As the point guard and the first line of defense, Kristen Oliphant runs the show for the Prairie View Lady Spartans. Oliphant's effectiveness can be measured by the Lady Spartans' 22-5 record (7-0 in district).
"Kristen Brooke's our general," Prairie View coach Ed Bain said. "She's been our spark plug. She runs the offense and she's out front on the press. When she's on, she's hard to stop."
One such instance occurred at Riverdale on Jan. 25.
"When we went to Riverdale, Kristen Brooke had 18 points and four 3-pointers in the first half," Bain recalled.
Oliphant is far more than a scorer for the Lady Spartans.
"Even is she doesn't score, she's a real good passer and can steal the ball," said Bain, the school's principal who returned to the bench last season. "She's been my point guard both years and she does a real good job. She's a competitor. She tries a little too hard sometimes, but I would rather have that than have somebody that didn't want to be out there."
As the only two seniors on the team, Oliphant and Tori Simmons are counted on to provide a veteran presence.
"Kristen Brooke and Tori are our senior leaders and co-captains," Bain said.
BDE: When did you start playing basketball?
Kristen Oliphant: I started playing when I was at Beekman in the first grade. We used to have intramurals.
BDE: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of basketball?
Oliphant: My least favorite would be losing.
My favorite would be winning as a team and being a family with all these girls.
BDE: What is the biggest improvement you have made since your sophomore year?
Oliphant: Probably my decision-making as far as knowing which plays to run. I think I've gotten better at recognizing what's a good pass and what's not and what's a good play to run and what's not.
BDE: What improvements do the Lady Spartans need to make as a team with the playoffs approaching?
Oliphant: We're not playing like we should be playing right now. We need to be more serious in practice.
BDE: What are your team and individual goals for the remainder of the season?
Oliphant: My only goal is to go to state and go as far as we can. As long as we get to state, I really don't care about anything else.
BDE: Who is a young player to watch in the future for the Lady Spartans?
Page 2 of 2 - Oliphant: Amery Clark has helped us a lot since she's been here. She's been able to step in and give us starters a rest.
Bekah Lenard has been improving since day one. When she decides to be serious, she's going to be good.
BDE: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
Oliphant: Just being around all these girls. We went to Brookhaven and stayed together in a motel for two days. Then we had a sleepover at Chemin-A-Haut a week after we got back from Brookhaven.
This is the best team we've had since I've been here as far as everybody getting along. We don't have clicks and we don't have problems with people not getting along. We're all together.
BDE: Tell us about your experience at the All-Star softball game.
Oliphant: It was a lot of fun. I met a lot of people and got to play with some kids who are really good.
BDE: Outside of basketball, what is something you hope to accomplish during your senior year?
Oliphant: I want to be the valedictorian.
BDE: What sport would you like to try?
Oliphant: Probably volleyball or soccer. I like team sports more than individual sports.
BDE: What do you like best about attending Prairie View?
Oliphant: You know everybody since it's a small school. I went here for pre-k, went to Beekman in grades 1-6 and came back here my seventh grade year. This is home to me.
BDE: What are your future plans?
Oliphant: I plan on going to ULM and majoring in kinesiology, then going to OT (occupational therapy) school. ULM's opening up an OT program. They have an OT assistant's program now, but by the time I get there, they will have OT.
BDE: Why OT?
Oliphant: I guess because I like helping people. I want to work with kids because I love kids.