For the third time in her high school career, Antaijah Easter’s basketball season began at North Lincoln High’s gymnasium on Lee Lawing Road in Lincolnton.As in years before, cheers rose up from friends in the crowd whenever Easter scored. There was, however, one big difference this season. Easter plays for Bandys High’s girls basketball team, after transferring from North Lincoln during the summer. It just so happened that the Trojans’ first game of the season came against Easter’s former squad. “Ace, as we call Antaijah, was a little nervous going in to the North Lincoln game,” Bandys coach Kyle Moretz said. “She wasn’t sure how she’d be received, but every time she got the ball, they cheered for her. I think the fact that happened says a lot about the kind of girl she is.” After averaging 26 points a game during her junior season with North Lincoln, Easter – who has an offer to play at Western Carolina – scored 13 points (on 5-of-8 shooting) on her former team in an 89-11 win on Nov. 19. “It was hard before the game,” Easter said. “I went into it thinking I was going to get booed, but my old classmates were actually cheering for me. I do miss my friends from North Lincoln, but this has been a good transition.” The decision to transfer came about after her mother got a job in the small town of Catawba in southeastern Catawba County, where Bandys High is located. “My mom and I sat down and talked about it,” Easter said. “It was a pretty hard decision. I was at North Lincoln for three years. It was hard leaving people I’ve known for that long, but it made things easier on my mom and I.” After having to carry the load for North Lincoln last season, Easter is now on a team led by Southern District 7 2A conference player of the year candidate and Appalachian State commit Madi Story. Easter’s average scoring has dropped to 14 points per game this season, but the Trojans are averaging 82 points a game and are off to a 13-0 start. “She compliments Madi very well,” Moretz said. “She’s a ‘two’ guard that can drive and slash to the hoop but also shoot it. Her role has changed a bit from what it was last year, but she’s embraced that.“You would think someone that scored that much would have a problem coming in to a new program and not getting to score as much, but there’s been no conflict at all. She’s fit in great.” Along with Story (16.5 points per game) and Easter, two other girls on the Bandys squad also average in double figures. “When I was at North Lincoln last year, we lost seven seniors, and I felt like I had to be the leader, and that I had to do everything,” Easter said. “Now, I don’t have to.” When Easter made the decision to transfer, she knew of Story but otherwise had little clue what to expect in her new environment. On one of Easter’s first days, Story took up a chair next to her during lunch and made sure that she’d be attending the open gym later that afternoon. The conversation switched from how Easter liked her classes – one of which she and Story share – back to the upcoming basketball season. “We talked about how we wanted a ring our senior year and how we have to play our butts off every game until we get there,” Easter said. So far that’s what the Trojans have done. They have 380 more points than any other team in the conference and have outscored their opponents by 722 points through 13 games. “I think we’ve been able to score more than what we did last year, and adding Ace has helped with a lot with that,” Moretz said. “ We’re more balanced. If our girls play the way they know they can play, I think things will take care of themselves.”
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014
Easter fitting in well with Trojans’ lineup
Seth Lakso is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Seth? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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