By Vequan Clark, The Circuit.
Leading scorer, first team all-conference player, two-time All-American and a leader who helped birth a Fab Four appearance is what the Benedictine Lady Ravens basketball team lost when Chayla Rutledge graduated last spring. It was no question that the team would be in need for her production to be matched for the 2016-17 season.
Serena Parker, a 6’0” post from Shenandoah High School in Iowa, committed to play for the Lady Ravens in 2015. Based on Parker›s high school success, she looked like a likely candidate on paper.
“She was a great high school player,” said Chad Folsom, Benedictine Women’s head Basketball coach. “We knew we were getting a great player”
Parker was able to lead her high school team to a 20-5 record the past season while averaging 17 points, 12 rebounds and over three blocks per game. She earned First-Team all-conference, First-Team All-Region, First-Team All-Western Iowa and First-Team All-State. For her career, Serena scored over 1,500 points and grabbed over 1,000 rebounds and was named her team’s MVP all four years.
High school success does not guarantee collegiate success, but as for Parker, she has not missed a beat.
As a freshman, while playing behind Rutledge, she was a strong presence coming off of the bench playing in all 36 games, averaging 4.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds and leading the team with 35 blocks. Her contributions also helped the Lady Ravens make their first Fab Four appearance in school history.
“Serena was a huge spark off of the bench and always made her presence known on the court.” said Lexie Villegas, Junior forward.
With Rutledge graduating, Parker knew it was time to step it up her sophomore season.
“I was nervous at the beginning when it came to filling her role,” Parker said. “I was pretty excited and with everyone’s support I was finally able to overcome those nerves.”
This season Parker is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds a game, which is more points and rebounds than Rutledge averaged last
Parker is no longer playing in anyone›s shadow.
“I think she is developing into one of the top post players if not the top in our league,” Folsom said.
Parker posted her season and career high of 35 points on January 25 against Central Methodist in a double overtime win.
As Parker is only a sophomore, the Lady Ravens have the luxury of having her for two more seasons.
With one regular season game remaining, Parker and the Lady Ravens are sitting in second place one game behind Baker University and ranked 11 in the nation vying for a spot in the national tournament for the third straight season.
Parker and the Lady Ravens travel to Canton, Mo. to finish the season with Culver Stockton University on Saturday, 2 p.m. Feb. 25.