In a game earlier this season against John Carroll, Pallotti Coach Rod Hairston witnessed his senior center Beverly Ogunrinde make one of the best plays he’d seen in 17 years of high school coaching. The 6-foot-2 Ogunrinde blocked a shot, and then saved the ball from going out of bounds, which started a fast break. Then she trailed the play to the other end of the floor, grabbed an offensive rebound and completed the sequence with a put-back layup.
The play spoke to the versatility of the James Madison recruit who is playing the best basketball of her career this winter. Hairston relies on her long frame in the post, but he sometimes relies on her to play point guard and shooting guard. She has routinely played multiple positions in single games, and has led Pallotti (12-6, 8-4) to four straight wins, and six in its last eight games.
“They’re playing with a little bit of synergy now,” Hairston said.
Ogunrinde has been playing basketball for just four years, and as a junior, her game didn’t include a reliable jump shot. But she was continually one of the hardest working players in the offseason for the Panthers, which included tireless focus on pulling up and working for jumpers off of screens.
“I was really, really tired of people telling me that I had potential. Because potential can only take you so far,” Ogunrinde said. “I got in the gym every day in the summer and worked on my handle and I worked on my shot.”
That is the most notable addition to her play this winter, according to Hairston, and she certainly has talented pieces around her. Guard Kiaya Coleman (13.3 points per game) and small forward Io Chaney, who has averaged 12.5 points in the team’s last two wins and had 12 rebounds apiece in crucial wins over Spalding and Mercy (Balt.) earlier this month.
Ogunrinde, who is averaging 15.1 points and about 12 rebounds per game, said the team’s turnaround from early-season struggles simply comes down to rebounding. The Panthers lost three of its first four games, but have since won quality games over Spalding, Holy Cross and Stonewall Jackson, three teams that boast stellar post players.
“I do feel like I have to carry the load for my team. I actually really appreciate that my team trusts me with that,” Ogunrinde said. “It just makes me work harder.”