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Basketball: Mom knows best – Guard uses advice to lead Northwest to playoffs

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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Alexus Brigham made an instant impact last season for the Northwest Lady Texans, averaging 10 points per game as a freshman and earning 4-5A and Wise County Newcomer of the Year.

“It was exciting,” Brigham recalled. “Everyone was like, ‘You’re a freshman on varsity. Freshmen are not supposed to be as good.’ I just showed what I can do.”

Headed to Post Season

HEADED TO POSTSEASON – With sophomore Alexus Brigham averaging 14 points, the Northwest Texans are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Brigham is averaging more than 18 points in her last eight games. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

That strong first year lifted expectations for Brigham this year. The sophomore admitted to feeling the weight of those expectations at the start of the year.

“A lot of people expected a lot out of me,” Brigham said. “I got frustrated a lot. I tried to keep my head up.”

Then around Christmas, Brigham took her game to a new level and helped the Northwest Lady Texans rebound from an 0-2 start in 5-6A to clinching their first playoff spot since 2009. She entered Tuesday’s regular season finale averaging 14.3 points. In her past eight games, she’s averaged 18.8 points along with five rebounds and 3.5 steals.

Brigham credits a little motherly advice for the improvement.

“I wasn’t scoring as much as I needed. My mom and I talked about it,” recalled Brigham, giving credit to mother Tashae Watson.

“At night, we regularly talk about what I can do better. She helps me with my confidence.”

Brigham poured in 20 Friday against Denton Ryan as the Lady Texans sealed the playoff berth to continue her recent tear.

Northwest coach Rusty Johnson points out there has been a difference in Brigham not only in games but practice since the start of the year.

“Her practices have been much better and she seems to be enjoying herself more,” Johnson said. “Maybe she was putting too much pressure on herself. She is now comfortable in her role. When you’re comfortable, you’re at your best.”

Johnson added that the entire team has accepted their roles, which has led to the 9-2 run in district since that 0-2 start.

“Everyone fit into their roles and are playing much better than at the beginning of December,” Johnson said. “Over the course of the season, you want to get better.”

Along increasing her scoring by four points over last year, Brigham has improved her decision-making. When her shots weren’t falling against Keller Timber Creek last week, she began attacking the lane and working her way to the free-throw line. She went to the line nine times, hitting seven free throws on her way to scoring 13 points in the 36-29 win.

She said that was following more advice from her mother.

“My mom said if my outside shot is not falling to drive,” Brigham said.

Johnson said that penetrating and working her way to the line is essential.

“She can be a legit 20-point scorer. But to get there, she has to be getting to the line eight to 10 times per game,” Johnson said.

While her offensive game has garnered headlines, Johnson points out she is playing even better on the defensive end.

“I think she’s a better defensive player than offensive,” he said. “The opposing team’s best player that’s who she’s guarding. Not many have had success against her.”

Brigham takes a lot of pride in her play on defense.

“Defense is our No. 1 thing. You get stops and then go score on offense,” she said.

Brigham is thrilled to be part of the Lady Texans’ first playoff team in six years, especially with how the team fought through some early adversity.

“It’s been exciting. Everyone around us didn’t believe in us,” Brigham said. “We came out with a bang [the second half]. We play hard every night. Even if we lose, we’re going to come out and fight.”

With two more years left, Brigham has lofty expectations for herself moving forward, including challenging for school records.

“Every year, I’ll have more expectations,” she said.

She expects to also get some motherly advice to help her along the way.

“It always does help,” Brigham said.

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