Land Rover

Se­nior Lady War­rior shows ver­sa­til­ity on and off court

El Dorado News-Times - - Sports - By Tony Burns Sports Ed­i­tor

Can you pic­ture Lauren Land on a Di­vi­sion I row­ing squad? Ap­par­ently, Loy­ola-Mary­mount can.

The Los An­ge­les school, af­ter watch­ing a bas­ket­ball high­light film of the West Side Chris­tian ath­lete, gave her a call and a re­cruit­ing pitch.

“I guess they watched my film and saw what I looked like. They said my ath­letic body type was what they were look­ing for. I don’t know,” said Land, who had zero row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I got of­fered to be a walk-on. I was kind of shocked and con­fused. Part of me was like, ‘Whoa, what if I ac­tu­ally did this?’ I thought it was more hu­mor­ous than any­thing.”

Ac­tu­ally, it might not be so funny.

The 6-foot-1 se­nior has par­tic­i­pated in var­i­ous sports and shown a nat­u­ral ap­ti­tude in most of them, in­clud­ing soft­ball, track and field, gym­nas­tics and dance. Ev­ery­thing, she said, ex­cept golf.

If Land had cho­sen to pur­sue the row­ing op­por­tu­nity, there’s no telling where she might’ve docked. But, her pas­sion was and is squarely on the bas­ket­ball court, where she has led the Lady Warriors to a 11-3 record. Last year’s con­fer­ence Co-Player of the Year has av­er­aged 17.2 points and 8 re­bounds per game this sea­son.

“She’s re­ally taken an on-the-floor lead­er­ship role,” said West Side coach Ran­dall Miller. “A lot of the things we do de­fen­sively end up with her around the rim. She’s re­ally be­come a much bet­ter re­bounder. That has helped us a lot. That’s just some­thing she’s added to her game this year be­cause she knows we need it.”

De­spite her height, Land has al­ways been a perim-

eter player. She played guard for her sum­mer AAU team, the Ban­shees out of Lit­tle Rock.

“I tend to shoot more threes than I do post moves. I’m just more com­fort­able out there,” said Land.

Her coach lets her roam around the 3-point line but said she’s been will­ing to mix it up in the paint when asked.

“She doesn’t like play­ing down low a lot. It’s just not her fa­vorite place to play. But, there are times that’s the mis­match we need to ex­ploit. She knows do­ing it means win­ning so she’ll go do it,” said Miller.

“She has worked re­ally hard on her perimeter foot­work, squar­ing up and shoot­ing the ball. Early on, I would’ve pro­jected her to be down there on the block ex­cept she was one of our best perimeter de­fend­ers from early on.”

On and off the court, Land’s ver­sa­til­ity might be her big­gest as­set. In a pinch, she can play all five po­si­tions on the floor. This sea­son, in­juries have forced her to han­dle the bas­ket­ball more.

“She has not be­come the point guard. But, she does bring the ball up in key mo­ments,” said Miller. “If they’re put­ting pres­sure on us, she ro­tates back and helps bring the ball up. She’s be­come a re­ally good perimeter shooter. And,

she’s able to go down on the block and score. She can drive and fin­ish with ei­ther hand. So, re­ally she’s able to do, right now, what­ever we need.”

A stal­wart on West Side’s highly-suc­cess­ful vol­ley­ball squad, Land has al­ways been the con­sum­mate team player. Her at­ti­tude would fit in per­fectly on a cham­pi­onship row­ing crew.

She laughed think­ing about her in­ter­ac­tion with Loy­ola-Mary­mount.

“I prob­a­bly con­sid­ered it for a cou­ple of days,” she said. “I was talk­ing to Anna (Wil­liams) about it. She en­cour­aged me to pur­sue it be­cause she thought it would be funny and it would be awe­some to have a rower from our school.”

If the of­fer wasn’t all the way on the West Coast, would she have looked at it closer?

“Maybe, yeah. I am a home­body so that was part of it. I’m a South Arkansas girl. I don’t know how I’d fit in in LA,” she said.

For her fu­ture, Land is look­ing closer to home and def­i­nitely at a dif­fer­ent sport. That’s the phone call she’s await­ing.

“Right now, I would love to play in col­lege but I don’t have any of­fers,” she said. “My plan is, if I don’t get any of­fers, I’m go­ing to pur­sue an ac­count­ing de­gree at LA Tech in Rus­ton. But, if I got an of­fer, I would def­i­nitely be in­ter­ested “

Ter­rance Arm­stard/News-Times

Armed for de­fense: West Side Chris­tian's Lauren Land plays de­fense against Gar­rett Me­mo­rial this sea­son. The 6-foot-1 se­nior has played all five po­si­tions for the Lady Warriors this sea­son.

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