Right at the end of her senior year, Katajma Burrell's perseverance is starting to pay off.
Burrell, a 5-3 guard, made her first varsity start four games ago. Evidently, Burrell is doing something right — Bastrop is 4-0 since she joined the starting five.
"Katajma, for the last four games, has stepped in there and hit some key shots for us," Bastrop coach Emma Brooks said. "At times when we have really needed to score some baskets, Katajma has put those balls in the net for us."
Growing comfortable in the starting role, Burrell scored a career-high 12 points on Senior Night as the Lady Rams defeated West Ouachita 55-43 in the regular season finale.
"Her ball-handling skills haven't improved to where I would like for them to be, but her shooting has really helped us," Brooks said. "She doesn't like to handle the ball, so we try to put her in situations where she can shoot the open shot."
Since breaking into the starting lineup, Burrell has unleashed some offensive moves that left her coach stunned.
"Katajma has really shown some improvement this year. I really believe that Katajma has set out to prove to me that she could do more than I was seeing in practice and she's done that," Brooks said.
"She's taken the ball down the baseline and made some plays that have had me going, 'Is that Katajma doing that?'"
Brooks is glad to see Burrell, who juggled cheerleading and basketball for two years, rewarded for her efforts.
"I admire her because she's stuck it out. She didn't get a lot of playing time last year. To stick it out with all the practices and everything she's had to go through in practice says a heck of a lot about her," Brooks said. "She's been doing a great job for us. She's an asset to the team."
BDE: When did you start playing basketball?
Katajma Burrell: When I was in the eighth grade at Delta. Ms. (Kathy) Moses was our coach.
BDE: What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of basketball?
Burrell: My favorite part would be playing in the game and shooting free throws.
My least favorite part is running in practice and sweating. I hate sweating.
BDE: What has been the key to Lady Rams' improved guard play of late?
Burrell: I think most of us are more confident in our shot and our dribbling skills are getting better.
BDE: What is it going to take for the Lady Rams to make a run in the playoffs?
Page 2 of 3 - Burrell: I think we need to improve on our boxing out and rebounding and we need to be more patient running our plays and play better defense.
BDE: Has winning the last four regular season games given the Lady Rams some momentum going into the playoffs?
Burrell: I feel like we're playing all right, but we could play better and do more things to improve to get past the first round of the playoffs.
BDE: How exciting was it for you to have your best offensive game (a career-high 12 points) on Senior Night?
Burrell: I was motivated with it being Senior Night and having family watching. I thought about it being my last senior home game, so I felt like I needed to step up.
BDE: How much fun has it been to start the last few games?
Burrell: At first I thought I wasn't ever going to start because I needed to improve on my dribbling skills and my shot. Since I've been starting, I've done OK, but I could do better.
I wish I would have done better at the beginning of the year so I could have started then instead of so late in the season.
BDE: What was your reaction when coach Brooks told you that you were about to draw your first varsity start?
Burrell: At first, I was nervous because I thought I would mess up. After coach Brooks told me I was starting, I didn't want to mess up and lose my starting spot, so I did what I could to continue to start.
BDE: Do you miss cheerleading?
Burrell: I do, sort of miss it. I knew this was my last year and a lot of my friends are cheerleaders. I wanted to keep cheering, but the expenses were too much, so I decided to just play basketball.
Last year, I would play in the girls game and cheer in the boys game. It was kind of complicated, trying to balance both.
BDE: What are you going to miss the most about playing high school basketball?
Burrell: I'm going to miss my teammates the most and just playing high school basketball, period. After high school, I don't plan on playing in college.
BDE: What part of the Mu Sigma trip are you looking forward to the most?
Burrell: I am most looking forward to going shopping in New York and seeing Times Square at night.
BDE: What are your future plans?
Page 3 of 3 - Burrell: I plan on going to ULM and majoring in business. I would like to become a computer technologist or an accountant.
BDE: How did you become interested in the computer tech and accounting fields?
Burrell: I like computers and I know I love money. If I become an accountant, I could manage my money and budget it better.