Bryan basketball player Penny Watson aims to become a neonatal nurse because she wants to work with babies. It’s probably a coincidence that Watson got a dose of neo-basketball experience with the Lady Vikings.
Watson is a senior who has played for the Bryan varsity since she was a freshman. She was one of five Lady Vikings who were forced to grow up in a hurry as freshmen on a team depleted by graduation and the opening of a second high school in the BISD.
The Lady Vikings’ long, difficult road has led to a berth in the state playoffs, Bryan’s first since 2010. The Lady Vikings (14-9, 6-3) are assured of a postseason bid with three games left in the regular season, starting with the second round of the Crosstown Showdown against red-hot A&M Consolidated (23-6, 8-1) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Viking Gym.
“It was definitely hard playing as a freshman,” Watson said. “Stuff that you get by with in middle school doesn’t work up here. We were used to things coming easy and it was a totally new game.
“It’s been a struggle, and I’m proud of my team for having already clinched a playoff spot. It makes this a lot sweeter because we can look back and see how hard we worked.”
Watson averages about 10 points per game, one of several players capable of leading the way any game for a balanced team.
“She’s been working on her shot for three years,” Bryan coach Beth Jesurun said. “About midway through last year it really started to show, and this year she’s really hit her stride.
“She is a very good leader for us. She’s a smart kid, an honor roll student. She pulls kids together from all different areas.”
Last fall, Watson worked as an intern at the ABC Women, Children & Family Clinic in College Station. Her duties included updating the clinic’s database, checking patients’ vital signs and administering flu mist to infants.
“Since I was little I always wanted to be someone who helped children,” Watson said. “At first I wanted to be a pediatrician, but I realized that I really like working with babies, newborns to age 1.”
Watson and the Lady Vikings are third in 14-5A, one game ahead of Lufkin (5-4). Bryan faces a difficult end to the regular season with the rivalry game against Consol followed by a trip to Lufkin on Friday and then the home finale against The Woodlands (19-8, 9-1) next Tuesday.
The game against Lufkin will carry major playoff seeding implications, but there is no chance of the Lady Vikings looking past their game against Consol, a program Bryan has not beaten during Watson’s years on the varsity.
“It’s a do-or-die situation for us, our last chance to play them, and we want to go out with a bang,” Watson said.
NOTES — This will be Bryan’s designated Pink Out Night, with the Lady Vikings gathering donations to present to the American Cancer Society. ... Officials will monitor the weather and road conditions before deciding whether to postpone the game until Wednesday. ... Consol put itself in contention for the district championship with a 60-45 win over The Woodlands on Saturday. The Lady Tigers won the first round of the Crosstown Showdown 57-43 at Tiger Gym.