CULVER — Patrice McBee is all grown up.
Not just in a physical sense — although at 6-foot-3, the Culver senior is certainly that, too — but spectators of Lady Cavaliers basketball have seen McBee’s game reach new heights recently.
At last week’s Bi-County Tournament, McBee scored a combined 49 points in three games — including a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in Culver’s championship game against Oregon-Davis — leading the Cavs to their first tourney crown in more than 15 years and garnering MVP honors in the process.
“We’re just really excited,” McBee said following Saturday’s championship win. “This is our senior year, our only time playing for the championship, and we knew we’d have to beat a hard opponent, which OD is. We’ve played for four years together, and we’ve gotten to where we really trust each other. We played defense hard, and that was the key to winning the game.”
While the Bi-County may have been her coming out party, McBee’s double-digit scoring streak stretches back for five straight games. She averaged just better than nine points per game in her first 12 outings this season, but has been putting up 16 ppg in that latest five-game stretch.
First-year Culver head girls basketball coach Tony Scheub said that, while her progress has been gradual, her 13-point performance in a Northern State Conference win at Triton on Jan. 14 signified a change.
“We played Triton before the Bi-County Tournament and she was good in that game and then at the Bi-County Tournament, it was just — not a different person, but she took herself up to a different level of play,” he said. “It was fun watching her play this past week.”
Not only have McBee’s considerable physical gifts given Class 2A, No. 8 Culver a lift on the offensive end, but they’ve also helped with the Cavs’ rebounding and pressbreaking — something that came in handy against the turnover-minded Class A, No. 4 Bobcats — and on the defensive end, as well, as McBee and company have limited opponents to less than 40 points in five of their last seven games, including a 64-12 blowout of Caston in the opening round of their own holiday tourney Dec. 21.
“She’s turned into a really good defensive player for us,” Scheub said. “She sees the floor pretty well on defense, and she’s always able to get there and cut the ball off outside the lane, and when she gets big — I mean, she’s 6-3 and her arms are way up there so it makes it difficult for anyone to get a shot off. I would love to say that my defense is great and my philosophy is great, but it helps when you have a 6-3 kid in there controlling the lane, and you’ve got to give a lot of credit to how our defense has improved throughout the year to our post players.”
But while McBee’s athleticism and skills tell an impressive tale, Scheub said that’s not the whole story.
“As a person, she’s hilarious,” he said. “She does a little dance routine all the time for the girls to a song “Whip my hair”, and it’s hilarious.
“She just cracks me up, and I like her more every day so it’s kind of sad that the season is coming to an end, but we’re going to enjoy it as long as we can.”