Bulldog's scoring ability could be key for team

Kelsee Cheek has been one of the best scorers in the area the last few years.

"She's a wonderful, kind, brilliant, fun young lady," said Jay M. Robinson coach Lin Smithson. "But on the court, she's a beast."

Cheek is a competitive and athletic player who has the ability to make jump shots and play in the paint.

Last week, she scored her 1,500th point as a Bulldog; but the modest Cheek doesn't think too much of that accomplishment.

"It was just like any other game," said Cheek of her team's 70-41 win against East Rowan. "It wasn't anything special. I care more about winning conference than scoring 2,000 points."

After a hot start last year, Cheek and her Bulldogs struggled in the latter part of the season and fell just short of a conference title.

"Our team chemistry is a lot better and I think we really want to come back and take the conference," said Cheek.

Cheek's ability comes from the amount of work she's put in since she started playing basketball as a little girl.

"She makes it look easy, but if you went back and logged all the hours she's spent in the gym since she was 6 years old, I don't think many of us would be willing to work that much and that hard on anything," said Smithson, who also said she is glad to see that work paying off.

Cheek, who will take her talent to Chattanooga next year, is averaging more than 20 points per game and is one of the Bulldogs' primary ball-handlers. The senior captain is also one of Robinson's leaders both on and off the court.

"When you have a player that's this talented and able to score in very difficult situations, of course they're going to be a huge part of your team," said Smithson. "She means a lot to our team, but she by no means is all of the team."

Guard Isabel Bernal has also been big for the Bulldogs.

The junior has had a couple of double-doubles to start the season; a big improvement in her game has been her confidence to shoot more and to attack the basket.

"She's another player who has the ability to make shots for herself," said Smithson. "She and Kelsee play very well together, they seem to click and play off each other."

Sophomore forward Rachel Cook, who along with Bernal is being recruited by several schools, is also a strong player for Smithson.

Senior Carol Ann Trammell has been another strong leader: The 6-footer has been a big boost on the rebounding end this year.

Smithson said that in addition to these players, Robinson has many talented guards on its roster: Chartea Peay and Rachel Lloyd, as well as newcomers Desiree Gray, Rachelle Toppings and Melanie Zeiler.

"They've all shown up and are really contributing," said Smithson. "We have a team that goes pretty deep."

Smithson said this team has been the most fun to coach. "I really like the personality of the team, and Kelsee is a big part of that," said Smithson.

"They're enjoyable to be around. They come to practice and put their hearts and souls in it and are getting better and better every day."

Cheek said that with the amount of talent surrounding her on the court, she tries to get her teammates involved and leads the team in assists, but when that isn't working she knows what she has to do.

"When we need to score, I score," she said.

One of the big improvements in Cheek's game has been her defense, which she admits hadn't been something she had focused on in years past.

Smithson thinks that if her team puts in the work, they have the talent to win the conference championship and make a deep run in the playoffs.

"I know Kelsee would like a state championship ring," she said.

"I would, too."

Cheek was quick to agree.