The Laurel High girls basketball team entered last week looking to build playoff momentum.
Regan Atkins made sure the Lady Spartans achieved that goal.
Atkins, a 5-foot-9 sophomore guard, scored 36 total points in two wins last week.
For her efforts, Atkins was named the Lawrence County Athlete of the Week, as voted on by the New Castle News sports staff.
A daughter of Todd and Theresa Atkins, Regan opened the week by netting 16 points in a 58-45 home win over Beaver Falls. She followed that up with 20 markers, seven rebounds and five steals in a 49-44 road victory over defending WPIAL Class 3A champion Mohawk. Both games were Section 1-3A contests.
“She had a heck of a performance for us last week, especially against Mohawk,” Laurel coach Matt Stebbins said. “She had a phenomenal game against Mohawk; it was a big win for us and the program.”
The Lady Warriors picked up a 62-51 win over Laurel on Jan. 18 on the Lady Spartans’ home floor. Mohawk was looking for the season sweep and to solidify second place in the section heading into the playoffs.
Instead, Atkins helped lead Laurel to a five-point road win en route to a 9-2 section mark. North Catholic won the league championship at 9-0 and Mohawk was 7-3.
Atkins was 8 for 10 from the foul line, all of which coming in the fourth quarter as the Lady Spartans closed out the win.
“She did a little of everything against Mohawk,” Stebbins said. “She was close to double-digit rebounds. She had to take over at point guard when Danielle Pontius fouled out.
“It was great to see her step up and play outside of her comfort zone. Regan hit two 3s and she was taking the ball to the rim hard throughout the game.”
In that matchup against Mohawk, Lady Warriors sharpshooter Paige Julian went over 1,000 career points. Atkins guarded Julian in that game and Julian finished with 14 markers.
“Regan didn’t let that affect her,” Stebbins said. “Our players have great respect for Mohawk. She played great defense.”
Atkins is averaging 14.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season.
“She’s playing very well for us,” Stebbins said. “She’s doing what our team needs her to do; she’s playing multiple positions.
“She’s guarding the best player night in and night out and she’s doing a lot of the little things for us. Regan is starting to step up as a leader. We have a young team as a whole.”
Stebbins noted Atkins delivers in many ways for Laurel.
“Regan does a little bit of everything,” Stebbins said. “She can take the ball to the rim hard. In the second half of the season, she’s shooting the ball so much better; she’s playing (shooting) guard for us and point guard at times.
“She’s doing what the team needs her to do to win the game. That’s the most important thing for her. This group as a whole, they want to win. They will do what it takes to win. It’s a rare thing to find in a player.”
Last year as a freshman, Atkins tallied a team-best 12.6 points, with 8.2 rebounds, 4.8 steals and 4.5 assists a contest.
“She’s made tremendous improvements to her game,” Stebbins said. “She grew quite a bit and that helps.
“She works hard in the offseason. She’s a student of the game and she puts the work in.”
The fourth-seeded Lady Spartans (16-2) will open the Class 3A playoffs against 13th-seeded McGuffey (6-6) at 6 p.m. Wednesday on Laurel’s home floor. The Lady Spartans reached their first WPIAL championship game last year in program history, falling to Bishop Canevin, 50-41, in Class 2A. Laurel lost in the opening round of the state playoffs, 55-51 to Bellwood Antis.