No ‘Big 3’ at Eastern Commerce

Eastern Commerce’s Bilie Grant, Sami Hill and Vaneil Simpson have guided their senior girls basketball team to a 9-2 start, but don’t call them the Big Three.

The Lady Saints are nothing like the Miami Heat with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh running the offence.

Hill believes it’s more of an entire team effort that has helped Eastern Commerce rather than just the trio.

“I don’t think it’s a Big Three,” Hill said. “I think it’s a Big 12 or 13 because we all have a significant role on the team and it’s working out pretty well so far.”

Grant credits the Lady Saints’ ability to come together as the reason for their success so far and thinks it just depends on who’s having a good game on that particular day.

“There’s no real selfishness on the team,” Grant said. “There can be a different leading scorer every game and everyone’s okay with it as long as we win, which is a really good team to be on.”

Eastern Commerce has spread the offence during its terrific season. Simpson and Tekima Rowe both had 18 points in the team’s 86-17 win over Jarvis on Sept. 28, while Grant scored 24 in their 72-61 double overtime victory over Michael Power/St. Joseph on Oct. 1.

On Tuesday, Hill led Eastern Commerce with 22 points during the team’s 96-40 shellacking of Oakwood.

But off all their games, there was one team the Lady Saints were looking forward to the most: Ajax’s Notre Dame. Eastern Commerce has had trouble with Notre Dame in the past but the Lady Saints came up big on the road with a 62-57 victory on Sept. 29.

“For the last two years, Notre Dame had beaten us and it was like a weight off their shoulders, like they could finally climb over the mountain and beat this Notre Dame team,” head coach Kareem Griffin said. “In terms of positive energy, there was a lot that came off of that.”

Grant had 14 points and said it was great with the crowd cheering against them.

“A lot of people came into the game not to see us win,” Grant said. “A lot of games we go to, we don’t have a really big fanbase but it feels really good to have the whole crowd against you and you’re in somebody else’s gym who figures they’re going to beat you.”

With the season successes, Griffin said the team has brought a lot of energy and it was a far different atmosphere at this point last year.

“We were very disorganized and girls didn’t know the rules,” Griffin said. “The energy definitely wasn’t as positive.”

Hill agrees that things are a lot better this year.

“I think we’re progressing really well actually,” Hill said. “We still have a lot of work to do but we’re better than before.”

Griffin added there’s still a lot of work left to do as the regular season winds down and the team prepares for the playoffs.

“It’s not about reaching the number one spot, it’s about maintaining it now,” Griffin said. “In terms of doing that, we’ve got a lot of work to do.

“We have a lot of meshing left to do. They need to know each other better on the floor. Off the floor, they pretty much know each other’s personalities, they just have to translate it to on the floor.”