Anabel Blount

Prince of Peace’s Anabel Blount puts up a shot during the Irish’s non-conference game against Fulton.

Freshman year could have been a fluke.

Afterall, the Irish were so inexperienced that a freshman had to step up.

Even sophmore year could have been tossed aside to inexperience and lack of leadership.

As a junior, though, Anabel Blount continues to be an impressive forces for the Prince of Peace girls’ basketball team, proving it was no fluke at all. Through her three years, Blount has been a leader in every statistical category.

Freshman season, she averages 10.5 points per game for a winless Irish. She also led in rebounds and blocks.

Sophomore year it was 12.4 points per game and over eight rebounds, also leading the team with 31 steals.

Now, Blount is off to a phenomenal start to her junior campaign. She’s averaged 15.7 points per game through the first half of the season. She’s also pulling down nearly nine rebounds per game.

She wasn’t always the confident utility player you see and an upperclassmen. She, along with many of the Prince of Peace starters, have had to have large roles at the varsity level from freshman year on. That in itself is a lot to ask.

“Over the years I have gotten more used to it,” Blount said. “You can’t just put someone out on varsity who’s never played, because it is a different atmosphere. I’ve gotten used to it and now it’s like the only thing I know.”

Plus, Blount is a unique player. She’s not particularly tall, standing at just 5-08. She’s also not ever the speediest on the court.

What she does well is maneuver around the defense. Being left-handed helps.

“She’ a smart player,” Irish head coach David Nelson said. “She understands body position. In addition to that, he has a desire that most people don’t have.”

She jumps in and out of the lane for the Irish, also taking on some ball handling on the perimeter and occasionally launching and outside shot.

She’s improved on what shots she takes. She’s shooting 40 percent from the field this year. That’s compared to 28 percent her freshman year.

“She’s more confident and that’s probably the biggest thing,” Nelson said. “She knows she’s going to be attacked as far as defensively and she knows she need to lead as far as this team. She’s showing that day in and day out, in practice as well as in a game.”

Blount has also had to deal with that leadership role. She, along with a lot of the Prince of Peace squad, are not the vocal type. She’s on the reserved side, and has had to learn how to bring energy to her teammates on the floor.

She’s one of the first to be up and screaming, congratulating anyone who succeeds. That’s been a learning process.

“Freshman year, both volleyball and basketball, it’s been kind of a struggle for me,” Blount said. “I’m kind of the quiet one. It’s time for me to step up because I’m getting older and I need to be there for my teammates.”

She’s continued to work on her game day in and day out. She’s a multi-sport athlete for the Irish, excelling particularly at volleyball and basketball.

She says one of the things that sets her apart is what she does outside of the Joe O’Donnell Sports Center. She looks a lot to her parents, including her father who serves as an assistant coach.

She’s always evaluating her own game and trying to figure out what she can do better.

“After the game, they’re always giving me pointers,” Blount said. “Sometimes we’ll go outside, I have a hoop outside, and we’ll work on post moves or shoot free throws. It’s working with them and stuff I do myself.”

It’s not necessarily about the points, which she has plenty of (625 to be exact). When she’s off or double teamed, she can throw the assists and focus on rebounds all the same. She’s learned through the years with the Irish that it’s a lot more fun to play the game when you’re on the winning team.

“Ultimately, I just want to win the game,” Blount said.