All eyes on standout sophomore Perdue when Wildcats take the floor

Mickayla Perdue prepares for every basketball game expecting to be guarded by a non-traditional defense. Will it be a box-and-one designed to keep the ball out of her hands? Will it be a double-team every time she touches the ball?

“For the most part, I’m fine with it because we get things where I can get off,” she said. “It’s not like I can’t do anything. We have plays that let me get off.”

Why all this attention on Perdue?

Last year as a freshman she led Springfield to an 11-13 record, which was by far the program’s best season since the merger of North and South high schools 11 seasons ago. Perdue averaged 21.8 points and was named all-state honorable mention in Division I.

Perdue entered Saturday’s game against Lebanon averaging 19 points. The Warriors played a box-and-one in the first quarter and double-teamed her the rest of the game. Perdue was held to 11 points, but that didn’t mean she and her mostly young teammates didn’t have a chance. The Wildcats held several leads before falling 46-41 to Lebanon (6-3, 4-1 GWOC).

Trinity Morton-Nooks, the only senior starter, scored 18 points. As the Wildcats built an early 12-2 lead, she split the top of the box-and-one defense three times for layups while Perdue watched from the corner. When the Warriors adjusted Perdue became a bigger part of the offense.

“We have other people that can score this year, and I like seeing my teammates score off of my assist,” Perdue said.

The young Wildcats (4-4, 1-4 in the deep and talented GWOC National East) start three sophomores — Perdue, Destiny Wells, Jada Bass — freshman Camaya Calloway and Morton-Nooks.

“The progress we’ve shown is pretty good,” said junior varsity coach Tim Sullivan who was filling in Saturday for head coach Darris Gattis who was away on a family matter. “We’re young, but they put a lot of energy into the game.”

Opposing coaches aren’t alone in noticing Perdue’s point guard and scoring skills. She’s already taken non-official visits to half a dozen colleges and received as many scholarship offers at schools such as Wright State, Youngstown State, Detroit Mercy and last weekend at Akron.

“Just to see what the college life is like,” she said. “And it’s always good to have a few ideas of where you might feel comfortable going when you do get to that point.”

Comfortable is how Perdue feels in the Springfield program. Soon after Gattis took over when she was in seventh grade she knew she wanted to play for the Wildcats. That year they won five games, the most since the merger. Perdue said Gattis treats every player as if they were his own daughter and has created a family atmosphere and sisterhood on the team.

The program’s culture change means more game film study of themselves and their opponents. It means they have goals of winning more than the one tournament game they won last year. And it means the next time powerhouses like Centerville and Beavercreek are on the schedule they will have a game plan they believe could lead to an upset.

“He’s real strict and his big word is discipline,” Perdue said. “But we can handle it because we know what he does, and we know that if he doesn’t do that then we’re not going to play how we play in games.”

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