She was named most valuable player of last season’s state tournament. She’s earned a full scholarship to a Division I college. Without question, Mallory Lawes has the credentials that would allow her to brag if she so wished.
However, “ego trip” is simply not in her vocabulary.
“I can’t stand that, to be honest,” she remarked.
Mallory is a standout basketball player for Elmira Notre Dame, the two-time defending state Class C girls’ high-school champion. Yet the 5-foot-7-inch guard emphasized that team cohesiveness, rather than her individual skills, has made the difference for the Crusaders.
“Chemistry is what makes you get that far. I’m really convinced of that. You know you’re going to be successful when you have the foundation. We’re not going to win if we don’t have chemistry,” she said.
Mallory also is a team player at St. Patrick Church in Elmira, where she’s a longtime altar server, and at her high school, where she serves as president of her student council. In honor of her accomplishments, Mallory is a recent recipient of a diocesan Hands of Christ Award, which annually recognizes high-school seniors for service in their church, school and community. The awards were given to more than 700 recipients across the diocese this past week.
Mallory remains true to her altar-serving commitment that extends all the way back to fourth grade, even though she’s played travel basketball since seventh grade as well.
“It kind of got hard to do both, but all through high school I’ve tried to altar serve on weekends when I don’t have other things going on,” said Mallory, who will turn 18 on Nov. 22.
She thrives in leadership roles: In addition to being student-council president, she serves as captain in both soccer and basketball.
“It’s nice when everyone respects you as a leader — they respect your opinions, and know you have their best interests with you,” she said.
Of all her activities, the basketball court is where the general public is most familiar with Mallory. Her Notre Dame team finished with a 25-1 record last season after going 24-2 the year before, for an amazing 49-3 mark over the past two seasons along with state and Section 4 trophies.
“That’s just so extraordinary. That doesn’t happen,” she remarked.
She said these feats were possible because her teammates share a love of the game, and of each other.
“That’s just the bond. From the minute we got on the bus (for the state tournament) to the minute we left for home, it was just fun the whole time. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s true,” she said.
The Crusaders may have fun, but they also know how to get down to serious business — Mallory in particular. She had a 17-point, eight-rebound effort in the state final this past March, keying a 50-35 win over Bloomfield as she netted tournament MVP honors. She also spurred on a hustling, stifling defense that forced numerous turnovers. Mallory was equally steady the previous year, scoring 11 points in a 44-37 title-game win over East Rockaway for the Crusaders’ first state title.
“I wanted to win so bad. The heart for the game comes out. That’s what I play for; that’s why I love it so much. You can change the face of the game within seconds, and I love that,” said Mallory, describing her clutch performances.
For the 2006-07 season Mallory was the Crusaders’ top scorer with 17.9 points per game, earning first team All-State recognition and several local awards. Just one day after Notre Dame won its second state title, the coaching staff from Loyola College in Maryland presented Mallory with a full scholarship offer.
“It was so cool. Everybody was asking me about the cloud nine I was on,” she recalled.
She made her verbal commitment to Loyola about a month later, and expects to sign her official letter-of-intent in mid-November. Being selected by the Baltimore-area school, which had been her first choice all along, marked one of the rare times that Mallory has enjoyed the spotlight being on her.
“It just shows that I really do work hard, and I like it that people can see that once in awhile,” she explained.
Mallory plans to pursue a career in business or higher education. She will join a Greyhounds team that finished 18-12 last season under Joe Logan, who as head coach was named Coach of the Year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Between her studies and basketball, Mallory anticipates not having the time for student government or other sports.
“You really have to commit, especially at the next level,” she said.
However, the commitment to her faith will remain strong. Loyola’s Jesuit setting will enable her to continue a lifelong string of Catholic-school affiliations that began with the Holy Family system in Elmira and extending to Notre Dame High.
“The church (at Loyola) is kind of small, really cool. It’s packed on Sundays,” she said. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t go to a college that wasn’t Catholic, but it was just awesome that it is that kind of college. That’s important to me because that’s how I was raised, and Loyola is also a close-knit community like I’ve had at Notre Dame.”
Mallory noted that her Notre Dame teams recite Hail Marys and other prayers before and after athletic contests — a tradition that dates right back to her Catholic Youth Organization days.
“It keeps you together as a team, that we all have our faith,” she said, adding that she prays individually the night before contests and “during games when I get nervous. I feel like it’s helping me.”