NEW CASTLE —
Shelby Brown, flustered and teary-eyed, was overwhelmed.
The year was 2010 and Brown, then a sophomore at Mohawk High School, was given starting point guard duties for the girls basketball team.
“A lot of people, when they make mistakes, they get down and they don’t hustle back on defense. They don’t do anything right and they get all mad at themselves. That was my sophomore year,” Brown said. “I was bad at that. I was getting dogged because I was the little point guard. There were times when (teammate) Brooke Shasteen, she was a post player, had to bring the ball up the court because I was in tears. I was a mental wreck my 10th grade year.”
Undersized, outplayed and lacking confidence, it looked like Brown was anything but the answer for the team’s anchor position for the next two seasons.
“She had a lot of struggles, as most sophomores do,” Lady Warriors coach Mike O’Lare said. “She had two options — she could put ball down and give up, or she could get back to work.”
Brown didn’t put her ball down, in fact, it may not have even left her hands for the next two seasons.
Fast-forward to present day. Through those two years of the coaching, the practices, the hard work, the dedication, the heart, the desire, and you’ll get the Shelby Brown of today — all-star, MVP, and this year’s Lawrence County female athlete of the year, as selected by the New Castle News sports staff.
TO THE TOP
Brown didn’t exactly take the WPIAL by surprise this season. Though the game seemed like too much for her at times her sophomore year, she had the talent and the determination to excel. Signs of improvement were visible in her junior season, when she led all of Lawrence County with 77.8 free-throw shooting, established a career high in scoring (11.5 points a game), eighth in the county, and was seventh with 30 3-pointers.
Still, there was something missing. Something that wouldn’t surface for another year.
“The mental aspect from junior to senior year was what separated her,” O’Lare said. “In her sophomore and junior seasons, she had physical limitations she had to work through. It really was a three-year transition for her from sophomore to senior year.”
With a lineup composed of seven varsity seniors, the team’s goal for the 2012-2013 season was a Section 2-AA championship or bust, an objective not reached since 2001.
Mohawk opened play winning seven of its first eight contests with Brown, one of those seniors, quickly establishing herself as a dominant force on the court.
She put up 31 points against Wilmington in a 66-31 victory, swishing six 3-pointers. She added 20, 27 and 23 points against section opponents Neshannock, Laurel and Beaver Falls during that span.
The word was out on Brown, and teams were having difficulty adjusting to her talents.
The girl who left games in tears in her sophomore year, now was leaving her opponents the same way.
“She put in a ton of time to become the player that she is and was this year,” O’Lare said. “A lot of people on the outside might not realize how much other teams game planned for her and how much better she had to play with her shot, touches and giving the ball up. She was also more highly scouted, and teams were trying to shut her down more.”