This season, the Clearwater junior could depend on her teammates to share the load.
By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 17, 2002
CLEARWATER -- Before every road game, whether playing across town or around the state, eyes latched on to her. Most already knew who she was, and the few who did not would take one look at the 6-foot-1 frame and figure it out quickly.
"Pssst, that's Dominique Redding," went the murmurs.
She heard them all.
"Yeah, I could walk around the gym and tell they're looking at me," the Clearwater junior said. "You also get the nasty looks, like 'She thinks she's all that.'
"I like that, because I have a challenge every night. It might not be physically, but it's always mentally. Can I rise above what they're throwing at me?"
Most Tornadoes opponents found out the answer. Through her first two prep seasons, Redding built a reputation as a terrific player. This year she only enhanced it, helping her team to 33 wins, a state runner-up finish and, for the second time in three years, county Player of the Year honors.
But this is not a story of a giant rising above a team full of average Janes. This year, Redding was more like the biggest piston in a high-horsepower engine -- and she loved every minute of it.
"My teammates, they're a good group. It took a lot of pressure off of me," said Redding, who averaged 21.9 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. "I didn't have to score. Once I got adjusted to that, everything was fine."
Redding's reputation often drew double-teams, but opponents quickly learned that playing three on the other four Tornadoes was a losing proposition. With dependable senior Kasie Muchler, sophomore 3-point specialist Karley Counts and a host of talented freshmen, Clearwater's rotation was much more than one player.
That one player was happy to share the load, and the season went all the way to the state title game, where Clearwater lost to Hollywood South Broward.
"It's special, not many people get to do it ... but we still should have won that game. It's bittersweet," Redding said.
With that in mind, Redding is hitting the weights to fortify an inside game she said was disappointing from a rebounding standpoint. Redding loves to live on the outside -- she was among the top 10 3-point shooters in the county -- but agrees with coach Tom Shaneyfelt's assessment of her future.
"Dom's a two-guard in her bones, that's what she really wants to be and that's what she's always been growing up," Shaneyfelt said. "She understands that we need her to get inside a lot for us."
Don't put it past her to do just that next year -- Redding will still hear the murmurs, and likely thrive on answering every one of them.