He’s up to the challenge

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

January 6, 2014

Chase Wardlaw was ready for the spotlight.

As the LaGrange Academy Warriors prepared for the 2013-2014 season, it was obvious that Wardlaw was going to be the team’s center piece.

A year ago senior Mayokun Oshinowo was the Warriors’ number one option, and he capped a spectacular prep career with a big year.

As a new season commenced, the Warriors were going to have to find a way to fill that scoring void, and Wardlaw has obliged.

Wardlaw has had a brilliant senior season, averaging 28 points per game, and in a game earlier this season he reached the 1,000-point plateau for his career.

Wardlaw knew he needed to take on a more significant offensive role this season, and he has embraced that.

“In past years we had Mo (Oshinowo), and Nick West and all that,” Wardlaw said. “I just had to play my role. This year I had to step up to it. I feel like I’m prepared for it. I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job with it.”

The 6-foot-5 Wardlaw, who does much of his damage inside but also has a deft outside shooting touch, has been putting up big numbers since Day 1.

“I think I can score whenever I feel like it,” Wardlaw said. “I’m really comfortable offensively.”

Britt Gaylor, LaGrange Academy’s second-year head coach, said Wardlaw is a team-first player who is always looking to get his teammates involved.

Gaylor said his message to Wardlaw coming into the season was to look for your shot, to be aggressive on offense.

“He’s always been an unselfish player,” Gaylor said. “It took me a little bit to push him to be more selfish. He’s done a good job accepting that role, and leading the team that way.”

It’s not just about the stats with Wardlaw.

Wardlaw has been playing varsity basketball since his eighth-grade season, and he has been a part of a lot of special moments.

No player on the team has more experience than Wardlaw, and he knows the other players are looking up to him.

“I’ve been trying to step up my leadership, and trying to talk more on the court, and get everybody involved,” Wardlaw said. “I think that’s what’s good about this team. Everybody has their role. Everybody plays their part.”

Gaylor said Wardlaw has taken that leadership role and run with it.

“The thing I’ve been impressed from last year to this year is his leadership,” Gaylor said. “He has come through for us in everything we do in practice, and in games. He’s almost an extension of me on the court.”

The Warriors carry a 5-3 record into today’s GISA Region 4-AA opener against Griffin Christian, and Wardlaw believes they have what it takes to do some special things .

“I think this team has a lot of fight,” Wardlaw said. “Everybody is really good, and consistent. I can put my trust in a lot of other players. I have trust in these guys. I think we can do some big things.”

One of those players Wardlaw has confidence in is his brother, Daniel Wardlaw, a junior guard.

Daniel Wardlaw is averaging 16 points per game and is having a big season in his own right.

“He’s my go-to guy,” Chase Wardlaw said. “If I’m having an off day, he can be the main one to go to. He’s done a great hob. He’s got a great shot. He’s a great contributor both offensively and defensively. And he rebounds.”