So when Kory Norcross heard suggestions from her grandfather, John Huard, she took his words to heart. Huard was a former NFL linebacker and coach in the Canadian Football League.

“He’s always picked on me and told me that I needed to get in shape and start jumping rope,”  the Edward Little senior guard said. “This year, I’ve been going to the gym every single day, and I’ve seen a huge difference. Working out and getting in shape has really helped.”

Norcross has spent much of her EL basketball career learning from others. She’s adhered to advice from others and made the most of them. Now she’s the lone senior on a Red Eddies squad that hasn’t missed a beat this season.

“Last year at the banquet, I told Kory that now this is her team,” EL coach Craig Jipson said. “I told her to go out and take over. She’s responded very well to that. She took it right from there. This summer she was a great leader, and she’s been unbelievable this season.”

The Red Eddies lost a wealth of talent and experience from a team that earned the top seed in Eastern A last winter but bowed out in the first round of the tournament.

Being the only senior back on a team filled with players stepping into larger roles, Norcross has evolved nicely into her challenge as the lone senior.

“I feel no different as a senior than if I were in the junior class,” said Norcross, who is also a standout soccer and softball player at EL. “We have such a huge junior class. We have a lot of upperclassmen. They’re experienced. Most of us have been playing together since third or fourth grade. We know each other well and what we’re going to do.”

Norcross feels comfortable with this group and it shows. She has great  rapport with the team and has their respect. That goes a long ways in her role as one of the team’s veterans.

“I feel more confident this year,” said Norcross. “I feel calm. Like the other night (against Brunswick), I had an off game. I had to stay calm and handed it off to others because I know they could do it just as well.”

Though it was an off-shooting night against the Dragons on Wednesday, Norcross was composed and poised down the stretch. She made some key passes, ran the offense and even hit a clutch basket to start the fourth and the crucial free throws at the end to seal it.

“I’ve learned about the maturity level and how it works on the court,” Norcross said. “You have to keep your composure. You don’t want to lose composure because then you’re completely off your game.”

Norcross stepped into the EL program as a highly-touted freshman. She saw starting time from the beginning and handled play at the varsity level well, even on formidable Red Eddies teams that were vying for tournament glory. That set the bar high for her and her future seasons.

“I did so well my freshman year that I felt like I had to keep up with that,” Norcross said. “I knew as long as I was helping my team in whatever way, then I was just doing my job.”

She did that and has grown into a larger role each year. Her game and her presence on the team has evolved steadily.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid grow up as much in four years as Kory,” Jipson said. “She’s come so far emotionally and leadership-wise. She’s learned from good and bad. She’s had good and bad leaders, and she’s learned what she thinks good leadership should be.”

The Red Eddies have struggled with maintaining their focus and poise in recent years. EL was completely overwhelmed in the stunning quarterfinal loss to Cony last year. EL has shown a steadier level of play this year, and Norcross has reflected that in her play and leadership as well.

Norcross says she’s got such a great group around her that she doesn’t feel like she has to lead them. Her strength in her role is in her play and passing along what she’s learned to the others. It is that overall strength of team that could be one of EL’s greatest assets this year.

“The girls in the past have showed me and guided me as to what I should do to be a good leader,” she said. “I have a great team behind me that knows exactly what they should be doing anyway. I feel like I’m not just that one leader. We can all work together.”

That shows in the chemistry that EL seems to have this year. They play well as a group  and work effectively together. A plus for this group is that they’ve won a number of games in the final quarter, executing effectively in the clutch with the game on the line.

Norcross has been behind much of that. She’s fifth in the KVAC in scoring with 14.7 points per game. She’s sixth in assists (4.1), seventh in free throw percentage (77 percent) and is among the leaders in 3’s with 28.

“She’s been a starter since she was a freshman,” Jipson said. “The program has improved each of her years, and she’s seen the program evolve. She’s been a phenomenal leader this year. She’s been so great t the younger kids. She’s done an excellent job in every way.”

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