By Tom Robinson
As the only National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I committed player currently active in District 2 basketball, Lauren Charlton has been prominent on opposing teams’ scouting reports
The attention that goes into trying to limit Charlton’s shots has been less productive lately, however, as Charlton has worked her way into a late-season groove, finding and hitting her shots at the highest rate of her high school career.
Charlton credits her Dallas teammates’ ability to hurt opposing defense too intent on stopping her with helping create more space for her as the season has progressed.
“Every game, I am very heavily guarded, but it opens up everybody on our team and I think it’s also helping us a lot because teams are realizing that they can’t only guard me now,” said the 6-foot JB Hoops alum, who plays all over the court, but projects as a wing player in the Ivy League at the University of Pennsylvania. “We have so many other players who can score and play great defense and be just great players overall.
“I think other teams are starting to realize that, which is fun and very exciting.”
Charlton’s talents were on display in the past week when she hit 13 shots from 3-point range and scored 91 points in four games, the last three of which were won by the Mountaineers.
Those efforts made Charlton the PNC Bank District 2 Player of the Week for the time period ending Sunday.
The only loss of the week for Dallas came in overtime against Wyoming Valley West, 51-46, despite 26 points by Charlton. After losing two of its previous three games, Dallas got back into a groove beginning Wednesday with a 47-31 win over Pittston Area behind 24 points and three 3-pointers by Charlton. She scored nine in the fourth quarter to break open a three-point game.
“Everybody on our team just has great positive energy, so we’re very lucky to have that,” Charlton said. “There’s no negativity around us. We all lift each other up.
“Right after those losses, it definitely stings a little bit, but we’re right on to the next game.”
Dallas made it three wins in four days when Charlton had 16 points Friday in a 55-46 victory over Crestwood, then 25 more with five 3-pointers in Saturday night’s come-from-behind, 53-46 win at Williamsport.
Charlton, who averages more than 16 points and 2½ made 3-pointers a game on the season, also made opponents pay for that extra defensive attention by going 20-for-23 from the line during the week.
With her sophomore and junior high school seasons cut short by injuries to each shoulder, Charlton made much of her progress as a college prospect playing the past two summers for the JB Hoops National girls AAU team under late coach John Bucci. She added to her shooting range and accuracy as well as the ability to get shots off quickly while closely defended.
That combination of skills has been at its most effective in the recent stretch.
“Teams are starting to realize that I’m not the only scorer on the team, so they’re beginning to spread out a little bit more,” Charlton said. “But, I’ve also been taught by coach Bucci and (Dallas) coach Kelly (Johnson) and basically my whole team that ‘shooters shoot’ and no matter how much you’re missing, you have to keep shooting because you’re not going to fix it if you stop.
“I just keep my head together and all my teammates are very uplifting.”
Together the Mountaineers have become a title contender. They are second of eight teams in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 with an 8-2 record and are second of 11 teams in the District 2 Class 4A seeding race with a 15-3 overall record.
“This season has been very exciting,” Charlton said. “We’re all having a great time and trying to have fun with it, but it’s also been stressful at times because most of our games are very close and go right to the end.”
The PNC Bank Player of the Week award is the second for Charlton, who was also honored in the opening week of her sophomore season.
Lauren is the daughter of Dr. William Charlton and Dr. Lynne Coslett Charlton of Shavertown.
Others considered for the weekly award were: Susquehanna’s Mackenzie Steele and Wilkes-Barre Area’s Allycia Harris.
Steele, another JB Hoops alum, had 36 points in two games. She scored 17, including the 1,000th of her career, in a win over Forest City and 19 more in a loss to Holy Cross in a game between ranked teams.
Harris scored 66 points in three games.