Last summer, Calveion “Juicy” Landrum consumed herself with jewelry shopping.
It wasn’t a set of sparkly earrings or a diamond tennis bracelet that caught Juicy’s fancy. She had a far more specific and extremely more rare gem in mind — a state championship basketball ring.
“During the summer, or it might have been the first part of the year, Juicy came to me and said that she saw Mexia’s (2013) rings on Instagram,” La Vega coach Amy Gillum said. “She said, ‘Coach, we’re going to get one next year.’ Those were her words.”
Landrum and the Lady Pirates delivered on that promise. Exhibiting leadership and an innate feel for the game that belied her age, La Vega’s sophomore point guard captained the Lady Pirates to a perfect 35-0 season and the Class 3A state championship. As such, she’s the clear choice as the Player of the Year on the Tribune-Herald’s annual Super Centex team.
When your nickname is Juicy, it makes sense to squeeze every drop out of a season, and Landrum did just that. She covered the court like a crate of spilled Minute Maid, overwhelming opponents both defensively with her sticky backcourt pressure and offensively as the engineer of La Vega’s transition game and half-court sets.
“That’s why we’re undefeated. She was the captain of our ship,” Gillum said. “Everything ran through her, and she did a great job. She would get people the ball when they needed the ball, she would keep the ball, wouldn’t keep it as much as I’d like her to sometimes, but she ran a great ship. Everyone was on board.”
Landrum did a bit of everything for La Vega, averaging 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 steals per game. She even ranked among the area’s leaders in blocked shots as a 5-10 guard with 2.1 per game, displaying a knack for swooping in behind defenders for surprise swats.
But it was Landrum’s area-high 6.0 assists per game that truly befuddled foes. She handed out gifts like Santa Claus, adeptly breaking down defenses before dropping off no-look dishes to talented teammates like Yasmine Evans, Faith Dimerson and Erin DeGrate, the latter a first-team Super Centex star in her own right.
“I just like to show everybody that I’m not a selfish basketball player,” said Landrum, whose speaking voice is softer than the offertory hymn.
On the court, her game echoes above the rafters. She was the catalyst for La Vega’s frenetic full-court press, which frustrated opposing guards into loads of turnovers.
“They would start throwing the ball away, start yelling at their teammates,” Landrum said.
Landrum was the District 17-3A co-MVP, the MVP of the regional and state tournaments and now the Super Centex Player of the Year to boot. All those awards listed her full given name, even though it catches her off guard whenever anyone calls her “Calveion.”
So, what’s the secret ingredient behind the fresh-squeezed nickname?
“When I was a baby, I was a fat kid,” Landrum said, laughing. “That’s what everyone calls me now. I just ignore people if they call me (Calveion).”
Call her Juicy or Calveion or Miss Landrum, but call her champ. She’s got the ring to prove it.
Coach of the year
For great teams, there should be a deodorant for complacency.
It’s hard not to get bored when you’re up 35 or 40 points. The temptation is strong to take a night off, to grow lazy or apathetic.
La Vega didn’t need any kind of antiperspirant product to guard against complacency creeping in, however. The Lady Pirates had Amy Gillum chirping in their ears all day, every day.
“She kept telling us, ‘You haven’t done nothing yet.’ We got tired of hearing it,” said point guard Calveion Landrum. “It was every practice.”
“I always say I’m a broken record,” Gillum said. “I would always tell them — excuse my grammar — we ain’t done nothing. We haven’t won district, we haven’t won regionals, we’re not state champions. So I always reminded them of that.”
Gillum, the Trib’s Super Centex Reggie Davis Coach of the Year, kept a carnivorous bunch of players hungry and motivated all year long, and the end result was a 35-0 state championship season.
La Vega lost to eventual state champion Mexia in the regional quarterfinals in the 2012-13 season, and that defeat served as the sendoff wind to the Lady Pirates’ sails for 2014.
“I really feel that Mexia game is what drove us to do well,” Gillum said. “I kept it on their minds, and they did it.”
La Vega didn’t set out to go undefeated, Gillum said. That was just the cream gravy on the chicked-fried steak. The state title was the primary target from the first preseason practice onward.
It was especially sweet for Gillum, who played on the last La Vega team to reach the state tournament some 20 years ago. That team made back-to-back state appearances, whereas Gillum’s current bunch will try to win consecutive state championships next year with a team returning all five starters.
Of course, she won’t be able to use the same old “you haven’t won anything” mantra.
“They’ve already told me,” Gillum said. “I’m already thinking of things to say, that I’m locking up in my little book to say to them.”
