Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

February 11, 2014

Gravely a big part of BSC’s revival

BLUEFIELD — For the past four basketball seasons a mainstay for the Bluefield State College Lady Blues has been a product of Bluefield High School.

Lawanna “Shay” Gravely turned in her Lady Beavers maroon and white for the gold and blue of Bluefield State. For Gravely, the decision to attend her hometown college was a rational one that involved the classroom more than the court.

“At first I thought I wanted to go away (to college), but then I kind of waned to stay close to home so I wouldn’t have to pay as much money,” Gravely said. “I thought it would be best getting an education where classes were smaller... if I needed help, in a bigger class I wouldn’t get it if I went to a bigger college. I just wanted to stay close.”

Gravely’s arrival at BSC came at the same time as someone else in the women’s hoops program, current head coach J.J. Oliver.

“My mom and I came over and talked to Coach O and that’s when we decided on Bluefield State,” Gravely said.

Another fixture at Lady Blues games home and away the past four seasons has been Shay’s mother, Kim Webster.

“It’s been a good experience (playing at BSC), especially since my family gets to come see me play and I like playing for Coach O,” Gravely said.

Basketball came at an early age for Gravely, who has basketball in her genes.

Her  mother played hoops at Bluefield High School. Her father, Paul Gravely, played at Bluefield State and her uncle, Tony Webster, is a long-time assistant at BHS, an AAU mentor and former head coach of the West Virginia Blazers of the ABA.

“My uncle helped me out. I played rec league and he was out there and got me started, going to basketball camps that he or the high school would have.

“I even came to Bluefield State’s basketball camp too, when I was younger, when the former coach was here,” Gravely said. “My mom and my uncle pushed me to play basketball.”

For most of her first three years at BSC, Gravely was known mostly for her strong defensive play. While she could score when needed, it was defense for which she was known.

This season the defense remains, but she has increased her scoring, averaging 9.8 per game, second on the team. Gravely is shooting 33 percent from behind the 3-point line and averages two assists per game.

Defensively this season, Gravely has 37 steals in 20 games and pulls down 3.3 rebounds a contest for the Lady Blues, who are winners of seven in a row and have an 11-9 record after beginning the season with five consecutive losses. Since the calendar turned to 2014, however, the Lady Blues have not lost a game.

“The slow start was round and frustrating because we were working hard in practice. We just didn’t understand why we couldn’t get the job done,” Gravely said. “Then, Coach O made some changes and I think that helped us in 2014 to get more wins.

“We were in close games but we weren’t finishing, not closing out the game. We would foul teams, put people on the line.”

Gravely looked back over her career at BSC.

“My freshman year we were 3-27. We only had seven girls because when Coach O came here, it was too late, I guess, to bring more girls in,” Gravely said. “My sophomore year we did a bit more recruiting and we were getting better. By my junior year we were at the .500 mark, 13-13.

“It was better because we had a lot more recruits and we had a lot more people to play with who were disciplined and listened to Coach O and the program rules to get it better.”

Post-season play is not out of the question at the current time for the Lady Blues. That would come in the form of the ECAC tournament.

To qualify, Bluefield State must have a winning record against NCAA Division II teams.

“This year we started off slow, but we have gotten better each game,” Gravely said. “We’ve just got to keep picking it up, especially if we want to get in the post-season, to play in the tournament.”

Gravely, a social science and psychology major, has sort of an idea of what she would like to do when she finishes her education.

“I wouldn’t mind being a sports counselor, but I’m not sure yet,” Gravely said.

Gravely and the Lady Blues have three games remaining in the regular season.

They play tonight, weather permitting at WVU Tech in Montgomery, host Oakland City on Saturday and visit Francis Marion in Florence, S.C., next Tuesday.

— Contact Bob Redd at

bredd@bdtonline.com

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