Allen plays to win every time

Saturday, July 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:58 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Natalia Allen only knows one way of how to play her favorite sport, basketball: hard. The name of the game is intimidation for Natalia who is always putting forth her best effort. Allen plays with aggression, intensity and effort game in and game out. She is simply known for it and expected to exhibit it. Natalia Allen, 13, is a player that gives her all, all the time.

“I sometimes don’t understand why everyone doesn’t play their heart out every second of every game. It doesn’t make sense. They don’t have anything to lose by doing it,” Allen says.

Playing for the Crusaders of Springfield, Mo., Allen’s played supported her words. Against the Middletown, Mo., Shooters, in the Show-Me-State Games, she had three steals and caused more than a half dozen turnovers with her physical style of play. She also had five rebounds and three assists in the 40-34 victory.

Although Allen did not have any complains about her team’s play on Friday, she finds it frustrating to play with girls who don’t necessarily play their hearts out.

“It can definitely get frustrating when I see someone being lazy by not boxing out or not diving for a ball,” Allen says. “There’s just no point in playing if you’re not going to go all out.”

Sometimes a drawback to playing tough is that the player might commit fouls. Allen committed two fouls Friday morning but called it, “A good day for me. But seriously, what do I care if I pick up a few fouls as long as I don’t foul out or get in too serious of foul trouble. It ends up paying off for me because when people go up against me after I let them know I play hard, they either don’t want the ball or are afraid to drive.”

On one specific play, Allen made her point. The Shooters’ Ashley Boyd lost the ball and it was rolling out of bounds. Allen and the Shooters point guard, Lacie Reichhardt, went after it. Before the two got to the ball, Allen put a shoulder into her competitor and knocked her over.

“That little girl looked scared,” Allen said.

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