Her scoring was surprising, even to her.
Kiara Rawls said it was being a leader, as a sophomore, that was the challenge. It was a role that belonged to then-senior point guard Jasmine Dill. But an early-season knee injury defaulted the team's leadership role, as well as the point guard position, to Rawls.
"I had to learn a lot of things," Rawls said. "I had to be a leader to the team. It was like a challenge I never faced before. I had to pick myself up and learn from mistakes." A year later, Rawls just expects to be the Lady Grey Wolves' leader and believes the surprise this season will be the team, which include a number of sophomores who all received varsity playing time last year.
"We learned how to compete instead of just letting people beat us down," Rawls said. "We came together as a team and stopped arguing with each other. We stopped dwelling on the past and just kept playing the whole time."
About this year, she added, "most people seem very excited about it. It should be pretty fun."
The Lady Grey Wolves season began to unravel after Dill's injury shortly before the District 12-5A season.
Rawls emerged, averaging 14 points per game during the season and 16 in district. But her success didn't translate into victories for Shoemaker, which suffered a 7-23 season that included an 0-14 mark in 12-5A.
Rawls was the Lady Grey Wolves' only all-district first-team selection, but she was hardly the only one worth mentioning when talking about the Shoemaker girls basketball team.
Sophomores Cion Hicks, Terra Roberson and Hailee Showers were all honorable mentions as freshmen and the Lady Grey Wolves' youth is cause for optimism in the coming years.
It's also explanatory of the team's exuberance.
"I think they act the same (as last year)," Rawls said. "They act goofy. They like to play around a lot but when it's time to get on the court, they want to be serious and take everything to heart. But, outside of the (gym) doors, everybody's fun and normal."
The important thing, Rawls added, is that the team has chemistry and a "sister bond" because they're not just teammates, they're friends outside of the game. Friendships aside, Rawls said she's going to do what it takes on and off the court to compete. Because this year is different and she's not as young as she was last year.
"When it's time to play, I play," she said. "If we're in the locker room, then I start playing with them. But other than that, when it's game day, I take every thing seriously, to heart because I want to compete this year."