When looking for the biggest contributor on the basketball court, people's instincts typically lead them to look at points scored. While someone scoring 40 points is typically noticeable, sometimes the person leading the way is focused on the more unsung aspects of the game.
Sumter High's Shamira Andrews is a prime example.
The undersized forward for the Lady Gamecocks prides herself on doing the little things, even it if means she isn't often at the top of the list of Sumter scorers.
Her performance as SHS opened region play last week didn't go unnoticed, as she was named the Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week.
"It was such a big accomplishment," Andrews said of the recognition. "I'm very thankful for it, especially my teammates helping me out with the votes. It means a lot."
That team support is earned by being a selfless player who does whatever she can to help get wins, even if it doesn't always show up on the stat sheet. That's what head coach Jeff Schaffer appreciates the most about his senior forward.
"The big thing with Shamira is that she's not caught up in statistics," Schaffer said. "The statistics she's really good at right now don't really get measured in a box score. You don't see all of the little intangible things like diving for loose balls, getting the extra rebounds. Everyone just wants to see points, and she's not too concerned with that. She just wants to do what she can do to make the team better."
The Lady Gamecocks played a pair of home games last week, facing Oceanside Collegiate on Tuesday as their final tune-up before opening their region against Socastee on Friday. The importance of setting the tone in Region V-5A wasn't lost on Andrews.
"Our gameplan going into Oceanside was making sure we were able to open region play with a good tempo and a good mindset," Andrews said. "We wanted to come in strong so our opponents know we're ready to compete. My gameplan coming in against Socastee was just to know my role and be impactful on the floor knowing that I had to go up against players that were bigger than me."
After a solid game against Oceanside, Andrews played an excellent game against Socastee. She faced a big challenge with Socastee's Anna Reese Pratt at 6'4", but the senior is used to facing physically imposing competition during her years of deep playoff runs with the Lady Gamecocks.
"I think the big thing is just being able to get on the topside of every player, just being faster, being quicker when being small," Andrews said. "My size is such a disadvantage in this game, so that was a big impact."
Andrews finished with 10 points and 16 rebounds despite that size disadvantage. She also did a lot of the little things that coaches love to see from their players like tipping passes or diving on loose balls. She had seven steals and four blocks in the two games last week on top of her scoring and rebounding.
"Coach always talks about (doing the little things) and, knowing that I don't put up a lot of points, continuing to know my role and being able to do those small things like boxing out that don't show up on the scoresheet," Andrews said. "All those little things matter to me."
Schaffer said Andrews was able to perform as well as she did last week because she's developed a great sense for the game with her anticipation.
"The biggest thing was, and I think she's getting better and better at this, is she's anticipating where she should be and how the ball is coming off the rim," Schaffer said. "She's using her athleticism and her speed to get to where the ball is coming off the rim instead of just trying to jump and go after it. That's something that can be hard to teach.
"And she wasn't afraid to go up against this 6'4" post player from Socastee. She wasn't backing down because people were taller in the post. And now that she's performed like that, I told her she has to keep performing like that. As a senior, she has to do that if we're going make a run in the playoffs."
The malleability that Andrews has shown this season has been crucial for a team that needed to find a slightly different identity early in the season. The Lady Gamecocks have been without star point guard Kiara Croskey, who is still recovering from tearing her ACL this spring.
While Sumter has a lot of experience on the roster, they're still very young. Andrews is one of just two seniors, and she's been tasked with helping young post players like seventh-grader Araina Ross and a pair of freshmen centers learn the ropes.
"As she's become a senior, she's become a leader for me. With a young team, that's pretty important," Schaffer said. "I've pushed her hard this year that she has to be able to lead on and off the court. She needs to be the first one at practice and the last one to leave, and she needs to make sure all the little details that we don't see as a coaching staff are taken care of in the locker room. She's done that, and she's gained that confidence to be able to do that.
"I think it's huge for those younger kids to know that someone can step up to the plate and do those kinds of things."
Andrews is proud of the way she and the Lady Gamecocks have been able to learn from each other early in the season and find success without their All-State point guard.
"The chemistry has been getting better on the court. Without having an extra guard, it's been tougher for our younger guards because they're all still young," Andrews said. "Having them step into their roles and know their roles and watching them get better has been very impactful."
Sumter also has a chip on their shoulder because of how they've been viewed from people outside of the program. Despite having several players who saw the court in Sumter's state championship appearance two years ago, including Andrews, and making a run to the final four a year ago, the Lady Gamecocks were ranked No. 10 in 5A coming into the season because Croskey was injured. They've climbed up the rankings throughout the season, making it to No. 4 this week, but they still have seen those rankings as a slight.
"It's always about playing with that chip on your shoulder and knowing what you bring to the floor and what we're capable of doing as a team," Andrews said. "We work every day to get better to show that we deserve to be back where we were last year and continue to play with that chip because we have everything to get back where we were last year."
Andrews thinks Sumter is capable of making a run through Region V-5A, especially if Croskey is able to get back into the lineup. Friday's win over Socastee was just the first step.
"It feels great knowing we have the ability to make a run and the work ethic to get it done," Andrews said. "With our guards being where they are and everyone stepping up to the plate, it's very possible."
More Articles to Read