By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
NARROWS, Va. —
Her point production is down from last season, but Tiffany Perdue isn’t going to complain.
After all, the wins are up. That matters most to the three-sport senior standout at Narrows.
“I would rather us win more games than it being me scoring more points because it is a more of a team effort,” Perdue said. “With having Shelby (Baker) down there with me, it has been working out really well.”
How so? Perdue scored at least 20 points in more than half of Narrows’ games last season, but the Green Wave won a total of four games. The addition of Baker, a talented freshman, has helped upped that to eight wins, and nearly double the amount of points for the club.
“She actually hasn’t shot as much either, she probably had 12 or 14 games over 20 points a game last year,” Narrows head coach Wayne Gautier said. “This year it has slacked off a little bit with another scoring threat and our record is better and our average is up to about 65 points a game.”
Perdue, a four-year contributor on the hardwood for Narrows, was especially productive last week, scoring 33 points in a pair of wins over Eastern Montgomery and Bland County, 32 of which came in the second half.
That led to a pair of wins for the Green Wave (8-7), and also helped Perdue claim the Pocahontas Coal Association/Bluefield Daily Telegraph Player of the Week award, the first in four years at Narrows.
“Wayne called me today during school and said I had won it and I was pleased with it,” said Perdue, with a smile. “I really was.”
It was well-earned. Gautier knows, having first observed her on the court during his role as director of the local parks and recreation department.
“I have seen them all, I get a first hand look at all of them when they are about kindergarten or first grade,” Gautier said. “I remember when she first started over there as a third grader and seeing them finish their career, it is sad to see them go on, but somebody else will step in.
“She has worked hard and she is deserving of it.”
It has been a long ride for Perdue from a wide-eyed freshman with a fondness for shooting the 3s to currently being around 130 points from reaching 1,000 for her career.
“My freshman year I would do nothing, but shoot 3s,” said the 5-foot-6 Perdue. “I felt tiny compared to all the other girls, now I am driving more to the basket and my outside game is getting there, but still not where it should be.”
That isn’t because of a lack of effort. Gautier still recalls when Perdue made her first impact for his squad four years ago.
“It shows how far she has come,” Gautier said. “We moved her up midseason her ninth grade year and she had 20 points against James Monroe at our Christmas tournament, actually came in there and won the game for us with three or four big shots there.
“At the time the plan was to just play her in that tournament and after she got out there, we knew, we were just trying to hold her back.”
It didn’t work.
“She is close to 1,000 points, she may or may not get it,” Gautier said. “We have got seven games left, but everybody was always focused on her in the past and now we have got a little bit more of a threat where she gets a little bit more of a free reign.
“She is not shooting as much, but our team record overall, we are already at eight wins, last year it was four. It is about the team, she is a good team player, her and Shelby are working well together.”
Especially last week when the Green Wave needed it most, including scoring 17 points in an overtime win over Eastern Montgomery, all of which came in the second half. Baker also had 30 points and 20 rebounds for Narrows.
“It was a tough game, we wasn’t expecting them to be much compared to what we played them the first time, but they really stepped up,” Perdue said. “They have gotten a whole lot better, which is what you expect teams to do is get better as the season goes on.
“With Shelby coming in and scoring big with 30 points and 20-some rebounds, that helps a lot.”
That was followed a few nights later with a hard-fought win over Bland County in a game played in the tight quarters of Rocky Gap High School.
Even seniors with experience get the jitters at times.
“I don’t normally get nervous before games, but I was actually really nervous before that game just because the whole gym was packed,” Perdue said. “Looking into the stands you could see that everybody was watching you.”
After a shaky first half for the Green Wave, Narrows stepped up when the Bears continued to focus their efforts on Baker. Perdue scored 15 of her 16 points in the second half.
“I felt like I had to do more than what I normally do just because Shelby wasn’t doing as much, but Shelby is an all-around player,” said Perdue, who also plays volleyball and softball, and hopes to play volleyball next fall at UVa-Wise. “She can do it all and me and her really work well together.”
Perdue can also be termed an all-around threat. She is averaging 14.7 points a game, along with 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals. She is hitting 68 percent from the free throw line, and 42 percent from the field.
She is still eyeing that 1,000 point mark, and hopes a long postseason run beginning in the Conference 45 tournament in a couple of weeks will assist in that quest.
“I think we can get a whole lot better, every team we face I think we can beat,” Perdue said. “We have the potential to beat anybody we play.”
Every game means one less opportunity participate on the court for Perdue, whose cousin, Rodney, is also a three-sport senior standout at Narrows.
She wants it to last for a while longer.
“I am kind of upset about it being over, but I am glad I have been able to play basketball here for four years,” said Perdue, with a smile. “It is a big accomplishment.”
—Contact Brian Woodson
Player of Week Honorable Mention
Bland County (0-1, during week): Amber Eaton, 10 points vs. Narrows, Malee Lambert, 9 points.
Graham (1-1): Lexi Kiser, 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals vs. Galax; Jia Coppola, 23 points in 2 games; Dejah Carter, 20 points in 2 games.
Grundy (1-0): Morgan Hall, 19 points, 10 rebounds vs. Twin Valley; Paige Owens, 10 points, 19 rebounds; Autumn Sperry, 10 points.
Narrows (2-0): Shelby Baker, 42 points in 2 games; 30 points, 20 rebounds vs. Eastern Montgomery.
Richlands (2-0): Brittany Allen, 56 points, 39 vs. Graham, Sarah Compton, 23 points in 2 games, Montana Hearl, 17 points vs. Lebanon; Olivia Harmon, 11 points vs. Lebanon.
River View (1-0): Katie Dobbs, 15 points vs. Beckley Christian.
Tazewell (1-0): Whitney Saunders, 12 points vs. Marion, Autumn Hash, 12 points.
Twin Valley (0-1): Kara Goodman, 14 points; Alexis Vance, 12 points.
Week 1: Morgan Hall, Grundy
Week 2: Brandy Morrison, Summers County
Week 3: Lexi Kiser, Graham
Week 4: Lyndsay Hatfield, PikeView
Week 5: Shelby Baker, Narrows
Week 6: Brittany Allen, Richlands
Week 7: Whitney Saunders, Tazewell
Week 8: Tiffany Perdue, Narrows