It’s a sign of respect bellowed by basketball coaches at all levels of the game.
When a defense is getting back to cut off the transition game “Shooter” can be heard being frantically yelled by the head coach, assistant coach and even players as they point out a dangerous opposing player that is waiting on the wings ready to flush the ball through the net.
Meet Tilasha Okey.
The 5-foot-10 Mountain Pointe sophomore quickly earned the shooter tag when she scored 17 points in her third game as a freshman that included sinking all of her 3-point attempts.
She’s hasn’t become a consistent scorer yet, but her shot is so quick that once it is in her hands she can do damage in an instant.
“She’s a streaky shooter and when she gets hot it is lights out,” Pride coach Trevor Neider said. “She hit a couple and missed a couple (in a 57-53 loss to Desert Vista last week) so it kind of goes with the streakiness.”
Okey, who had a good club season, said she worked on her shot a lot in her backyard, taking shot after shot from deeper and deeper spots on the court, until she became comfortable from just about anywhere on the court.
“When I was younger they just kept telling me shoot and shoot and shoot and they were going in a lot so I got a lot of confidence,” she said. “I worked on it a lot in my backyard and I’ve always been a pretty good shooter.”
Heading into Friday’s game at Hamilton, Okey has made 23 3-pointers, second only to senior Maddy Sulka’s 24 on the team, on 74 attempts for a 31 percent clip. She made 15 3-balls during her freshman season and has continued to develop this year.
There are still some things that will come with maturity as she is still learning what it takes to be a consistent varsity player. She can have a big scoring game and follow it up with a dud.
“Some younger players can struggle with consistency,” Neider said. “She has those nights where I have to tell her pick up her intensity. It will come with time.”
Okey has seven double-digit scoring games this season with a season-high of 15 against Xavier and five games of two or less points.
Once she starts playing at full capacity her game will really take off and the inconsistencies will fade away.
As it is Okey is averaging 7.7 points on the season to give the Pride a third option behind Sulka and Kaylah Lupoe, but Okey knows she has to expand her game in order to really take advantage of her touch from the outside.
“I need to go to the basket more instead of just shooting all of the time,” said Okey, whose career high of 20 came against Desert Vista last season. “I am just known for shooting. I need to change up my game more that way they don’t know what I am doing to do.”
If the defense has to start respecting her ability to get to the basket then they will back off her a bit and then that’s when her quick release will be even more deadly.
“She has a ton of potential and could become a big-time scorer,” Neider said. “If she fixes a few things, keeps grinding away at it and getting better she has a bright future.”
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