I spent an afternoon with the Portland Christian Lady Eagles during a practice last week. After appearing in last season’s Louisville Invitational Tournament and having a few momentous wins during the regular season they are back and looking to make another run. Head Coach, Jason Bragg, and the staff were training the healthy while a small chunk of the team is fighting through some bouts with seasonal illness. Most of the team returns this season and the team is putting in the work to be their best before games get going at the end of the month.
The Lady Eagles suffered one of the last (hopefully) casualties of COVID in the Commonwealth by being forced to forfeit their chance to play in the Finals of the 6th region All “A” Classic. There are no guarantees they would have advanced but you hate to see anything of that sort settled anywhere but on the court. The team has the potential to be better this season through the play of some veterans and newcomers to the roster.
– CG – 5’3″ – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’23
In 25 games last season
She is quite a dynamic player. She can score the ball in nearly every way imaginable (except the dunk, of course). She has in her bag of skills the floater, the teardrop, and the step-back jumper. She can get herself open on the slide step, spin move, with a hesi, rocker-step, or explode by your with the speed dribble. She is creative with the ball in setting up herself or her teammates for open jumpers and I have enjoyed watching her play since she was in the 6th or 7th grade.
During a scrimmage two weekends ago she was back to making three-pointers from 3 to 4 feet deeper than the line and digging in on Defense to disrupt the dribbler. It was great getting the chance to see her using her shifty, ballhandling skill to drive into the paint and seeing her be able to play off the ball due to the addition of another Point Guard that was added to the roster. It was almost as nice as seeing her handle the Point without having to be a primary scorer was for me this past summer.
– CG – 6’0″ – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’23
Ballard is another college-bound (Campbellsville-Harrodsburg) player on the roster. She has been a great addition to the team averaging 15.5 points and 4.2 rebounds per game and a team-leading 48.9% field goal shooting. When she isn’t firing up the three or driving to the hoop she is doing all of the intangibles. She is a good shot blocker and defender on and off the ball and an excellent ballhandler to help push the ball into the frontcourt and push the tempo for a team that likes to play fast.
She is skilled and versatile, with great length and an unfaltering demeanor. She is the steady rock to Heid’s flashy explosiveness. She is especially effective as a spot-up shooter and I think she might see better production with the addition of the new Point Guard to help distribute the ball. Any increases to her 29.1% three-point shooting will add additional scoring pop to a team that averaged 54.4 points per game.
Reagan Mulvey – PF – 5’10” – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’24
Mulvey knows and plays her role on the team well. She is an interior defender, rebounder, screener, and reliable scorer that is showing signs of improvement every season. In practice, she was working on post-up moves and drills for scoring around the basket. Her size and her selflessness are huge assets for a team that is not blessed with much height.
She walls up on defense, boxes out, and has surprising ballhandling skills that I had not seen her employ before. She does an excellent job passing the ball, especially on the outlet pass that is so important to getting a good fastbreak started. She pulled down a tough rebound in the scrimmage and kept the ball moving while mobbed by defenders trying to take it away. Her ball movement made the ensuing outlet pass and began a scoring attempt for the team.
Addie Bragg – SF – 5’9″ – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’25
Bragg is an excellent defender and a highly versatile forward. I think she is the X-factor player on this team. If she can step up her game to cover much of what was lost by the graduation of Larrisa Brooks it could be very key to the success of the season. She has all of the skills and a high basketball IQ. So I don’t see it as much of a leap on my part to see her filling that niche on the team.
Last season, she contributed 5.2 points per game and is the returning leading rebounder at 5.9 rebounds per game for a team that rebounds by committee. She was the most consistent free-throw shooter on the team. making 76% of them or 19 of 25. I believe she could be in for a breakout year.
She was working o finishing with either hand around the hoop, she looks to be quicker with and without the ball and is a better dribbler and passer than what I have seen in the past. Multiple times I saw her penetrate into the lane or rebound the ball and then kick it out to an open shooter. An already reliable player she will be more reliable and more useful than she was last season.
Piper Scott – PG – 5’3″ – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’25
This is the new Point Guard I have referenced a couple of times above. I think Scott opens the Lady Eagles up to many possibilities by being able to take much of the ballhandling load away from their best scorers. She will also add another quick perimeter defender into the mix. Her presence at the very least takes some of the workloads off the shoulders of the other Guards on the team and adds valuable depth to the roster. I have discussed other potential benefits to other players above.
She has a quick first step and drives hard to the hole. She is a good finisher and can knock down the three-pointer. In the scrimmage, she showed that she is a good on-ball defender and did a great job pushing the tempo on offense. During dribbling drills in practice, she put on quite an exhibition of skills. I have been very impressed with what little I have seen from this player.
Ruby Heid – PF – 5’10” – Portland Christian – Louisville Trojans – ’23
Heid was not able to be at practice on the day I was there and due to an injury suffered in the 1st game last season I was unable to see her play last winter. But I did get to see her a little during the scrimmage and I can see why COach Bragg was so disappointed to lose her last year (beyond concern for her health of course).
She is not afraid to mix it up and is a good athlete with a good-looking shot. Before the injury, she grabbed 6 rebounds in her one appearance. Most likely she would have completed the game with more than this and very likely could have been a great “Windex” player for the team all season. Who can say how much else she would have contributed beyond that?
Ava Gish – CG – 5’5″ – Portland Christian – ’26
Gish is a good defender who hustles and has good ball skills. She is going to be an important player off the bench for the team this winter.