First Posted: 1/20/2014
Basketball can be a challenging game for a young post player who stops growing.
Fortunately for Cayle Spencer, even if she is not growing, her game is.
Spencer once scored her points by knowing how to use a size advantage.
“I’ve always been bigger,” said Spencer, a 5-foot-9 junior power forward, “but people are growing and I seemed to have stopped.”
Spencer went over the 1,000-point mark for her career on Jan. 9 and has continued to add to her totals since.
She has racked up such lofty totals with more than a year left in her high school career because Spencer has developed into a player that can score in a variety of ways.
Spencer uses her strength to score on post moves and drives to the basket. She also has developed an accurate shooting touch, hitting at least one 3-pointer in eight straight games prior to Monday’s loss to Meyers, making 77 percent of her free throws and hitting the mid-range jumpers that are often missing from modern basketball.
“Cayle can post you up,” Lake-Lehman coach Charlie Lavan said. “She can also drive to the rim.
“She can get to the basket and she can also hit the three, so she has just about every weapon that I’d want offensively.”
Spencer has been scoring since she picked up the sport in second grade. She has added ways to score, in part through AAU basketball in the summer where she often moves further away from the basket in what could be a prelude to what she hopes will be a college career.
“I’ve always been able to drive first,” Spencer said. “I’ve really had to work on my jump shot a lot this year.”
It has paid off in consistency. If opponents take one part of Spencer’s game away, she has another option. The versatility has allowed Spencer to score at least 12 points in each of her 14 games this season while averaging 20.4.
“She plays ball almost all year round with AAU,” Lavan said of Spencer, a contender for a throwing state medal in track and field who gave up soccer this school year to devote more time to basketball. “She works awful hard on her game and she’s gotten better each year.”
Lavan opens games trying to take advantage of Spencer’s experience as an inside scorer.
“We usually try to establish that inside game first and go from there,” he said. “If we can get that inside game going, we can get to the line and get the other team in foul trouble.
“If they keep that middle pretty well clogged up, we have to adjust a little bit and she can definitely rotate out and hit the 3.”
Spencer has done more than score while helping Lake-Lehman to a 5-3 record in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 and 3 play as well as a 11-6 overall mark. She is second on the team with 7.4 rebounds and tied for third with 1.9 steals per game while working to become a more effective defender.
As she looks ahead to the possibility of playing away from the basket more in the future, Spencer works on her dribbling as well as her outside shot. A tough inside defender, she has found the transition to occasional perimeter defense the hardest because her style of play naturally relies more on strength than speed.
“They call more fouls outside, I’ve noticed,” said Spencer, who is accustomed to the physical play in the post.
The work extends beyond the court where Spencer has put in time on strength training and therapy for her ankles, in the process becoming a better jumper.
“I have hopes of playing in college,” Spencer said. “I’ve been to a few showcases, but I haven’t really talked to any coaches yet.”
For now, she is simply showing what she can do – from many different spots on the court.