Zion Lutheran sophomore Kanesha Battle averaging a career-high 28 points alone would have been a headache for opponents.
Add freshman Brianna Battle (21 points per game) and eighth grader Tyesha Battle (12 points per game) into the mix and it’s easy to see why defenses have had little luck figuring out which Battle sister to stop first.
The Battle sisters have lived up to all the hype surrounding their ballyhooed arrival by lifting upstart Zion Lutheran (8-1) to its best start and onto the Class 2A state title radar.
“Kanesha, Brianna and Tyesha are the real deal,” said Zion second-year coach Tony Rini. “It is amazing to see how well they pass the ball and turn steals into points. It’s like watching college kids play.”
Rini said the Lions’ jump to state contender starts with Kanesha, who has maintained her torrid scoring average despite constant double teams and other creative defenses designed to get the ball out of her hands..
“I like playing under pressure,” Kanesha said. “It is my advantage against everyone. I build momentum for the team with my scoring. They feed onto that. I’m just proud to help Zion make a name for itself.”
In what has become the norm, the Battle sisters accounted for 58 (Kanesha 30, Brianna 20 and Tyesha 18) of the Lions’ 87 points in a victory over Highlands Christian on Tuesday night.
Through eight games the trio combined for 54 of the 80 points Zion Lutheran averages.
While most teams base their fast break opportunities on defensive rebounds and turnovers, the Battles’ athleticism and chemistry developed playing in AAU leagues together allow them to run on made baskets as well.
The result is a lethal fast break attack, fueled by the Battles, which buries opponents early.
Zion Lutheran cruised through eight blowout victories before losing 79-69 to Class 3A contender Sagemont on Wednesday, despite 25 points from Kanesha.
The next big test comes Dec. 13 when the Lions travel to face Class 2A power Grandview Prep (6-0), a District 13-2A rival and the Lions’ biggest roadblock to what would be their first State Final Four appearance.
Grandview, which lost 53-49 to eventual Class 2A state champion FAMU in the state semifinals last season, is led by 6-5 center Vionese Pierre-Louis, an Oklahoma signee who averages 24 points, 14 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
“We will make the regionals for sure,” said Rini. “We are in there with Grandview. I think we can play with them. It will be an exciting game. They have a 6-5 girl as their biggest advantage. We’re going to run with them. I’m not changing our style for them.”