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Badger takes over at point

Junior Alicia Badger is growing in her role as the Pirates' on-court leader.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

Alicia Badger watched videotapes of last season's games and saw the same old mistakes.

An errant pass. A careless turnover. Teammates out of position. She saw plays develop too late, too early, or not at all. She saw all of Pasco's flaws.

But most of all, the Pirates junior point guard saw herself ... not doing anything about it.

That had to end.

"Watching those games over the summer, I saw people would do stuff and I would know they're doing it wrong, but I wouldn't say anything," Badger said. "Coach feels sometimes he can't approach them about some of these things, so I figured I need to do that, and when I do that, we improve and we become a better team."

A better team at 16-5, and a more responsible team as well.

"Now they know they have a say in everything we're doing," Badger said.

But no Pirate has a bigger say than the 5-foot-3 Badger, who leads second-seeded Pasco into Tuesday's Class 3A, District 10 tournament at Mulberry.

Statistically, the Pirates can't ask much more of Badger, who is averaging a Pasco County-leading 19.3 points per game. Physically, there's not much else to demand of a point guard who jumps for the opening tipoff before each game and leads the team in blocks.

But mentally, coach Tony Vasquez wanted her to take greater control of her team and teammates out on the floor.

"Just now she's learning how to communicate with the players," Vasquez said, "as opposed to yelling directions."

Part of it was just the natural maturation process. Badger, after all, was a sophomore last season, one still learning to see the floor and the game develop.

"Her court awareness, it's not where it needs to be, but it's going to be," Vasquez said.

Badger has also learned how to make her teammates better. As a playmaker, as an on-court leader, Badger is learning to elevate her teammates.

"It's nice the way she picks up everyone else's game," Vasquez said. "The way she plays, everyone else steps up their game."

Said Badger: "Being a team leader on the floor means having leadership on the floor and keeping the team in check when they need to be kept in check, scoring when we need scoring and keeping people's heads up when we're not doing good, or whenever they need help."

The future for Badger looks bright. She has a 3.4 GPA and took the SAT on Saturday, so she'll be an "attractive package" for a college coach, Vasquez said.

But Badger wants more than that. At Pasco, it's hard not to star without inviting comparisons to former greats Jackie Pugh and Ebony Adams. Badger wants to be thought of in the same vein, but she knows she'll have to lead the Pirates back to the playoffs to do it.

"I want to be where Ebony and Jackie are," Badger said. "But I also want to exceed that."

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