Abby Hardie has Braves aiming for new heights as she makes some big adjustments on and off the court
by: Chase Allgood Banks forward Abby Hardie says that after playing guard for so long, she’s had to learn to get comfortable under the basket.

Abby Hardie's basketball season has been a time of change. The Banks High School senior has had to deal with her body growing faster than she expected, or even wanted it to. She has had to switch positions. And perhaps most challengingly, she has had to adjust to a new coach after playing the last two seasons for her father.

Through it all, though, Hardie has become the Brave's leading scorer and has made the team (11-3) one of the front runners for the OSAA Class 4A state championship.

'She's done a great job,' Banks coach Nick Rizzo says. 'It was challenging to start the season. She had a lot thrown her way. I don't think it took too long for her to realize that this will be fun, we're going to be good, we're going to have success.'

Hardie played under her father, Tim Hardie, her sophomore and junior seasons at Banks. After last season, though, he stepped down, in part because of other people's concerns that he would be coaching a team that included both Abby and his other daughter, Kayla Hardie, a junior post.

Her father's decision not to coach was difficult for Abby, who feels partially responsible.

'The way it went about was the hardest for me,' Abby Hardie says. 'It's really hard to be a coach's daughter and it's really hard to not talk to him like he's my dad. It would bug people and I knew it bugged people. And I just kept doing it. So I was a little bit of a part of it.'

For his part, Tim Hardie was concerned about how his decision would affect Abby. She quickly proved that she could handle it, though.

'We're a very tight family, both girls and Abby specifically,' he says. 'You just don't know how it's going to work out. But Abby is an extremely resilient young lady and determined. My wife, Judy, and I were very hopeful that she would just jump in and hit the ground running. And she's exceeded our expectations.'

While playing for her father, Hardie was a guard. Over the past two years, though, Hardie has continued to get taller and taller. She went from 5-foot-7 her sophomore year, to 5-10 her junior year, to 6-0 this year. Hardie says she is still growing, though, she hopes that will stop soon.

'I'm just growing by the minute it feels like,' Hardie says. 'I'd like to stop growing. At 6-0, I have the longest arms and the longest legs. I like the height I am now. But, I'd like to stop growing by 6-1, or 6-2. I don't know. That's just me. I'm a girl. I don't want to be taller than everybody!'

Because of her newfound size, Rizzo decided that Hardie could help the Braves most this season by moving to the four position. Hardie is still adjusting to playing down low, but knowing the mindset of a guard has helped.

'It's kind of scary because I'm someone who wants to dribble,' Hardie says. 'But, now when I get the ball, I'm under the hoop. They're giving it to me to put it away. It's good that I played guard because I know what the guards are thinking when they pass the ball to me and I can find the gaps.'

Playing the four, Hardie is leading the Braves with 11 points per game. However, Rizzo says that Hardie could be scoring a lot more if he was able to leave her in longer.

'If she were on any other team, she would probably average close to 20 (points) a night,' Rizzo says. 'We are so stinking deep and we've had quite a few blowout wins and because of that, as a coach, it's hard to play your starters late.

'Abby probably gets the brunt of it,' he says. 'She's averaging maybe 20 minutes a night. In many of these games, I can't put her in for the amount of time that she probably deserves because of the score.'

Hardie's size combined with her pedigree as a guard has allowed Rizzo to keep her at the top of the Braves' zone defense. Hardie has created havoc for opposing teams, averaging 3.7 steals a game.

'She's just a wrecking ball on defense,' Rizzo says.

Hardie, a first team all-state volleyball player, has already accepted a scholarship to play volleyball at Linn-Benton Community College in Albany next year.

'I love basketball, but as I've gotten taller, I haven't been able to move as fast,' Hardie says. 'I have uphill potential in both sports. I feel like I can be myself more in volleyball sometimes.'

Still, she loves both sports so much that she'd consider playing basketball, too.

However, before she can become a two-sport athlete at Linn-Benton, Hardie has some goals for her final year of prep hoops.

'If we get past little flaws, we could be first in state,' Hardie says. 'It could be us this year on March 10 playing for the state championship.'

Regardless of how far they go, a big part of the Braves' success this year has been Hardie' ability to adapt.

'Abby is just an outstanding player,' Rizzo says. 'This year she has a chance to maybe be the player of the year in our league. She brings so much to our team on both sides of the ball.'

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