BINGHAMTON (WBNG) - Section IV girl's basketball is loaded with talent. The Binghamton Patriots are one of those uber skilled teams and are off to a 5-0 start. 12 Sports' Athlete of the Week Lexi Gruss has been putting her name on the map for the Patriots, thanks to a lot of hard work that transformed her game.
"The biggest thing for her moving forward was being more aggressive offensively," said Binghamton head coach Willie Fann. "Over the summer, I said I want you to work on during the whole AAU season is shoot. Shoot often. Shoot crazy amounts."
So that's exactly what Lexi Gruss did.
"I woke up every morning and made 200 shots each day," said Binghamton guard Lexi Gruss. "So, that helped me a lot"
Her shooting was on display Tuesday night against Johnson City.
"If she gets going early, then it gets us all going," said Fann.
Two threes in the first minute and thirty seconds, en route to 24 points and Binghamton's fifth win of the season.
"I just caught the ball from my teammates and shot it with confidence," said Gruss. "It seemed to work with their great passes."
Gruss' development aided by the trust she has in her head coach Willie Fann.
"My thing about basketball is having a coach that cares about me and really brings up my confidence," said Gruss.
"As close to a father-daughter relationship as one can be, on and off the court," said Fann. "I like to think you get more from your girls when you build a personal connection. If it's just basketball you're teaching them, then to be quite honest, you're wasting your time."
Even with her newfound stroke, the point guard still likes to dish.
"I love passing," said Gruss. "That's my favorite thing and a lot of times I get yelled at for it, but it's my favorite to see my other teammates succeed too."
Her teammates love playing with her too.
"It's extremely fun," said Binghamton junior guard Kaziah Ross. "I know if I work hard, she'll be there with me. She pushes me to keep going, even when I'm down on myself from a bad play. She picks me back up."
If you watch Lexi on the hardwood, you'll often see her smiling, but don't mistake her jovial demeanor as a weakness.
"Even though she's smiling, she's still as intense as anyone else on the court," said Fann.
Binghamton's next game is December 27 in the Amsterdam High School Tournament.