Monday, May 23, 2022

Family comes first: Burch helps keep Timber Creek on track

Senior Charger is among highest-scoring girls in the state

MATTHEW SHINKLE/South Jersey Sports Weekly
Timber Creek’s Amaya Burch is one of the highest scoring basketball players in the state, averaging 24.4 points per game through the team’s first 10 games. Equally important has been her leadership.

The old adage in sports, especially in high school, is that the name across the front means more than the name across the back. 

For Timber Creek senior Amaya Burch, the sentiment that the saying expresses rings true, but ironically enough, what’s written on both the front and back of the team’s jerseys reinforce that ideology. While their home and away jerseys either say Chargers or Creek on the front, both say Family on the back, where a last name might typically go. 

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“We’re really a close team; we’re all about family,” Burch said. “It’s not just something on the back of our jerseys, it’s what we’re about … We’re always there to pick each other up, no matter how many of us may be down.

“We give it our all every time.”

When you’ve gone through what teams like the Timber Creek girls basketball squad have over the past 12 months, you have to hope the team feels like a family, otherwise it would be hard to believe they got through it at all. 

Following a 2020-’21 season in which the Chargers went 11-3 on their way to a Tri-County Conference Tournament Bracket A title  – in place of a state tournament –  the Timber Creek girls finished the season with more games played than in-person practices because of COVID, according to their coach.

During the winter before last season, the team practiced outdoors in groups to prepare for the preseason, only to have it delayed following positive tests and contact tracing.  The same happened again this year. 

But the Chargers have been able to overcome such challenges in recent weeks, thanks to their perseverance and drive to always get better. Much of that, second year head coach MollyAnne Light said, is due to the leadership of Burch, both on and off the court. 

“She has such an ability to be a leader; with everything that was happening last year,  despite it being so condensed or rushed, she was able to take control of our situations and look at the bright side of things and have that rub off on her teammates,” Light said. 

“She’s so well-rounded on the court and she relies heavily on her teammates … “ Light  added of Burch. “She makes everyone around her better, and she demands that they’re playing with the same intensity that she does.” 

Burch is currently one of the top scorers in the state, averaging 24.4 points per game through the team’s first ten games, with a record of 8-2 so far. Burch also leads the team in rebounds and steals. 

As a program that doesn’t cut players, Light said when she took over as head coach before last season, she wanted structure and commitment from the girls who came out for the team. Thanks to the leadership of a player like Burch, it’s been both a seamless and successful transition.

“I don’t know how it was before I got here, but I wanted to make a few changes and really preach discipline and commitment,” the coach said. “So it’s really important to have a person like her that really supports that vision and helps it spill over on her teammates as well.”

As it now stands, Burch is approximately 220 points away from reaching 1,000 for her career, something she said she wanted to achieve during her time at Timber Creek  before she had even played her first game as a Charger. 

It may be a close call at the end of the season as far as Burch’s chase; her average points per game in the last eight regular season matchups have her about 20 points short, leaving the postseason as the point where she will break the mark. 

That might be for the best, because after experiencing success in the Tri-County Conference Tournament last season, Burch and her teammates look forward to bigger and brighter goals this season.

“Having done what we did last year, carrying that over, everyone is looking forward to [playoffs] again, because we know how good that feels and we want to feel that feeling again,” Burch said.

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