Columbia Missourian, Prep Sports, Sports

Battle girls basketball takes solace in improvement, rising leadership

O’FALLON, Missouri — Cheyanna Weaver spent her junior and senior seasons helping build the foundation of the Muriel Williams Battle High School girls basketball team. After a 55-32 loss to Wentzville-Holt on Tuesday in the Class 5, District 4 tournament, it was time to move out.

Weaver, a senior, struggled, scoring five points for Battle (13-13), but sophomore Maya Mouton added 10 points with eight rebounds to be a lone bright spot for the Spartans.

“This will be our new leader,” Battle coach Angela Roberds said afterward, setting her hand on Mouton’s shoulder. “We’ve got a strong nucleus coming back.”

Weaver, eyes red with tears, gave Mouton a hug.

“I honestly thought that this day would never end,” Weaver said. “Then it was a real slap of reality.”

“Cheyanna Weaver is a rock,” Roberds said of Weaver’s past two seasons. “She’s the heart and soul of this team.”

Weaver highlights the Spartans’ senior class. She’s the first girls basketball player from Battle, a school that’s 2 years old, to sign a scholarship to play college basketball. She’ll play at Missouri Valley next season.

She was also Battle’s first undisputed leader, helping quarterback the offense from the floor and taking the fight to defenses with a hard-charging drive and fearless jump shot. Her flowing red hair has become a calling card.

“Play like a red head,” Roberds shouted at her team during an early-season practice.

Mouton transitioned into that role midway through the season, eventually supplanting Weaver as Battle’s top scoring option.

Mouton said Weaver helped push her into that position.

“She’s always encouraging me to shoot and drive,” Mouton said.

On Tuesday, Holt zeroed in on Mouton defensively. Holt forwards Allison Meyer and Michon Forrest gang-rebounded early on. They kept Mouton to two points through the first quarter. Meyer exploded offensively for 10 first-half points.

“They knew she (Mouton) was our go-to scorer,” Roberds said, “and they always had somebody on her.”

On the perimeter, Holt outran the Spartans. Point guard Mel Taouil had 12 points and pushed the tempo, keeping Battle on its heels.

By the fourth quarter, Mouton found her footing. The Spartans started on a 7-0 spree that cut their deficit to single digits. Meyer answered with a layup, Holt’s Jillian Starke nailed a 3-pointer and Taouil split a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.

Roberds said she took solace in her team’s improvement, though, and the steps Mouton took to become the team’s new building block. She said she thinks Mouton will leave Battle in two years as the Spartans’ first 1,000-point scorer and leader in rebounds and blocks.

“That’s a lot of pressure,” Mouton said. “I know I won’t be the only leader, but that’s a lot of pressure.”

Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.

http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/185897/battle-girls-basketball-takes-solace-in-improvement-rising-leadership/

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