Coming into the season, Dawson-Boyd's Justine Lee wanted to make improvements on her game.
After a strong performance against Lakeview on Tuesday night, the sophomore is well on her way.
"I knew I needed to drive to the hoop more and improve on my shot this year," said Lee.
Lee scored a game-high 20 points against the Lakers to complement her eight assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in an effort to keep the Blackjacks unbeaten on the season. They're off to the best start since the team went 8-0 to open the 2005-06 season.
Dawson-Boyd trailed the Lakers 25-23 at halftime and went on to outscore Lakeview 44-19 in the second half of what turned into a runaway win.
"We kind of struggled in the first half a little bit," said Dawson-Boyd head coach Randy Haakenson. "But she came out and set the tone. She was all over the place."
Lee, who was named All-Camden Conference a year ago, knew that if she wanted to improve this season she was going to have to put in the time during the offseason.
"I played AAU for the Northern Lites all off season last year," Lee said. "It's tougher competition and you travel to a lot farther away places to play.
"I like basketball a lot. I think if you want to get better at it, that's what you have to do. "
Haakenson sees a lot of positives from the extra court time for his young player.
"She just does so many things so well. She shoots the ball well, she passes the ball well, she takes care of the basketball, she plays aggressive defense," Haakenson said. "She's a complete ball player and I think her statistics showed that."
He also sees that though she has natural talent, she doesn't waste practice time.
"I think part of it is her strong work ethic," Haakenson said. "She works hard in practice all the time and we always tell our players you have to make what you do in practice count in games."
A big part of the game that Lee feels improved a lot in the offseason, which doesn't show up on the stat sheet but can play a major role in any game, is confidence.
"I get many compliments from my coaches and other people, and that just helps my confidence go up," Lee said. "I think playing in the offseason really helped my confidence because you can take those shots you don't know if you would take in the regular season."
And that confidence spills over into everything she does on the court.
"I think one of her assets is a court sense. She always seems to have a nose for where the ball is going," Haakenson said. "She's a great on-the-ball defender and she makes it difficult. She always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
"I think another thing is that she's a good outside shooter,"?Haakenson added. "She shot 52 percent from 3-point range last year. When she drives to the basket, it's like she has another gear. She slashes to the basket and nobody can catch her. She has that quick first step to the basket."
But talent aside, Haakenson sees one trait that he thinks will take her very far.
"I think maybe her strongest asset is she's so humble. She doesn't want any attention," said Haakenson. "I've encouraged her to accept it because she's going to be recognized over the next couple of years."