Congratulations on 1,000 Points Lauryn!

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Congratulations to Lauryn Cross for eclipsing the 1,000 point mark for her career.  Below is the article from the News-Gazette 1/15/18:

URBANA — “Grandma” has got game. The “mother hen” ruled the roost. Each is a way of saying Lauryn Cross tallied her 1,000th career point last week for the Urbana girls’ basketball team.

Both of those names have been bestowed upon Cross — the former by Urbana coach Chris Mennig, the latter by the athlete herself — in her role as the Tigers’ lone upperclassman. They’re both meant in good fun, but also show the impact Cross has had while transforming into a bona fide leader for her squad.

That goes beyond Cross’ scoring plateau, which she reached during last Thursday’s Big 12 Conference showdown at Normal West.

Cross nailed a three-pointer in the second half to up her offensive output from six to nine on the evening, en route to 21 points by game’s end. Immediately afterward, Mennig called a timeout — much to his point guard’s bewilderment.

“I was just thinking in my head, ‘Why did you call a timeout? We were on a run,’” Cross said. “I was confused. And then the man made the announcement that I hit my 1,000th point, and I was like, ‘Well, that’s cool.’ And then I was like, ‘Oh, I did.’”

Cross and Mennig both described the brief celebration that followed as an emotional one for Cross, who is trying to guide the young Tigers through a 4-11 season. And that’s on the heels of a 2016-17 campaign in which Urbana went 2-27 after 11 IHSA-enforced forfeits resulting from two athletes not conforming to the organization’s residency bylaws.

“For any kid that’s given that much time to the sport, that’s one of those check-box list things that they hope to be able to achieve,” said Mennig, in his second year heading the Tigers. “I’m happy for her that she was able to have that memory.”

Cross said Mennig’s involvement with the Urbana program has provided a major boost on the court.

The Barton (N.C.) College signee admitted she was “kind of a hot head” in her first two prep seasons, but Mennig coming to town prior to Cross’ junior year helped her focus that passion on improving — both as an individual and teammate.

“I was able to connect with him,” said Cross, who was averaging nearly 11 points per contest entering the affair with Normal West. “He let me develop. My IQ got bigger. And I think the biggest thing is he helped me be a leader, and that surpasses everything. I feel being here and being with a team that looks up to you, that was a big thing.”

Mennig believes it can be difficult for high-schoolers to adapt to a position of leadership, but he said Cross has done so with aplomb given she competes alongside seven girls who are in either their first or second year with the team.

“She’s definitely the safety net for them, and I can’t argue with that,” Mennig said. “We’re trying to get her to embrace that and not be as frustrated with some of the growing pains of so much youth. For her to take pride in that and use that time to help build the people around her up — that’s how the good leaders become great leaders, when they can raise the level of those around them up.”

Knowing she’d be the obvious elder stateswoman on this Urbana unit wasn’t even the biggest challenge for Cross this season. Running plays from the point, she said, her natural inclination is to offer as many assists as possible. True to form, her 5.4 assists average is far and away the top local mark.

But Cross has adapted, making herself a go-to option when the ball needs to swish the net.

“It was a big turnaround because … I knew I needed to get to the board,” she said. “I feel like I have to score because that’s what you need. You don’t get points unless you put the ball in the basket. During my individual workouts, I knew I had to incorporate that into my game, which is kind of hard now because I still want to be assist, assist, assist. But sometimes you have to put the points up.”

That helped Cross speed to the four-figure production mark with five regular-season games still on the docket. But she isn’t satisfied with that accomplishment. There’s at least one more mission Cross has her eye on before she heads east to compete in Division II college action.

“Of course it’s been tough, and everybody talks about our losing,” Cross said. “But I feel like we’re getting prepared for the next round. Our goals are far more than winning against (Champaign) Central, Centennial, but especially winning a regional title. I want to do that before I leave.”

Mon, 01/15/2018 – 11:51am | Colin Likas