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Alexandria’s Beard branches out

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Lorraine Beard is no longer just a 3-point shooter.

The Alexandria junior guard needed to evolve into a more well-rounded player if her basketball team was going to glean much success this season. She is one of only two returning starters from last year’s squad and had to take on more leadership responsibilities.

“I’ve played a completely different role this year,” Beard said. “It’s not all about making a shot and scoring to help my team. It’s more about creating the shots for my teammates and finishing when I get an open shot.”

Beard, who is Alexandria’s all-time leading 3-point scorer with 130, led her team last season to its first Frontier League title in 10 years and was selected to the Times All-North first team.

“Last year we ran a lot of plays to get the ball to her,” Alexandria coach Dave Hollis said. “And this year we’re trying to incorporate everyone and she has the ball in her hands a lot more than she ever did last year.”

This season, Beard has scored 235 points, including 36 3-point goals, and is averaging 14.7 points per game.

Beard says she believes her best accomplishment is becoming more versatile.

“I was always known as the one who would shoot outside and make all the threes,” Beard said. “So once opponents got that down, they could guard me outside. This year I’ve driven the ball a lot more and that creates an inside game for me and an outside game, which makes it harder for the defensemen.”

In seventh grade, Beard was chosen to play on the JV squad. She was then brought up to varsity as a freshman, where she made an immediate impact.

“I would definitely give all the credit to my family because I have a lot of supporters who come to my games,” Beard said. “And my dad, ever since I was young, he had me out dribbling on the sidewalk as soon as I could walk, pretty much. He was my coach until I reached junior high.”

While the love of basketball was ingrained early on, so was the desire to excel in the sport. Beard is constantly aware of what she and her team need to do to succeed.

“She’s quite a complicated young lady,” Hollis said. “She’s upset when I don’t have practice. She wants to play all the time. And she’s concerned about a lot of things. She worries about the JV program, she’s concerned about next year. And it’s all basketball with her.”

Perhaps Beard’s drive comes from being raised on her grandparents’ farm. She was handling hay bales by age 7 and milking cows by age 10.

Her maternal grandparents, Richard and Sheila Morrow of LaFargeville, operated a dairy farm for over 40 years, retiring a few years ago.

“Growing up on a farm makes you have a different perspective on life,” Beard said. “It makes you a hard worker for sure. It makes you more dedicated toward the things you want to do because if you have a good work ethic, it’s going to make you more driven toward your goals and want to succeed.”

The farm also became a good place to shoot baskets.

“I set up a hoop in my grandparents’ hay mow, so I used to play in the barn in the wintertime,” Beard said.

Beard isn’t used to sitting the bench during basketball season. But she endured more than two weeks of watching her team from the sidelines after suffering a concussion last month.

The time off the court did help her gain a fresh perspective.

“I hated watching because I always wanted to get up and help,” Beard said. “It definitely made me open my eyes to what the coaches and the fans see from the bench. And it helped me realize what we needed to do in order to win.”

Beard’s head injury happened during a home game versus LaFargeville on Jan. 18.

“There were four minutes left in the game,” Beard said. “I was going up for a layup and I drove between two people, and one leg wrapped around the other and I kind of flipped in the air and just couldn’t catch myself and came down on my head.”

Beard finally sought medical attention four days later.

“I didn’t think it was anything to really be worried about,” Beard said. “But I started having symptoms like feeling dizzy and getting light-headed easily and just having that pain.”

Beard missed two games but was back in time to help Alexandria defeat Sackets Harbor in the league semifinals. Alexandria had lost to Sackets twice earlier in the season. Beard is feeling much better except she says she can still feel a soft spot on the back of her head.

“During the semifinals I hit my head a little bit and it brought back the memories,” Beard said. “But I’m too passionate about the game to let it affect me when I’m playing.”

Because Beard has been her team’s greatest scoring threat the last three seasons, opponents target her with extra pressure and she gets banged around a lot.

“At one point in the year she was just one big bruise,” Hollis said. “For every team that’s their goal, to stop Lorraine.”

Alexandria (9-9 overall, 6-7 league) lost to Copenhagen in the league championship game on Monday.

The other top contributors for the Purple Ghosts include senior Rachael Calhoun, who has averaged 9.4 ppg, and sophomore Hannah Lynch, who chips in with 9.2 ppg, including 21 3-pointers this season.

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