For L.C. Bird High’s girls basketball, it’s been more of the same this year – success in the face of whatever circumstances arise. Led... Pressure defense, high energy nets Skyhawks success
Jaden Watkins

For L.C. Bird High’s girls basketball, it’s been more of the same this year – success in the face of whatever circumstances arise.

Led in part by sisters Kielle and Kiyah Shaw’s defensive prowess, the Skyhawks have jumped out to a 7-1 start despite playing without last year’s leading scorer, Mya Coleman, who is lost for the season, and Kameron Brown, another important offensive player.

“We don’t have a secret that we live by at Bird. Everyone asks what our secret is,” head coach Chevette Waller said. “The girls buy into what we do. They know that defense is going to win the games, not offense, and that good defense is going to lead to easy offense. They really hone in to what we ask them to do.”

They say that defense wins championships, but it never receives the accolades that offense does. For the Shaw girls, it seems that their play ignites the rest of the team, setting them up for success.

“If the Shaw girls play with great energy, then they are going to (have a) great night,” Waller said. “Our team feeds off that energy with them scrapping for ‘50-50 balls,’ getting on the floor and getting the crowd into it with how hard they play.”

The dynamic duo that’s full of hustle is Kyiah, a 5 foot, 4 inch senior, and Kielle, who stands at about 5 feet and who affectionately earned the nickname “Munch” during her childhood for sampling food from her friends’ plates.

“I play hard defense, knowing that it will help my teammates turn those stops into points,” Kiyah said. “Whether it’s an assist or hustling for a rebound to give us a second opportunity to score, I just play really hard.”

“I just go out and hustle,” Kielle said. “On the defensive end, I go after it as much as I can trying to get steals or force the other team to make turnovers. Overall, I just play really aggressively and try to outwork everyone on the floor.”

Statistically speaking, the sisters account for six steals per game while making an average of just three turnovers combined. Despite their size, Kielle averages 4.6 rebounds per game, while Kiyah averages 4.

That energy, combined with their teammates’ defensive energy, feeds the offense, which is led by seniors Jaden Watkins and Jayla Henderson.

Watkins is having a career year, averaging 17 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals per contest. Henderson is averaging about 13 points per game, and has played the role of lead scorer at times this year.

Senior center Jade Wilson, a transfer, has adjusted well to L.C. Bird’s fast pace, averaging nine points and six rebounds per contest. She provides good size on a roster that lacks it.

Sophomore Alexis Miller has shown good shooting ability. While she doesn’t have the experience of some of the other girls on the roster, has excelled at rebounding, battling in the lane.

With many things going right for the Skyhawks, it’s all for the better as they enter a particularly rough stretch this week with James River and Cosby.

Further ahead, they will play those teams, along with Monacan and Manchester, a second time, along with typically competitive teams in Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Edison and possibly a makeup game with Surry, the state runner-up in Class 1 last season.

The good news is that they could get Brown back in the next two or three weeks.

More good news is that players who wouldn’t have gotten as much playing time are gaining valuable experience that the Skyhawks will need as they push toward their ultimate destination – a state championship.