Freshman Star Melvin’s Coolness Under Fire Helping Stuart Basketball to Promising Start
FRESH APPROACH: Stuart County Day School basketball player Nia Melvin puts up a shot in recent action. Last Wednesday, freshman guard Melvin scored 12 points and had nine rebounds to help Stuart defeat Princeton High 40-18 in the opening round of the Stuart Invitational Tournament. A day later, Melvin contributed 17 points and 11 rebounds in a losing cause as the Tartans fell 46-42 to Trinity Hall in the semis to move to 6-2. Stuart, which was slated to face Villa Walsh on December 29 in the third place game at the tourney, will start 2018 action by hosting Trenton Catholic Academy on January 3 before playing at Lawrenceville on January 5 and at Trinity Hall on January 6. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Nia Melvin has kept a cool head in assuming the starting point guard role for the Stuart County Day School basketball team this winter as a freshman.
“My role is to get the right people the ball at the right time,” said Melvin. “I try not to get too excited.”
Last Wednesday, Melvin produced an exciting performance to help Stuart defeat Princeton High 40-18 in the opening round of the Stuart Invitational Tournament.
“We put a big emphasis on defense because defense wins championships,” said Melvin, reflecting on a game which saw the Tartans jump out to an 18-8 halftime lead and never look back. “We came into the game knowing that we wanted to stop this team because we knew that they were good shooters.”
Utilizing a press that stifled the Little Tigers, Stuart was able generate points from turnovers.
“Our offense starts from defense,” added Melvin, who ended up with 12 points, four assists, nine rebounds, and six steals in the win over PHS. “I think our team did a good job of taking control of the game.”
While Melvin displays a calm on the court, she relies on senior star Jalynn Spaulding and junior standout Bey-Shana Clark to provide her with guidance.
“They are great mentors and are people I look up to on the team,” said Melvin. “They help me when I am struggling with a question of how the game works or how to react to something.”
Stuart head coach Justin Leith appreciates the great work he has been getting from Melvin.
“Nia is fantastic, she is a calming influence,” said Leith. “She is calm on the floor no matter what is going on. She is cool under fire. She is a great kid and a great addition to the school and the team.”
In the win over PHS, the Tartans showed calmness as they patiently broke down the Little Tiger defense.
“It was different, I don’t think we have had a game like that this year where they really packed it in like that on defense,” said Leith.
“I liked that because it made us have to work our offense and make the other team play defense and really work the ball from side to side.”
While Spaulding took a while to adjust in the contest, she ended up with 12 points, five assists, five steals, and six rebounds.
“Jalynn would rather have an up-and-down tempo game because she is so athletic,” said Leith.
“In the second half she came alive. She started the second half with that three and that got her going.”
The gritty play of Clark in the paint helped keep things going in the right direction for the Tartans.
“Bey-Shana just does what she always does,” said Leith of Clark, who contributed eight points and 11 rebounds. “She is great. She goes to the boards hard, she shoots the ball well. She is a great all around player and she is consistent.”
While Stuart fell 46-42 to Trinity Hall in the semis, Leith enjoys the atmosphere around the Invitational which features games being played simultaneously on adjacent courts.
“We wanted to have two games going on so people who want to watch basketball can poke their head in on one or the other,” said Leith, whose team moved to 6-2 with a loss to Trinity Hall and was slated to play Villa Walsh in the event’s third place game on December 29. “It is fun.”
Melvin, for her part, believes that the Tartans can have a lot of fun this winter if they keep playing hard.
“Our biggest thing has been defense and pushing the ball,” said Melvin, who will look to keep up her good play as Stuart starts 2018 by hosting Trenton Catholic Academy on January 3 before playing at Lawrenceville on January 5 and at Trinity Hall on January 6. “We are a fast team, so we try to keep pushing.”