HAMMOND — Courtney Blakely grew up a little bit over the summer.
No, the Bishop Noll sophomore didn’t add any height to her 5-foot-7 frame, but the daughter of former WNBA player and Lew Wallace legend Angela Hamblin spent the offseason working on personal growth.
Blakely played up a year on the Midwest Elite 16-and-under team on the Nike Girls Elite Youth Basketball League circuit. Playing with older teammates allowed her to learn how to work on the mental aspects of her game, something she’s eager to display in her second season with the Warriors.
“Last summer was really about becoming a better leader,” Blakely said. “I played up so I could work on my leadership skills. I know there are days when I can have an attitude and knowing that people depend on me, it helps keep me straight.”
While playing with Midwest Elite, Blakely said she spent the summer “working hard on being great.”
The point guard already had a reputation on the basketball court when she arrived at Bishop Noll, partially due to who her mother is, and partially due to her strong middle school career.
Blakely didn’t disappoint, leading the Warriors with 17.3 points per game, while helping to upset North Judson in the Class 2A regional semifinals. Bishop Noll lost to Central Noble in the regional finals, a loss that Blakely took into the offseason.
“In season, that’s when a team is made,” Bishop Noll coach Vanita Golston said. “Outside of the season, that’s when a player gets made. Courtney put in a lot of work during the offseason to become a better player. She really developed her (basketball) IQ this summer.”
The sophomore scored 14 points in the first quarter during Bishop Noll’s 66-42 win over Boone Grove on Nov. 17, but then she took a backseat as teammates Rose Fuentes and Lalia Rogers began to heat up. Blakely finished with 24 points, five assists and five steals.
“Our team is very close,” Golston said. “They understand that we share the ball and when we do that, everybody eats.”
Blakely can do it all on the basketball court, but what she learned from her freshman season and from playing with older girls on Midwest Elite is that she doesn’t have to do it all.
“It’s very important (to have balance),” Blakely said. “I’m not the only one out here trying to get a scholarship.”
The colleges are beginning to inquire about Blakely’s services, although official contact can’t be made until she is a junior.
“I have thought about colleges and playing at the next level, but honestly, I don’t really know anything right now," Blakely said. "I’m focused on becoming a better leader and a better basketball player. EYBL gave me a push. It showed me I could actually do this (play in college).”