Newcomer of the year
To smoothly jump from eighth grade basketball to starring for the high school varsity requires quite the vertical leap.
For Mart, Adrianne Rauls soared.
Rauls, the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year, didn’t shrink in the face of that elevated competition, averaging 16.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.1 steals in her freshman year.
Granted, going up against 17 and 18-year-olds still took some getting used to.
“It was faster. The other girls were used to it, because they’re older,” said Rauls, the District 19-1A MVP. “I had to adjust.”
Rauls’ confidence grew after a breakout performance in an early nondistrict game against McGregor. By the end of the year, she was boldly taking it to the hoop and consistently scoring, despite essentially playing out of a position as an undersized 5-7 post player.
“I coached her as a middle school player, and I knew she was special,” said Mart coach Jerry Hoffman. “She’s got the ability to not only play inside, but handle the basketball as well. Being able to get in transition and get to the basket, she had the skills necessary to catch the ball and be able to finish. That’s an area we struggled with a little bit in the past, so having a player like her who could actually handle the ball and finish was really big for us.”
Rauls bested a strong crop of newcomers for the Super Centex honor, including Rosebud-Lott freshman guard Keauna Whitfield (14.0 ppg, 10.4 rpg) and Midway sophomore forward Marie Benson (13.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
2014 SUPER CENTEX GIRLS’ BASKETBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Calveion Landrum, La Vega
Newcomer of the Year: Adrianne Rauls, Mart
Coach of the Year: Amy Gillum, La Vega
Pos Player Ht Cl School
G Calveion Landrum 5-10 So La Vega
G Ann-Marie Dunlap 5-5 Sr Crawford
G Tiara Tatum 5-3 Sr Fairfield
G Reagan Jaro 5-5 Jr Robinson
G Ashlyn Bell 5-4 Sr Lorena
F Kailey Cavanaugh 5-11 Sr Troy
F Jae Moore 6-0 So Frost
F Lindy Burks 5-8 Sr Evant
F Mandy Adams 6-0 Sr Groesbeck
P Erin DeGrate 6-4 Jr La Vega
P Tayla Taylor 6-1 Sr Marlin
P Savannah Martinez 5-8 So Riesel
G Jordyn Villa 5-5 Sr Crawford
G Keauna Whitfield 5-7 Fr Rosebud-Lott
G Tee Owens 5-6 So Mexia
F Haley Boyett 5-7 Sr Robinson
F Diamond Ervin 6-0 Sr Waco High
F Marie Benson 6-1 So Midway
F Ainsley Richardson 5-9 Sr Fairfield
F Ty DeGrate 5-8 Sr China Spring
F Faith Dimerson 5-10 Jr La Vega
P Lauren Amy 6-0 Sr Axtell
P Bristen Gilpin 5-11 Sr Blum
P Te’Davon Landrum 5-7 Sr Chilton
Honorable mention: Alex Turner, Axtell; Hope Thomas and Kaydee Jean, Blum; Isis Russell and Andee Little, Chilton; Kellie Carpenter, China Spring; Jesslyn Poole, Katy Baur and Ellen Whitney, Crawford; Bree Bossier, Fairfield; Diana Rios, Frost; Jacoya McCullen and Skye Foy, Groesbeck; Yasmine Evans and Kobi Gill, La Vega; Abbie Gee and Cassidey Crye, Lorena; DeEthel Davis, Mart; Essance Porter, McGregor; Soroya Hollie, Mexia; Presley McKethan, Robinson; Lexi Newman, Grace Serr, Mills Chenot, Parry Thompson and Audra Atchley, Vanguard; Jennifer Geren and Sara Nieman, Whitney
17-3A offensive MVP led area with 82% FT shooting
Ballhandler Increased 17.7 scoring average to 24 ppg in playoffs
Hot shooter buried 114 treys en route to 15.1-point average
So, La Vega
Do-it-all Player of Year engineered state title run
Four-year starter and 19-3A MVP averaged 12.3 points, 5.2 assists
One of best rebounders, Adams snatched 14.2 boards per game
Scorer averaged 25 points on way to District 28-1A MVP
Double-double machine put up 21.9 points, 13.7 rebounds
Polar Bears are 53-7 in Moore’s 2 years; averaged 20.4 ppg
Jr, La Vega
17-3A co-MVP dominated paint, shot 60 percent from field
23-2A off. MVP guided Riesel to first playoff berth in two decades
Force led Lady Bulldogs with 20.6 ppg, 12.8 rpg, 3 bpg
Newcomer of Year, district MVP made smooth transition
Alumnae pushed right buttons in 35-0, state year