood, the Eagles will be back in Class B next season — after Humphrey has graduated.
“We’re obviously a pretty small school in Class A,” Humphrey said. “If we were in Class B, we’d be a pretty decent team. It’s not like we don’t have all the right things. It’s kind of tough when you’re playing (schools) with 1,300 kids to choose from, and 590 is what we have, something like that. But we’re trying.”
In all sports, the player who gives 100 percent no matter what the score is celebrated. Especially in basketball, an undersized player is almost always described as scrappy. Take someone tall and obviously athletic — like Humphrey — and if they aren’t playing well, many assume that it must be because he or she doesn’t want it badly enough.
For someone like Humphrey, those stereotypes are complicated. She admits that in the past, if she wasn’t playing well and it was obvious Erskine had no chance to win, the frustration with that got the better of her.
“Last year, and the year before, we talked: You stop playing hard, you’re coming out,” Corey said. “And she sat a lot. She didn’t like that. This year, she’s really gotten over that. She just plays.”
“This year, I think that’s part of how Coach thinks I’m maturing, because I can handle that a lot better this year,” Humphrey said. “I don’t just give up, and when I get frustrated, I keep trying, even though I know that we might not have the outcome we want.
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