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Lockport's Cheatham doesn’t let her team down

LOCKPORT - So far, so good, for Alexis Cheatham this season.

Coming into the new season, Cheatham, a senior on the Lockport Lady Lions basketball team, knew that she would be assuming a much bigger role as the starting point guard.

And she hasn’t let her team down yet.

“I think she likes the role that she’s playing right now and I think she’s doing it pretty well,” Lions coach Bill Shaw said. “Is there a lot of room for improvement? Oh yeah. But it’s kinda of nice to have a kid who is scoring the way she’s scoring and the coach says there’s a lot of room for improvement. And I think that she realizes it too. That she can be better.”

Cheatham doesn’t hesitate for a second to agree with her coach’s assessment of the way she has played to date and that she can do even more for the team.

Shaw explained that Cheatham is aware that she can still get better, she has seen marked improvement, especially on the defensive side of her game.

Now in her third season of varsity, Cheatham saw decent minutes last season, but just as important as her time on the court was the fact Cheatham was able to get some on the job training watching, playing and practicing against Patti Burdick and how she ran the point.

“I learned a lot from Patti,” Cheatham said.”Passing, defense, being a leader.”

With increased playing time there also comes the challenge of dealing with the potential of more mental and physical stress.

“It’s more mentally, I would say,” Cheatham explained. “You’re in shape and the running (isn’t a challenge).”

Knowing that more would be on her shoulders this season, Cheatham used the time over the summer with her AAU team, Baseline Elite out of Buffalo, to sharpen her skills. Cheatham said the kick up in competition served as the perfect primer as she prepared for the more demanding varsity season.

“Playing with better players and against people from other cities,” she said.

Shaw stated that while Cheatham’s game has vastly improved, her greatest contribution has been in the fact that her play in general has had a ripple effect that has made all of her teammates better at what they do.

“The one thing that she does, that nobody else on our team can do is she can make other players on our team better,” Shaw said.

“Nobody else on our team has the ability to do that yet. When she’s doing that she’s absolutely at her best, and she knows that.”

Shaw hit the mark dead center. Cheatham not only brings the threat of a nice outside shot, the way she runs the floor, reads defenses, spreads the ball to all teammates and dishes quick passes, she keeps the Lions offense in constant motion.

“I get more of a thrill out of assists,” Cheatham said with a smile.

For Cheatham telling her she makes others better is the kind of compliment that makes her day and find satisfaction in her play. Team-first all the way Cheatham would much rather set a teammate up for a bucket then grab the two points herself.

“The ball’s in her hands an awful lot,” said Shaw. “So my expectations of her are really high. If I’m gonna give her that kind of responsibility, she better come through. And so far she has. I can’t say I’m disappointed. I like what she’s done so far. In her individual game and as a teammate.”

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