COLUMBIA — Hickman girls basketball coach Tonya Mirts’ voice has worn down after 19 years of coaching. She paces the sideline hollering plays, calling timeouts and giving strategy. But this season, there’s one phrase that she yells more than any other.
“Run Ashley! Run!” Mirts screams in her raspy voice.
She’s talking to senior center Ashley Davis. Davis is the Kewpies’ only true post player in the starting lineup, so keeping up with the four guards around her isn’t easy. When Mirts screams, Davis just puts her head down and keeps on chugging.
“They’re reminders. Constant reminders,” Mirts said. “It’s just that she beats a different drum. It’s a little slower.”
Saturday afternoon, Davis got the message. She led Hickman with 14 points in its 48-40 win over Jefferson City in the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.
“It felt great to kind of step up and be on the offense against a team that we knew we had to come out and be aggressive against,” Davis said. “It’s our biggest rival so that makes us feel even better.”
Davis started the game by making her first two shots, but after getting into early foul trouble, she sat the entire second quarter. Without her, the Kewpies' lead began to slip and Jefferson City gained momentum.
“I was anxious to come off the bench,” Davis said. “I was ready to play. I was sitting on the bench, looking, seeing, kind of learning what I could bring off the bench and see where we could do better. I think that kind of helped.”
While Jefferson City focused on stopping the Kewpies’ leading scorer, Aqua Corpening, Davis was able to expose the defense and score Hickman’s first eight points of the second half.
“It’s just huge,” Mirts said. “When they’re concentrating on our best scorers, you’ve got to have a kid that steps up. She’s a very physical person. It’s tough to move her from the basket. She uses that to her advantage.”
And she does it all with the same blank look on her face. After a pretty move in the post followed by a baby hook, no fist pumps or celebrations. Never even a smile.
“She doesn’t have a lot of experience,” Mirts said. “I think a lot of it is she’s trying to concentrate and make sure she does the right thing.”
It’s a personality flip-flop when she steps off the court. Davis’ coach and teammates say she’s one of the most outgoing girls when they’re just hanging out.
“I talk, I’m just not as loud as them,” Davis said. “Off the court I’m very loud and outgoing, but on the court I’m more laid back. If I see something going on I will step up and talk.”
But most the time, she just puts her head down and keeps on chugging.