Lily Bouza has been a bright spot in what has been one tough winter for the Carson High girls basketball team.
Bouza, a sophomore, is averaging 12 points a game for the Senators, who are 3-8 in 4A play entering Friday’s home game against Galena. She’s the only player averaging in double figures.
“It has been pretty rough for all of the girls,” Bouza said Wednesday afternoon before practice. “We hit rock bottom recently with players getting hurt or quitting.
“Our team has a lot of heart for the game. We just play basketball and do what we can. We have done pretty well with what we can do. We have a lot of love and passion for the game.”
Carson has played many games with seven players after Haley Garver suffered a concussion and Bella Kordonowy went down with a knee injury. Lauren Lemburg has been in and out of the lineup with an undisclosed illness.
Those things have put a lot of pressure on Bouza to produce more, and she has responded well, often carrying the team offensively for stretches.
“Her (Lily) and Bella were strong together attacking the basket,” Carson coach Melissa Larsen said. “We’ve had to rely on her more.”
“Definitely I feel more pressure,” Bouza said. “Bella scored some of the points. The loss of players I’ve had to pick up my game a little more.”
Bouza’s game is getting to the basket. Where others on the team are content to cast up 3-pointers or long 2-pointers, Bouza’s forte is getting to the basket whether it’s on a fastbreak or driving in a halfcourt set. She’s fearless.
“My coaches throughout the years have told me with my speed to take it to the basket, and you could get a foul and make the basket, or just get fouled,” she said.
“She doesn’t have a problem going against taller people,” Larsen said. “She is faster than other girls in the north and can score on layups. We try to get the ball (off the rebound) to her turning around and looking downcourt. Instead of dribbling, we look up and see if we can get it to her. ”
At least three or four times a game, Bouza will start downcourt once the opposing shot goes up, and often she can beat the defense down the floor, or at least get into a 1-on-1 situation.
Larsen said she’s working with Bouza on penetrating and dishing off if there’s an open teammate.
“She has been doing that with Abby Golik,” Larsen said. “I want her to get that assist. To me, it’s just as important as scoring the basket.”
Bouza’s experience is evident. She has been playing since she was 5, and it shows. In terms of basketball IQ, she’s far above many of her peers and opponents.
“She has played a lot more basketball (than other girls),” Larsen said. “She plays basketball all year around. It’s nice to see girls play more basketball.”
Bouza said when she was younger she played volleyball and soccer. She actually played soccer last season at Carson, but after being sideline with an injury, she said she’s only going to play basketball.
“My dad thought I should have focused on basketball (when I was younger),” Bouza said. “I got hurt this season in soccer, and I almost couldn’t play basketball, so I just decided to stick with basketball.
“In eighth grade, my love for the game started to grow. I like the game more. I like how quick it is.”
Larsen likes the emotion Bouza has brought to the program.
“She plays with a lot of intensity, and she wants to win at all costs,” Larsen said. “She is always working hard. Sometimes I have to check her. She has the fire.”
Bouza said there are many areas she works on during the season, and will continue to work on throughout the year.
“I want to work on my shot, defense, rebounding and work on my left hand,” she said. “When I try to rebound, I usually foul.”
“I want her to work on hitting more 3s, not just layups and 5-footers,” Larsen said. “We need outside shooting to compete with other teams.”
Considering her work ethic, expect to see an improved Bouza by next high school basketball season.