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 Randleman’s Audra Petty takes a shot between Asheboro’s Sion Murrain (15) and Malaika Khan on Dec. 5. Petty scored 24 to lead the Tigers to a 52-45 win.   Eric Abernathy/Randolph Hub

Petty steps up her game to offset loss of seniors, injured teammate

RANDLEMAN — Adjustments have to be made by any high school basketball team which hopes to have a successful season. In-game and in-season changes often lead to the success the team enjoys throughout the course of a season.


Audra Petty and the Randleman Tigers girls varsity basketball team had to make a big adjustment and it came even before the ball was thrown up for the first game of the new season.


There were already known adjustments for the new campaign as Steve Rightmyer took over a program that had previously been led by Brandon Turner, who was 103-20 in his five seasons. There was the adjustment of losing two of the most gifted players in the area in Gracyn Hall and Elizabeth York to graduation.


But with the high-scoring Petty returning aided by junior Gracie Beane, who showed glimpses of brilliant play last season, the Tigers were anxiously awaiting the start of the year.


However, another adjustment had to be made, one that affected Petty, Rightmyer and the entire team. Beane went down with an elbow injury during summer workouts and isn’t expected back until at least after Christmas.


Meanwhile, roles on the team suddenly shifted. Everyone had to adjust, including Petty, who had to do much more of everything. And she has performed very well early on as the Tigers took a 3-2 record into Tuesday’s game with Oak Grove.


Petty is averaging 24 points per game, a significant step up from her 8.2 scoring average as a junior. She is averaging more than eight rebounds a game and takes the ball up the floor on occasion.


Of course, with Hall and York gone, Petty knew she would become the No. 1 offensive option.


“I was looking forward to stepping up and being a leader, helping all my teammates,” said Petty on preseason expectations. “I knew I had to shoot more than just the three-ball. This season I had to do more. Attack and pull-up jumpers.”


And rebound, and provide interior defense and handle the ball and just about everything else.


“It does put a lot more on her,” Rightmyer said of the expectations for Petty. “Everybody is going to game plan against her. We expect a lot of box-and-ones. We prepare for that and know it's coming. It has put more on her but it has helped her develop as a leader and facilitator. That is one part of her game that is really getting better.”


Petty is quick to give credit to her teammates, including junior guard Chenleigh Robinson and sophomore guard Kadie Green. The two have been thrown into the fire so to speak and the improvement the young backcourt has shown from early workouts is impressive.


“Chenleigh and Bella have really stepped up and you can see the improvement  from the summer,” said Petty, who has committed to the University of Lynchburg. “We have to get better at ball handling and not turn the ball over. But you can see the improvement and we just have to keep getting better.” 


With the emergence of Hall and York during her first three years with the Tigers, Petty played her role to perfection. She averaged 10.5 points as a freshman, 9.8 points as a sophomore and 8.2 as a junior with most of those points coming from outside.

Now her role has changed. 


“We kind of had to rework a lot of stuff we wanted to do,” Rightmyer said after the Beane injury. “We had to adjust our entire offense. We went from two returning girls who could go from either side of the floor, who could provide balance and experience, to some girls who had to step up even though they didn’t have a lot of experience.


“Audra does have to do a lot more and she has been great. She’s a tough girl, a competitor. She embraced the challenge. She is helping the other girls get better.”


That is showing on the floor.