Now, she’s the leader.
It was easier for her to slip under the radar last year when she didn’t play her best game because the Lady Hawks had at least three seniors — Maisie Steed, Meredith Heyer and Celina Rodrigo — capable of carrying the team.
Now the 6-foot-2 junior center is the center of attention. And she’s doing a pretty good job of it too.
Just a little more than a week ago when Hillgrove defeated Powder Springs rival McEachern 68-59 at home, Engram was recognized for already reaching her 1,000th career point. She was the third Hillgrove player to reach the 1,000-point plateau in the school’s seven-year history behind Rodrigo and Reka Hall.
And her 1,000th point came on the free throw line after making her first attempt.
“I knew it was coming and I asked coach (Susan Milam) about it a week before, but I honestly forgot that it was going to be this game,” Engram said. “I was on the free throw line waiting for the ref to give the ball back, and they announced it. I was super happy.”
There were questions regarding Hillgrove making another deep run this season with coach Sheryl Fowler retiring and the team graduating eight seniors. Engram helped answer those questions quickly with her play inside the paint.
Engram, who is averaging 18.9 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, got off to a quick start this season, and first year coach Susan Milam and the Lady Hawks declared her as their floor leader.
Thanks largely to Engram, Hillgrove (17-6, 11-3) is now second behind North Cobb in Region 4AAAAAA.
“It has its good days and bad days, I feel,” said Engram, who averages 18.9 points and 9.9 rebounds a game. “It’s not really that much different. I just have to remember that I am the leader and the team feeds off my energy and attitude. Last year, we fed off our seniors instead of this team feeding off of me.”
The bad days Engram was referring to was admitting to showing frustration when she is having a bad game and when she’s out of sync, so is the team. However, when she’s on her game, it’s a different story.
As a middle school cheerleader, Engram was on the sidelines supporting her teams. Now she has to remind herself she needs to do the same as a member of the team, even when her game is a little bit off.
“I just have to keep my attitude up and cheer them on rather than think about myself,” Engram said. “I just have to think about my team, encourage them and give them a chance to shine.”
Said Milam: “She still understands that she still needs to improve. She knows she’s not as good as she can be. She also understands that basketball is a team sport. She’s unselfish. She likes to see her teammates do well.”
Engram has been playing well as of late. She ended up with 20 points and 16 rebounds in Hillgrove’s latest win over McEachern. She came out the following day in a 66-61 non-region win over Alatoona and scored 19 points where she was also 10-for-10 on the free throw line.
She had 26 points in a 47-42 win over Harrison on Jan. 15, and 19 points and 16 rebounds in a 62-53 win over Campbell four days earlier.