Living up to the hype: Shanavia Dowdell

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shanavia Dowdell will graduate from Calera High School this May and start a new chapter in her life at Louisiana Tech in the fall.

Before leaving, however, the Lady Eagles&8217; star center has some unfinished business to attend to.

Dowdell said at the beginning of her senior season that her biggest goal before leaving for college was to win a state championship with the Eagles, an accomplishment she came one game short of in 2005.

&8220;That&8217;s what we want to do and I think we can do it,&8221; Dowdell said of the team&8217;s title hopes.

With more than half the season behind them, the Lady Eagles are playing impressive basketball, and Dowdell is playing nothing short of inspired. But her average of 25.1 points, 12 rebounds, 3.8 blocks and four steals per game mean little to her, Calera head coach James Knowles said.

&8220;Shanavia is such a team player,&8221; Knowles said. &8220;She&8217;s willing to do anything for us. She&8217;s a great rebounder, defender and powerful on offense.&8221;

Knowles said Dowdell has done more than just play good basketball.

&8220;She&8217;s a tremendous player athletically and a good leader as well,&8221; he said. &8220;She a great leader for the younger girls and demands a lot from her teammates.&8221;

Dowdell admits that her role on the team is riddled with pressure. But she also admits that pressure is a driving factor in her success.

&8220;I like the pressure,&8221; she said. &8220;It makes me have to hustle and play hard every game.&8221;

Sixteen games into the season, the Eagles have more losses than last year. But Dowdell chalks that up to the quality of Calera&8217;s opponents in 2005-06.

&8220;We&8217;re playing a lot tougher teams this season,&8221; she said. &8220;I definitely think we&8217;re better than last year.&8221;

Shanavia admits that her favorite game of her senior season so far was against Thompson in the Shelby County Invitational championship game back in December.

&8220;Everybody said that Thompson was going to blow us out,&8221; she said. &8220;And we lost by two points.&8221;

After graduation, Dowdell plans on attending summer school at Louisiana Tech before starting practice with the basketball team.

Her coach believes that Dowdell&8217;s team-first attitude is what earned her a spot on the Tech squad.

&8220;Playing here she&8217;s always been a real quiet leader and a very generous player,&8221; Knowles said with a smile, &8220;maybe sometimes too generous with the ball when she has an open shot though.&8221;

Knowles said he hopes Dowdell&8217;s senior season has helped her prepare to take her game to the next level but admits that Louisiana Tech wouldn&8217;t have batted an eye if they didn&8217;t think she was a high-caliber player already.

&8220;Everyone is good at the college level,&8221; he said. &8220;Schools are always looking for something that sets a player apart from the rest. I firmly believe that Shanavia has got that something.&8221;