Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
One of Longmont’s hidden gems on the basketball court is a player that doesn’t really even have a true home court at her school.
Make no mistake, Whitney Echols has definitely settled in just fine at Longmont Christian School.
Echols, a junior who originally hails from the Seattle area, is your area scoring leader at about the halfway point of the season chiming in with 19.2 points per game. However, she is contributing in so many more ways and the Warriors are off to one of their best starts in years as a result at 7-3.
Getting a chance to play under the guidance of her father, Zach Echols, Whitney is wreaking havoc from end-to-end with a breakout season. It’s been a joy for her after a few consecutive roller-coaster type years.
Echols transferred out of Mead High School after her freshman season and the departure of coach Mike Ward, but that also meant sitting out half the year at LCS even when her father took over as coach at the 1A Mile High League school. The bench was light last year and the Warriors were a team that had a few girls just getting introduced to the sport. Whitney did what she could during practices, but she could only watch as the Warriors went 4-15.
“I just love basketball, and it was just tough watching us lose because we didn’t have that experience out on the court,” Echols said. “Everyone was trying to have fun, but it was a transition coming from a place like Mead. It was a challenge to just have to sit there and not be able to do anything about it.”
To his credit, Zach Echols was going to see the project through knowing that Whitney was going to be able to play a full 2017-18 schedule and that others — including senior Maddie Lehnherr and a handful of incoming players — were going to provide a solid supporting cast.
For Whitney, last year was a springboard to personal goals in terms of being the ever-present and steady player every team needs to be successful.
“I love offense and I love to be able to take control of the game and have the team on my back,” Whitney said. “Something I’m really proud of, though, is my defense. I love being the one to guard the biggest challenge on the other team and just give them trouble. For me, the funnest part of basketball is picking up the best ball-handler and the best shooter and trying to shut her down.”
With 6.5 steals per game credited to her — some of her other averages include five rebounds and four assists per outing — it’s safe to say she has given opposing players fits so far.
Although she has 13 3-pointers on the season, the 5-foot-7 Echols has done most of her damage inside the arc. She’s hitting roughly 50 percent from 2-point range and has hit double-digit scoring in every game so far.
Being a 1A team in the 1A/2A Mile High League also means quite a daunting conference schedule — one that is just now heating up for LCS. They’ve already faced 2A league foes Highland, Union Colony Prep and Heritage Christian (in a non-league game), and teams like Denver Christian and Lyons will be tough customers.
But Whitney Echols said this year is a breath of fresh air for her and her teammates, even if the road to districts does get a little more bumpy. The squad currently consists of just two seniors and two juniors.
“I just am having so much fun this year and I think all of the girls have just gotten so close and have built good friendships,” Echols said. “On the court, I think we are just more scrappy and I think we know how it feels to lose from last year. We’re getting the other end of it and enjoying every minute of it. Hustling, never giving up … I’m proud of all of us.”