When first-year coach Chad Novelli took over the Central Crossing girls basketball program, he started looking for someone to help convey his direction for the Comets.
He found that player in Georgia Lakso.
The senior has returned to the court after spending last winter honing her skills in her chosen sport, soccer. However, Novelli likes the hard-working, bulldog mentality shown by the 5-foot-5 guard.
“Georgia is just a gamer,” said Novelli, who coached at Jacksonville (North Carolina) Northside for five seasons before moving to central Ohio. “When the ball goes up, you know you will get a ferocious, intense, fiery, pedal-to-the-metal effort.
“She will push the ball and play the game hard. She’ll do what she can to get to the basket. She’s fast and quick but also savvy at the same time. She is a strong-willed young lady, and she has a competitive edge that every coach wants a player to have.”
Through 17 games, Lakso was averaging team highs in points (8.3 points), assists (2.7) and steals (2.4). She also averaged 3.3 rebounds.
“Georgia brings a better pace and a faster tempo to our game,” said Novelli, whose team was 3-14 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Pickerington Central on Jan. 28. “She extends the defenses and forces teams to put a guard back to stop transitions. She has a fierce, competitive approach to the game.”
Lakso started for the Comets as a freshman and sophomore. She’s thrilled to be back playing basketball.
“I missed it a lot with a year off while focusing on soccer,” she said. “The energy around here is great, I love it.
“The coaches are really pushing us and it’s been great. They push us with the drills we do. We go hard and 100 percent.”
The Comets face stiff competition in the OCC-Buckeye. The six-team league includes three teams ranked in the Division I state poll from Jan. 25. Reynoldsburg was second, Pickerington Central was ninth and Newark was 13th.
“It’s difficult playing these tough teams,” Lakso said. “We may get beat and the scores may not show it but we’re working really hard and getting better. We work really hard in practice and games.
“From (Novelli), I learned that nothing will happen overnight. It takes a couple of months and a lot of hard work. I think we’re more competitive from the first scrimmage until now. We compete with the high-level teams we’re playing.”
Lakso shares point-guard duties with junior Lydia Kimmel. She has to figure out how the Comets will attack opposing defenses.
“I have to slow the game down and read the defenses,” Lakso said. “Right from the time I bring the ball down the court, I have to see what defense they are in and call a play. A lot of girls can’t recognize that so I do a lot of that.”
Lakso has not made a college selection, but would like to continue playing soccer at the next level. She earned first-team all-league honors as a junior and senior.
Being a leader for the soccer program has helped Lakso take the reins in basketball.
“I see myself as a leader and pushing all of the younger girls,” she said. “This is a pretty young team.
“I use the same (leadership) skills (from soccer) when I’m working with my teammates. These girls have a little more experience than the ones in soccer. A lot of them have played basketball before so they know what’s going on.”
Novelli is pleased with Lakso’s performance on and off the court.
“Georgia is a lead-by-example type of player,” he said. “She does her talking with her play. She leads by bringing energy to the floor. When she gets the ball, she goes.
“When she has to step up vocally, she will. She’s giving her all on every play and the other players feed off of that.”
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Girls Basketball: Lakso sets positive example for Central Crossing