LENOX -- There are many ways to be a leader.
Lenox senior forward Liz Mitts chooses to lead with a positive attitude and an upbeat personality.
Mitts' ability to provide a positive example is important for the young Millionaires, as they start two freshmen (Jaclynn Hathaway and Rose Pehlert) and an eighth-grader (Alice Najimy), and have several other underclassmen receiving minutes.
Lenox coach Nicole Patella said the players feed off the energy Mitts brings to the court.
"[Mitts] leads by example in practice, and she's a positive example in general," she said. "She's a very bright person to be around. She's always smiling, always upbeat, and the younger girls around her really enjoy her."
Mitts has a solid all-around game. The senior can grab rebounds, handled the ball, is deadly from mid-range and with her back to the basket. She's the focal point of the Lenox team, and still manages to rank in the top three in the county in points, points per game and free throws made.
For the Lenox girls, the season has been one of progress, with the young players learning to play together.
"In the beginning of the year, they'd pass in to [Mitts] and kind of watch her," Patella said. "But now we're getting them to move off the ball, so that she has an outlet to go to. She'll find the open person."
Unselfishness is another of Mitts' qualities that her teammates find endearing. Hathaway said having Mitts as a teammate makes playing basketball even more enjoyable.
"I love playing with Liz; she's amazing," she said. "She brightens everyone's day. She comes in ready to play, and makes everyone want to win."
As the Millionaires continue to gel, Najimy and Hathaway's growth will be key to take some of the pressure off Mitts.
Najimy's role as a ball-handler will be key when facing teams (like South Division foe Hoosac Valley) that like to use pressure, and Hathaway has shown the ability to be a secondary scorer.
"Alice Najimy is only an eighth-grader, but she's really coming along well," Patella said. "She's very mature beyond her years."
"I'm really proud of the eighth-graders and ninth-graders, especially for stepping up so much," added Mitts. "Their roles this year have big huge. Especially compared to what it's been in the past for girls that young."
Mitts said she's enjoyed her five years playing under Patella, and appreciates the support she receives from her.
As the season heads for the home stretch, Mitts said she hasn't decided whether to continue playing basketball at the college level, or to focus strictly on academics.
For now, she's just enjoying the game she's been playing since she was young.
"The best thing about basketball is being with a great group of girls and having fun with it," she said. "I've loved this sport since I've been playing in kindergarten."
To reach Akeem Glaspie:
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