IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Ellie Pearson, known for her niceness and good-naturedness, has been asked to take on a different persona.
Many times, in fact.
“I’ve been told,” admitted the Lake Forest High School girls basketball player while flashing her patented smile, “to be more mean on the court.”
Don’t hold your breath.
Becoming that kind of player would be out of character for the skilled 6-foot-1 Pearson. Leave playing with a mean streak for others.
Her cheerful disposition — and demeanor — won’t be changing any time soon.
But check out her play in the Blue Devil Classic last week. Pearson looked like a different player. Her game is emerging at a fairly rapid rate.
The junior post player averaged 10.1 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in the five-game set and helped the Scouts to a 4-1 record and first-place finish.
For her efforts, Pearson moved into elite status. She joined super point guard Halle Douglass on the all-tournament team.
“Ellie had a great tournament. Really great,” said Lake Forest Kyle Wilhelm.
Pearson came up with a double double (11 points, 10 rebounds) in a Day Four win over Carmel Catholic 42-32 on Dec. 29, while she had 18 (points) and seven (rebounds) in a 53-37 Day Two victory over Phillips on Dec. 27.
She’s become a flashing-light target for Douglass — LF’s quarterback and passer extraordinaire.
In LF’s 39-23 setback to host Warren in the tourney finale on Dec. 30, it was pretty obvious that the slick-passing sophomore was trying to drop as many dimes as possible to Pearson.
“Those two have a great chemistry going right now,” Wilhelm said. “And what’s nice is that they still have a year and half together.”
With Pearson, who also plays volleyball at the school, the confidence factor has kicked in.
“I’m less timid than I used to be on the court,” said Pearson, who plays her club basketball with the Lincolnshire-based North Suburban Blue Devils. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a basketball player.”
Pearson ended up with team highs in points (nine) and rebounds (eight) against Warren. She especially fared well in the hustling-plays department: four offensive rebounds, four steals.
Watching her dive on the floor for loose balls was a common occurrence.
“She’s working hard,” said Wilhelm. “And besides being more aggressive on the boards, I thought she did a nice job running floor and getting out in transition.
“And she got rewarded for that [scoring off feeds from Douglass],” the coach added.
The whole team struggled to finish plays in the paint against Warren’s Dana Lundtveidt, a 6-1 junior who plays the game in a physical fashion.
Pearson knew going in that going up against Lundtveidt would be a difficult task. The two post players have played together in club basketball, and they know each other well.
“She knew how to read me,” said Pearson, who, in turn, helped to limit Lundveidt to eight points and seven rebounds. “I need to find new ways to score against her.”
Pearson also shared that she came into the late December tournament with a fresh outlook.
“Being out of school and focusing only on basketball was a big help,” she said. “And before the tournament, we did some really fun drills in practice.
“And that kind of rekindled things for me,” she added.