The term sophomore slump seems to not apply to Howard Payne University guard Chelsey Harris, who has become an integral part of the Lady Jackets this season.
After starting only four of 23 games in 2017-18, the additional minutes Harris received so far this season seem to have paid off with her reaching double digits in scoring in eight of 10 games this season.
“I’m just trying to work to be better from last year and doing whatever I can to help my teammates,” said Harris, who American Southwest Conference officials named to the all-freshman team last year. “I’m just playing my part. It’s been tough, but I’m learning as we go. It’s turning out pretty good. Players are starting to look up to me as we go and it’s a really big role. It’s shocking, but I can’t let them down.”
After averaging a respectable 6.1 points per game last season, Harris has come on strong near the midway point of the 2018-19 season more than doubling last season’s numbers with 14.5. She currently sits atop the leader board in scoring, 50 points ahead of junior Anastasia Willis, and near the top in all other statistical categories. She scored a team-leading 14 points in the during Howard Payne’s most recent 78-62 victory over LeTourneau.
“We just worked together as a team and that is what it came down to. When everybody is on their games – the guards and posts – everything goes well,” Harris said. “We just have to execute, make good decisions and try not to force anything. When we’re calm and have our composer, everything goes well.”
Keeping her composer was a lesson Harris had to learn early while seeing significant time her freshman year. Only months removed from her senior year at Midway High School in Waco, Harris faced players in some cases four years her senior and found the game much faster paced than what she grew accustomed.
“I didn’t think if they were sophomores or juniors, I just played my game and that lead me to do well,” Harris said. “Whether you’re DI, DII or DIII, we all play the same sport. God blessed us all with the skills to play basketball. I just went out and played my game.”
With only two seniors expected to graduate this spring, Harris believes the Lady Jackets have plenty of time to develop into a high-caliber program and after seeing what they’ve done so far the sky is the limit for her team.
“You have to keep working for what you love to do. When we put our minds to it, we can get the job done,” Harris said. “Some people might doubt us, but we keep our eyes on the prize and know where we want to go and what we’re going to be … Being a young team and playing as well as we have I think we’ll be great in the future. Yes, we’re young, but we have some good girls and as we grow and get better we’re going to be a great team.”