DOBSON — Surry Central basketball player Brooke Lewis has picked Ferrum College.
Lewis, an all-conference selection at forward, becomes the third local player to sign with Ferrum behind Mount Airy’s Jasmine Varney and North Surry’s Erin March.
Having spent a couple of years together with Jasmine and Erin will help with familiarity, according to the senior.
What did Ferrum like about the Lady Eagle?
“Mainly my defense,” Brooke said. “They like how aggressive I am. … I’m basically anything but the point guard — that was not my strong suit.”
Brooke believes her strengths include “defense, learning plays quickly, being able to do different positions.”
Learning quickly and understanding more than one role is something that should have come easy to the Eagles, one of the smartest sports teams in the entire state.
Not only were all four seniors members of the National Honor Society, the girls basketball team has been honored twice for academic excellence.
For Brooke’s sophomore year, the team was first in the state in grade point average, noted Coach Mandy Holt. That was for all classifications, 1A through 4A. For her junior year, the team came in third.
“They work hard,” said Holt. “It’s not just on the basketball court.”
“Watching her over the four years,” said Holt, “she is a well-rounded athlete. But I think basketball-wise, she’s stepped it up in every part of the game. Her scoring has improved, her defense and then her understanding of the game has improved. She probably is the most improved player on the team this year.”
For her 10th and 11th grade seasons, Brooke was a backup, scoring only about a point and a half a game. This year she moved into the starting lineup and produced more in every statistical category.
“It felt a lot better getting to start this year,” she said. “I knew I had competition still on the team. The coach pulled me into her office and (explained) we’re actually going to have to work for starting positions because all of our teammates were so good.”
The group of juniors moving up to varsity were part of two JV seasons where they lost just one game.
“It felt good to be a leader and be out there,” she said.
“Brooke got to where she understood her role very well,” the coach said. “Sometimes it wasn’t being the most outstanding scorer or the person who’s supposed to stop the other team’s best player. It was coming in and doing some of those little things that didn’t always show up on the stat sheet.
“If you didn’t really know the game of basketball, you wouldn’t realize the value she gave to our team. It could be diving on the floor or just getting a hand or foot on the ball.”
One of her biggest improvements came when Brooke grabbed some important rebounds at key moments.
“She’s fearless. I think she’s a great competitor,” Holt said. “I’m truly going to miss her, but I’m really proud of her.”
As a senior, Brooke averaged 6.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals. Her shooting percentage increased on both two-point and three-point tries, and she earned her first all-conference honor.
To Brooke, the coach said, “You played on a really good team. If it were another year, you might really have been the shining star. That’s kind of a tough thing to accept at times. But I think we all did come up with our roles.”
“I’ve got a great core left, but it still not going to be the same,” said the coach.
Of her time in high school, Brooke said she’ll think back to the team camps she attended with her friends like Elon and Virginia Tech.
As for Ferrum College, Brooke said, “I went to a lot of their games and saw how well they worked together.” The Panthers are losing four seniors from a team that went 27-3.
On the academic side, Brooke said, “Right now, it’s major in business with a minor in arts. With a degree in business you can do anything. I want to do interior design, so that’s where the art comes in.”
Moving up to college competition will be tough, but Holt says not to count out the hard-working Lewis.
“If somebody really wants something bad enough, they’ve got to go out there and get it. It can’t just be during the season you spend here at the high school.”
Holt said Brooke worked hard in AAU, too, for coaches Gerald Culler, Keith Seivers and Alan Hiatt.
“Brooke is one of those players that gets overlooked in a game, but when the game is over and you look at the stats she did exactly what she was supposed to do,” said Seivers.
“She does the dirty work like rebounding and hard-nose defense that most players don’t enjoy doing, and she does it with a smile. I’m very proud of her and Ferrum is a great fit. Ferrum is a Division III top-25-in-the-nation team.”