Even at the end of a long, hard practice, it’s difficult to slow Lydia Lawson down.
She shoots down the court like a lightning bolt, her feet firing in a frenzy and her rapid dribble pumping like a piston as Lawson unleashes a perfect strike of a pass across her body.
It finds an open teammate just outside the basket for what should be an easy jumper. But the coach, Chris Parker, is still yelling for the rest of the offense to keep moving.
Shifting into high gear, Lawson looks like the only one who hears him.
Or maybe she doesn’t.
Maybe this is just part of Lawson’s nature, to bring an uncanny, boundless energy that has driven the Holy Redeemer girls basketball team right back into the state playoffs this weekend.
“She’s full-speed ahead, all the time,” admired Parker, Redeemer’s second-year head coach. “She doesn’t like to come out of a game. And she’s developed true leadership for us.
“She’s one of the major reasons we’re successful.”
Let’s be clear.
All-everything Alexis Lewis carried the Royals to an unbeaten regular season, averaging 27 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Under the basket, 6-foot senior Alyssa Platko and 6-1 sophomore Rebecca Prociak present problems for teams trying to match up in the paint. And shooting guards Sara Flannley and Julie Kosik can be unstoppable when they get on 3-point shooting sprees.
But the little sophomore point guard who gets the ball to them all sometimes gets lost among the tall timbers underneath and the spotlight shining on Lewis from above.
“I know, as a coach, how important Lydia Lawson is to this basketball team,” Parker said. “People don’t appreciate the kid, because you’re not seeing her name in the scoring column for 20 points, or 12 rebounds. She’s a true point guard. She thrives off making the true pass.”
Not that Lawson cares much if most of the glory passes her by.
“I know my role,” the daughter of Eric and Laine Lawson of Mountain Top said. “It’s definitely important that I look to shoot the ball. But I’d rather be making a good pass and making everyone else look good. That’s much more important to me.”
The enthusiastic spirit and undying drive Lawson brings each day may be the most important components of a 21-5 Royals team that will face District 4 champ Mifflinburg in a PIAA Class 3A playoff opener at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Shikellamy Fieldhouse.
Redeemer may not have gotten there without her.
Against a super-fast Pittston Area team in the District 2 Class 3A third-place game, Lawson whizzed through a tight press defense that would have punished lesser players, and kept finding open teammates with passes that eventually allowed Redeemer to pull away with a 62-46 victory.
It’s not the first time this season the Royals leaned on their point guard to break an opponent’s back.
“It’s kind of just natural, as a point guard,” Lawson said, referring to her knack of working her way around obstacles without so much as slowing her step. “When I see a gap, I just take it.”
It didn’t take her long to get a feel for flying down the floor.
Her dad was a sharp-shooting guard and one of five Times Leader first-team Division II All-Stars in 1987 who led Hanover Area to the 1986-87 Division II title during his senior season by averaging more than 20 points per game.
His daughter isn’t quite such a scoring machine, although she did post nine double-figure scoring games this season and opened the District 2 playoffs by matching her season high of 13 points. But Eric Lawson didn’t forget what he learned about guard play, and passes plenty of it down to Lydia.
“My dad’s been my coach since I was very little,” Lydia Lawson said. “I always look to him for advice, and he tells me how to help the team. If I’m doing something wrong, he fixes it. My dad always gives me good advice.”
That’s been a good thing for Holy Redeemer.
“Teams don’t press us,” Parker said. “We might have had one, two teams that full-court pressed us this year. The reason they don’t press is Lydia Lawson. Her ability is something you can’t coach. Her father has worked with her all the way through, but Lydia’s just extremely gifted. She’s the best ball-handler on our team, and her left is just as strong as her right.
“She’s just a natural, God-given talent.”
Quite naturally, Lawson wants to go a little deeper into the state tournament this time around. The Royals lost in the second round of PIAA play last season, where Lawson had the first basket of the game and the last basket of the year — a leaner that pulled Redeemer within two points with under seven seconds to play in a 44-40 defeat to Villa Maria.
Most of that Redeemer team is back for this season, carrying high hopes after losing to five teams entering the PIAA playoffs this weekend — including three losses in overtime — by a combined total of 14 points.
“Last year, I was a freshman, so I was really excited we got that far,” Lawson said. “This year, we had the same talent, so we had the same potential. We’re all working really hard, because we know how much this means.”
If the Royals do make a deep state run this time around, it’ll probably mean their little engine is making them go again.
“I have heard that, it makes me feel really good,” Lawson said about the chatter in the stands regarding how well she plays the role of team catalyst. “That means I am doing my job.”