HERTFORD — There must be an answer to Shavona Coston’s scoring spike this season, a jump that has seen the senior Perquimans girls basketball player go from a 10-point average to 17.5 points a game.
Good luck finding it in Coston’s offseason work. There was none.
“To be honest, I didn’t work on anything,” Coston said. “I haven’t really been doing much. I haven’t touched the ball until now.
“But when I touch the ball, I’m ready to play.”
And her offensive readiness has helped propel the Lady Pirates to a 9-2 record and 2-0 in the Four Rivers Conference, the best mark for coach Eddie Fields so far in his third season.
Coston’s recent tear began with a 19-point performance against Columbia on Dec. 14. It included a 9-for-12 effort at the free throw line.
Then came a horde of 20-plus outputs, alternating from 24 points (vs. South Creek in Perquimans’ FRC opener), to a combined 76 points through the South Creek Christmas Tournament and into last Friday’s win against league foe Northside.
Coston had 26 against Creswell, then 24 in a South Creek rematch, then upped it to 26 again facing the Lady Panthers at home.
Maybe this laissez-faire approach isn’t such a bad thing.
“(I’ve just been) sitting around the house and being lazy. I don’t play any other sports,” Coston said. “But it’s my senior year, so I’m going to try and do as much as I can. It’s not really a focus, but I do take basketball seriously.”
Fields might wonder about Coston’s hoops habits away from school, but knows she must touch the ball as much as possible now.
“The last two years I’ve had her, she’s averaged 10 points a game and always been a 3-point threat,” Fields said. “For some reason this year, we changed a few things, so we go to her a lot, and the team finds her a lot. She’s done a really good job driving the ball on her side and finishing or getting fouled, and then she hits her free throws.”
Against Northside, Coston was hacked repeatedly, but brushed it off through converting 17 of 21 free throws. Her charity stripe average has also jumped to 80 percent.
Perquimans’ up-tempo play also allows for more scoring opportunities, although Coston has played in the system the past few seasons. While she still counts on her outside shot to be her best weapon — she has hit one in every game so far and four against Mattamuskeet on Nov. 27 — Fields said she’s become more versatile.
For anyone who would counter that Coston’s play has come against weaker competition such as Columbia and Creswell, Fields points to her points against FRC teams that the Lady Pirates struggled to beat or just compete with a year ago. That’s where the improvement is seen, not from shooting hoops at random.
It could be any number of Perquimans players who might have this string of success, such as Sarah Marriner or Tykia Wood, but it’s become Coston’s time.
“She always had the outside shot since she was in rec ball, but now she’s much more efficient if they take that away, then she can go to the hole and get scored or get fouled,” Fields said. “That’s the difference.
“We don’t particularly have any AAU girls basketball players here, and that’s why I frequently say we don’t have the superstar. But she plays within what system we do run, and we try to play good defense, rebound well and push it.
“We need her to score 15-20 points a game, now 24 is great, but that’s her role and job. She is emerging as a star, but it would be hard for her to do that without everyone else doing their role.”
Coston said she is surprised at her efficiency, but won’t change her focus when it comes to basketball — especially when the season is done.
“If somebody would call and ask me if I want to play, then I’ll play, but it’s not an everyday thing,” Coston said. “But I love basketball.”