TAMPA — When Jefferson point guard Jade Givens gave teammate Laurie’ Beaty a pair of thick-rimmed 3-D glasses for the school’s nerd day, Givens thought they were just a prop.
But Beaty kept the glasses, which Givens had from watching Avatar, popped out the lenses, and has made them an addition to her daily wardrobe.
“You know you’re not getting them back,” Beaty told Givens after a practice this week.
The drum to which the 5-foot-7 junior guard marches makes her Jefferson’s official team clown.
“You always know L.A. is going to make you laugh,” Givens said. “You can have a down day, but you know she’s going to make smile no matter what.”
Said Beaty: “I’m just kind of a goofy person. I wear weird things. I say weird things, like I say nifty all the time. Who says nifty? I just do things differently.”
But as Jefferson heads into Friday’s Class 4A state semifinal against Pensacola, it’s her game that keeps people guessing.
“The advancement she’s made in her game this year is unbelievable,” Jefferson coach Tom Mosca said. “She’s just played in total control this whole year. It’s been wonderful to watch her develop from last year.
“Last year, she tried to put it all on her shoulders. I think she’s more comfortable knowing her teammates have her back.”
Beaty is the leading scorer (15.4 points a game) on a team of weapons. She can drive to the basket and is the top perimeter threat. Mosca said she could average 25 points a game but, like her teammates, she has accepted her role in order to win a state title.
“We have more people who are willing to take a role that some people on other teams won’t take,” Beaty said. “I don’t think last year we believed in us as much as we do this year. We’re a much better and stronger team than last year. We’re more focused and more together.”
Pick your poison
Jefferson leading scorer Laurie’ Beaty is just one of the Dragons’ weapons. A look at some of the other contributors:
G Jade Givens — Senior captain and team quarterback has embraced role of true point guard. Has at least eight assists in eight of past 10 games.
F/C Shayla Wilson — 6-foot-1 junior has knack for getting rebounds and converting in the post. Averaging a double double (12.3 points, 10.1 rebounds).
F/C Bene’e Glanton — The team’s dominating defensive presence in the middle. The 6-foot-3 junior is averaging 5.7 points and 5.3 steals, shooting 58 percent from field in past four games.
F Chantrell Frazier — Lean sophomore might be the team’s best spot-up shooter. She averages nearly double figures (9.8 points ) and 3.2 rebounds.
G/F Shayla Upshaw — Up-and-coming talent is the first player off the bench for the Dragons. Scored team-high 19 against Orlando Boone.