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After her Columbus Christian girls basketball team posted another victory, Kayleigh Reed emerged from the locker room barefoot, which gave teammate Macy Wingham a competitive advantage.
Both girls, who are junior guards, are vertically challenged when it comes to that all-important basketball statistic. Height.
Many high school girls who have made basketball their main hobby, perhaps with the hope of enriching their college opportunities, would love to be 6-feet tall. It’s a notch in the ruler that makes college coaches take notice.
Reed and Wingham are aligned together on another notch. The 5-foot mark.
That wouldn’t be so bad, basketball-wise, if they were 12. But they are not.
The two girls, full of giggles, lined up back-to-back.
“I’m taller,” said Reed, who did appear to be a lock of hair higher than Wingham, who had the advantage of wearing basketball shoes.
“Maybe by one millimeter,” Wingham shot back.
Again, they laughed.
Columbus Christian girls basketball coach Ron Bridgewater would dispute the fact that either are actually 5-feet tall.
Both are listed as 5-feet tall on the Columbus Christian girls basketball roster.
“I give them the benefit of the doubt,” Bridgewater said. “But I tell them, if I stacked one on top of the other, they still couldn’t touch the rim.”
It all is a lot of fun, but it is something more as well. The Reed-Wingham starting guard combination has helped the third-year Crusaders program get off to an 11-4 start this season. It is a great example that we don’t need a cookie cutter to size up our athletes.
We usually hear it at the professional level, where a great college quarterback goes to the NFL Draft Combine and gets measured, timed and examined.
Ultimately, his draft value falls, because he is not tall enough to see over the offensive line. The guy turns out to be Russell Wilson.
I’m sure many parents have experienced it on a different level. Their son or daughter is too short to be a good basketball player, so they are channeled into another spot. “But Coach, my kid loves basketball.”
Wingham and Reed tell us all to fight back against such nonsense. Small size, big dreams.
They play with such an attitude that Bridgewater didn’t hesitate when it came to playing them together in the same backcourt.
“I guess it could create a bit of a disadvantage,” he said of their size. “I really never have thought about it. They don’t ever use their height as an excuse. To them, it isn’t a factor.
“And, sure, there have been times where they have gotten their shots blocked when another person would not have. But they just keep going. We’re 11-4, so I haven’t seen a huge disadvantage.
Reed grew up in the Columbus Christian school system, but went to public schools after sixth grade until the start of her junior year, when she returned to Columbus Christian. She played for the Columbus East junior varsity team a year ago.
Wingham was always a public school student until this year when she transferred to Columbus Christian from Columbus North to join her friend, Reed.
“They’re like sisters and they have been best friends since middle school,” Bridgewater said. “I think to play on a team together like this has been good for them.”
It’s also good for us, to see high school sports at its best.
“Basketball is their first love,” Bridgewater said. “Their attitude is, ‘I can do this, regardless of how tall I am.’
“It makes you think about (NBA stars) like Spud Webb (5-foot-7) and Nate Robinson (5-foot-9), stories about kids who keep pushing and pushing. Somebody tells me I can’t, so I am going to prove you wrong. Kids like that just work harder. To see Kayleigh and Macy take that motivation, take it to the floor, has been fun to watch.”
Jay Heater is The Republic sports editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 379-5632.
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