January 12, 2010 9:17:00 AM
Tyler White is ready for anything.
If the Heritage Academy boys basketball team needs a rebounder, he will be there.
If the Patriots are having an uncharacteristic cold shooting night from the perimeter, White will take that as a cue to sharpen his scoring touch for as long as needed.
If his teammates or coach Bruce Allsup needs someone to set the example in practice or to offer a teammate encouragement, White will do whatever he can to ensure everyone is going in the same direction.
That attitude and work ethic paid dividends last week for the Patriots, as White helped lead the team to five victories, including three wins at the Kirk Academy Invitational that led to championship.
For his efforts, White is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
White, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior forward, scored 18 points in a 62-43 victory against Oak Hill Academy on Saturday night in the title game of the invitational. The victory was the second in six days against the Raiders for the Patriots (13-4). White had 11 points Monday in a victory in West Point.
White also had 20 points Tuesday in a victory against Starkville Academy and 14 points against Pillow Academy on Saturday morning that helped the Patriots advance to the title game.
"It''s all about team chemistry and working hard together and understanding each other," White said of the team''s success this season. "Our expectations for this year are way higher than last year. We hope to go real deep in the playoffs and win the state championship. We''re going to work as hard as we can to do that."
White said the Patriots'' ability to have a different leading scorer every night makes that goal of winning a state title more realistic. Last week, he said he just tried to do what was best for the team to help it remain perfect.
"Some games we''re shooting really good, and shooting is not my role, so I just try to rebound and get loose balls," White said. "Some games we''re not shooting too good and that''s when I try to score my points."
Allsup said there is no doubt White is a "lunch pail" kind of player who is willing to do anything he can to help his team win.
"The good thing about Tyler is every night you''re going to get 110 percent each time he hits the floor," Allsup said. "I think the other kids kind of feed off that. They look up to him for leadership, and they know when we''re in trouble they''re saying in the huddle that we have to get the ball to Tyler."
Allsup said leadership is White''s greatest quality. He said his ability to keep working in the post helps balance Heritage Academy''s perimeter attack that includes Cole Walker, Will West, and Will Swedenburg.
Allsup said White doesn''t have as attractive a shooting stroke as some of his teammates, but he labors in the paint, which is what the Patriots need.
"He is the kind of guy who is going to put his hard hat on and go to work," Allsup said. "He is a great leader. He has his life in perspective. He has a great faith with the Lord, and he has a great relationship with all of his teammates. He is a perfect role model, and all of the young kids in the school look up to him because of that."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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