0

Coleman's willingness helps Panthers to perfect regular season

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Parkview's Lauren Coleman, the Daily Post girl's basketball player of the year, helped lead the Panthers to an undefeated regular season.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Parkview's Lauren Coleman, the Daily Post girl's basketball player of the year, helped lead the Panthers to an undefeated regular season.

The difference between a good player and a great player can sometimes be the unwillingness to settle for being the former and the willingness to put forth the effort to become the latter.

That pretty much describes Lauren Coleman's high school career.

Already a first-team All-County selection last season, the 6-foot Parkview senior took her game to another level this season.

The end result was a season in which she averaged 17 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.5 steals per game in helping the Panthers to a 28-1 record and the Region 8-AAAAA championship.

But the journey to Coleman earning the Daily Post's Girls Player of the Year honor was every bit as important as the result.

"She did a great job of playing basically the last two years out of position," Parkview coach Mike McCoy said of Coleman. "That epitomizes what she's about. ... That says a lot about her unselfishness."

The transformation from a sophomore post to a senior point guard didn't happen overnight, but she said the patience it took to make it a success was well worth it.

"It added a lot to my game," Coleman said. "It definitely opened my eyes."

Indeed, experiencing the dramatically different physical demands of the point for the first time a year ago convinced her she needed to be in better physical shape this season.

"I've been going to a (physical) trainer for a couple of years now," Coleman said. "But I definitely kicked it up a notch this year."

That effort did not go unnoticed by McCoy.

"She lost about eight to 10 pounds, but also improved her upper-body strength," McCoy said. "That allowed her to absorb some contact when she needed to get to the rim. She gave up a lot of points last year because of that."

But neither Coleman nor her Parkview teammates were willing to give up anything this season.

And even though the Panthers' season ended in disappointing fashion with a stunning 44-43 loss to Marietta in the first round of the Class AAAAA state tournament -- ending their run of 28 straight wins -- it didn't erase their accomplishments throughout Coleman's career.

"We went undefeated until the final game," Coleman said. "That right there is a lot."

The Panthers posted an astounding 74-7 record over the last three seasons, including a trip to the state quarterfinals her sophomore season and a Final Four appearance during her junior season a year ago.

But more important to her was the bond she built with her teammates.

"Just being with my teammates," Coleman said when asked what she would remember most about her high school career. "(The team is) just like a whole other family. I'll miss all of our great adventures."

Coleman's next adventure will take place in the Atlantic Coast Conference as she has signed a scholarship to play at Florida State beginning in the fall.

And McCoy is confident she will be ready, even though it is likely she will face another position change by moving out to the wing.

"I think she'll probably play a three (small forward) -- maybe a small four (power forward)," McCoy said. "With (Florida State's) motion, they play their four out (on the wing) sometimes."