Sinkler’s offense carries Lakewood in Zaxby’s Tip-Off Classic

Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week


Lakewood’s girls basketball team comes into the season with a lot of youth. Needing some experienced leadership, the Lady Gators turned to senior Stevye Sinkler when they opened their season in the Zaxby’s Tip-Off Classic at Scott’s Branch. Sinkler’s offensive performance carried Lakewood to one win and nearly to a second. In the process, she was able to earn the Hines Furniture Athlete of the Week.
“I’ve never been up for one of these before, so even finding out that I was nominated really meant a lot to me,” Sinkler said. “I got a lot of support to help me win.”
Sinkler was happy to be back on the court. A torn ACL and meniscus robbed Sinkler of her sophomore season and COVID-19 limited her junior season to a dozen games. Being back on the court with fans in the stands was important.
“It felt good because last year, we barely had games because of the pandemic,” Sinkler said. “Being on the court full-time and getting to have a crowd feels good.”
Sinkler put on a show in two games over the weekend. She averaged 20 points a game, along with five assists and two steals per contest. As Lakewood’s most experienced player, she felt the need to put the team on her back.
“It’s my senior year, so I don’t have no time to waste because I’m trying to get into college,” Sinkler said of her fast start to the season. “I’m not going to get these games back, so every time I step on the court, I have to go hard. I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do and dominate the opponent.”
The Lady Gators also trust Sinkler with the ball in her hands. The senior point guard appreciates having teammates that have confidence in her.
“Everybody on the team respects me and they know I strive to be great and that I’m trying to go to college,” Sinkler said. “They respect me, they listen to me and they know that I want to make them better too. I love my teammates and I can’t wait to finish the season strong with them.”
Lakewood head coach Altroy Staley appreciates having an experienced player to lead this young group.
“I think we’re blessed to have a senior of Stevye’s caliber,” Staley said. “She brings great leadership and is a very good offensive scorer. She’s a good shooter, she attacks, she understands defenses. It’s a luxury and a blessing to have someone of her talents.”
Lakewood’s toughest game of the weekend came against Scott’s Branch. The Lady Gators lost a defensive battle 40-37, but Sinkler did everything in her power to keep them in the game. She scored almost half of Lakewood’s points with 17, including six in the deciding fourth quarter. She was frustrated with the loss, but happy to get an early test.
“They are a running team. They really worked us. I like playing games like there where it’s tight,” Sinkler said. “It was hard because they made us work, but they at the end of the day they scored more points than us because we let them.”
Across both contests, Staley said the most impressive thing about Sinkler’s performance was her ability to set the pace of the game.
“She played with pace and understood the moment and the situation,” Staley said. “When we needed a basket, she had the freedom to attack and she knew when to get her teammates involved. Just being an overall floor general, she did really well this weekend. She’s basically my coach on the floor.”