GOING THE RIGHT WRAY: Lady Bears’ varsity basketball player Addie Wray has embraced her new role during the 2019-20 season

Bunker Hill junior point guard Addison Wray (30) driving to the basket in this file photo from the 2019 Dick’s Sporting Goods Classic game against Newton-Conover on Dec. 28. (O-N-E file photo by Brian Hendrix) In this file photo from December 10, 2019, Lady Bears’ junior guard Addie Wray (30) is being defended by Newton-Conover freshman Cassidy Geddes (10) in the two teams’ second match-up of the 2019-20 season. (O-N-E file photo by Marcus Smith)Bunker Hill junior point guard Addie Wray (30) with her family after eclipsing the 1,000 career-point mark on Dec. 4. (Photo by Bunker Hill Athletics)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

When it comes to sports, believing in oneself is only half the battle. It takes a really special individual to take that belief, along with the combined natural talent, and achieve great things in one’s athletic career.

For Bunker Hill junior Addison “Addie” Wray, her passion for basketball has only enhanced over the years.

“My dad introduced me to basketball,” she said. “There is always a game on in the house. He has taught me to watch with intent to better myself, he has always said ‘pay attention to your position; everyone is watching Lebron (James) but that is not you; pay attention to point guards whether they have the ball in their hands or not, just how they move.’”

Wray said that when she was in the third grade her dad began a co-ed basketball team at Bunker Hill Optimist.

“The girls on my high school team are the girls I have played with since that very first year (on Optimist),” she said. “I have always had the mentality to outwork everyone and try to become the best I can be; as soon as I picked up a ball, I knew I would play until someone told me I wasn’t good enough to play anymore.”

Wray has already achieved excellence at the high school level. She was an All-Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference player her freshman year. During the 2018-19 season, she earned All-Conference and All-District honors as a sophomore after averaging 20.2 points per game.

This season she is averaging 18 points per game, four rebounds per game, four assists per game and three steals per game.

Although she’s having yet another great season this year, Wray had to change her mindset a little bit as she made the move from shooting guard to point guard.

“I knew my role was going to change this year,” said Wray. “Last year I was able to be a scorer because of Crystany White playing point guard. I knew this season I would have to move over and take on that role which would change my focus from being a scorer to a facilitator.”

Wray also had to deal with a coaching change as longtime Bunker Hill varsity girls’ basketball head coach Randy Joines retired a few months before the 2019-20 season. In his place stepped in Lee Swanson. Swanson wasn’t an outsider, though, as he had coached the Bears’ varsity boys’ team the last few years.

“The most difficult part for the team and I has been learning the new pace of the game,” she said. “Coach Swanson is a little more intense which is an adjustment we had to make. During a coaching change, you have to build new relationships and that is something Coach Swanson has done a great job of. No matter the issue, I am comfortable communicating with him to better the team or even myself.

“He has taught me to embrace the new role; I can’t count how many times we have sat down and watched film pausing every possession just to see what play I could have made to get us in a better position to score. At the beginning it was rough, honestly I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make the adjustment; however, now I am comfortable making decisions and knowing every one I make will not be what he wants, but it is what I saw. If it doesn’t work, he always tell us ‘next play.’”

As far as her game is concerned, she eclipsed the 1,000 career-point mark on December 4, 2019, in a win over the Maiden Lady Blue Devils, 59-44. On that same night, Wray also garnered a career-high 33 points.

In terms of personal goals for the rest of this regular season, she said that she really hasn’t set any.

“My main goal was to make sure I got everyone involved in the offense and meet our team goals which are to be the best we can be night in and night out and making a run in the (state) playoffs.”

Wray did say that the things she wanted to work on heading into the year were ball-handling, seeing the floor, as well as being a better leader.

“I (also) feel I need to continue working on my on-ball defense, consistency in my shot, and letting the game come to me, not trying to do too much,” said Wray.

Wray also talked about what players on the professional level she tries to pattern some form of her game after:

“Growing up, I would watch Allen Iverson YouTube videos 24/7. He was an undersized, shifty guard who played with confidence and made great decisions. Secondly, I would watch Chris Paul; he is a pass-first point guard but can also score the ball at his own will. Lastly, Russell Westbrook, he is arguably one of the most athletic, if not the most athletic, in the league.

“His ability to finish and defend sets him apart in my opinion. By watching all three of these players and breaking down videos, I have tried to mold my game around them to make sure I am a well-rounded player.”

She has put some of these tools together this year to aid her team to a 10-5 overall record and 3-2 record in the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference (through games on Thursday, January 16). Bunker Hill is currently tied for third-place in the conference with Draughn and West Iredell.