Pats' Lytton overcomes height challenges

Herald File Photo
Heritage Hills sophomore Hadley Lytton isn't the tallest basketball player around, but has made an impact in helping the Patriots to a 10-4 record entering play Thursday. 

By JONATHAN SAXON
jsaxon@dcherald.com

LINCOLN CITY — Heritage Hills sophomore guard Hadley Lytton has experienced vertical issues all her life.

Standing just more than 5 feet, 4 inches tall, Lytton has always been one of the smaller players that gathers around the court for a basketball game, but Lytton doesn’t let her lack of height get in the way of playing her best. She just figures she has to do a little bit more to stake her claim on the floor.

“I don’t let it bother me,” she said. “I don’t really notice that I’m that much smaller than other girls. I just have to work a lot harder to get around them, make sure I’m playing 10 times harder to make up for that height.”

That work included a lot of free time spent learning how to maneuver around the floor in ways that utilize her speed advantage, as well as sharpening her eye from the outside so she could shoot over those that clog the paint. The other girls may be bigger, but that doesn’t matter if they can’t stay in front of her and keep her out the lane. Years of trial and error have produced a player that has the impact of a grenade when Lytton decides what she wants to do with the ball.

“I have to make sure that I’m explosive,” she said. “(I’m) able to change speed and direction a lot faster so that people that are bigger are a lot easier to get around.”

“She can figure out what you’re trying to make her do and do the exact opposite,” added Heritage Hills coach Kim Brown, who mentioned that for all she knows Lytton has been dribbling a ball since the day she was born. “She’s able to get to the rim better than most players. When she lets the game come to her, there are times when she can pick apart any defense that’s thrown at her.”

So speed is what Lytton uses to kill her opponents’ defensive will and intensity as she weaves around the floor like a jersied tornado. Yet, what happens when the other teams try to crowd her with double teams, presses and the like? Well, beyond driving to assault the rack, Lytton also has a heavy interest in using her speed to open the floor for others around her. Once teams wake up to how fast she is and try to adjust their methods to close off the lane, Lytton shifts her focus to charging into the teeth of the opponents and looks to dish to the open teammate.

“I like to drive (and) create for everybody,” she said. “If I do get inside, I like to kick the ball back out. I like getting to the rim. It produces for other people.”

In a game where height is valued at a premium, it seems speed is another way for those who aren’t as inch-gifted to make their mark on the court. Lytton demonstrates as much every time she laces up, but she’s more than just a burst and a trail of dust. She’s also improving at knocking down shots from the perimeter and learning how to make smarter gambles on the defensive end too. However, all of those factors are tied together by Lytton’s deep understanding of the game and how she plays it.

“She’s sneaky smart,” said Brown. “Because she’s such an intelligent basketball player, she knows what to expect, and she can anticipate two or three passes ahead sometimes. She takes her opportunities when she can. She’ll turn around and sneak back to steal a pass under the rim or something like that.”

Being just a sophomore, Lytton still has a lot of growing to do. Whether she shoots up like a beanstalk in the next couple years is anyone’s guess. As for the growth she can control, Lytton is working towards being a better leader on the floor, so she can help the Patriots achieve to the highest degree while she dons their jersey.

“If I’m working hard, everyone’s going to see that and they’re going to be working hard,” said Lytton. “I really like to communicate and keep everyone in the game. If I go out and do all I can, it’s going to show. Everyone else is going to do the same.”




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