Tia LaFavor sits in the front row at Silverthorne Arena, her right leg propped on the four seats next to her. At six feet tall, it takes at least four seats to cradle the lanky limb. An icebag clings to her right knee, slowly shrinking the inflamation the joint suffered during the Stars’ last game, which ended 20 minutes ago. The contest was a pummelling, a 68-46 rout of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, and LaFavor played extremely well.
So well, in fact, she doesn’t even know how many points she scored.
“I have no idea,” she replies to the query with a smile, oblivious to her individual performance.
She points to her coach for the answer, and Dane Pavlovich spits the number out instantly. He doesn’t even glance at the scorebook.
“Fifteen points,” he chirps, like a proud new father announcing his child has a complete set of 10 fingers and 10 toes.
LaFavor, a freshman forward for Stephens College, rarely enters a game with her stat line in mind. Instead, the Leeton, native begins her first year of collegiate play with a quiet confidence uncommon for a player of her caliber.
An All-State player at Class 1 Leeton High, LaFavor’s experience will be an asset to a young Stars squad. Pavlovich said that experience is essential to his team’s development.
“She’s got a ton of experience,” Pavlovich said. “She’s played a great deal of basketball at a pretty high level.”
While LaFavor is anything but vocal on the court, Pavlovich said she’s as ball-hungry as any post player.
“She doesn’t demand the ball vocally, but she still wants it,” he said. “She’s pretty laid back, but as far as her on-the-court play, it’s the opposite of what she’s like away from the court.”
It’s a good thing LaFavor longs for the ball, because Pavlovich said the Stars’ offense will likely center on her.
“I think, any time you play the game of basketball, you have to get the post involved,” he said. “You have to play inside before you play out(side). Tia’s got to be a huge part of that.”
LaFavor’s contribution to her team isn’t singularly offensive. Even though she has yet to finish her first semester at college, Pavlovich said he expects LaFavor to take charge and help lead his young team.
“I told her she needs to be more vocal,” he said. “I’ve seen a change in how aggressive she is, and she’s not shy about taking a bigger role.”
With her first six collegiate games in a 12-day span, LaFavor had no choice but to quickly acclimate herself to the heightened level of NAIA play.
“She had to do a lot of things right off the bat,” Pavlovich said. “I think she has transitioned very smoothly and has found her way.”
Pavlovich has a habit of saying that the present is the best time to be a student-athlete at Stephens. He has a similar prediction for LaFavor, who adds stellar performance in the classroom to her zvathletic achievements.
“I think she has the potential to be one of the most decorated student-athletes in our history,” he said.
If LaFavor stays grounded and continues to produce on the block for the Stars, LaFavor may just prove her coach right. One thing is for sure, though: she’ll never let you know it.