‘Red’ heating up in senior season
Nothing is given to you when you are the only girl raised with three brothers. This was particularly the case for Washington senior guard Grace Redlinger. Basketball is in Grace’s blood. Her Dad, Mark Redlinger, was a former hoops’ star at Washington.
Junior Gage Redlinger — her second cousin — was also there to push her in backyard battles. He is second on the boys’ team in points and steals with 8.8 points and nine steals. He leads the team with 53 percent shooting from the floor and 40 percent from 3-point range.
“It was usually me being the only girl and playing around with all the boys — it was rough,” Grace said. “We kind of messed around a lot. It benefited us in the future and was always fun.”
Grace’s family built up a toughness that isn’t easily replicated.
“I used to always play 21 with my youngest brother and one two years older than me, every day after school until it was dark,” Grace said.
The list of Redlinger athletes who have come through the Demon athletic program is lengthy.
“Since I have been in high school, I have had family leading something in varsity sports,” Grace said.
She didn’t just play basketball. There were games of flag or touch football, softball and baseball.
From kindergarten to sixth grade, Grace went to St. James. She started playing on a traveling team in fourth grade.
When she moved on to the at Washington Junior High School team, she started establishing camaraderie with teammates.
“Moving on to this team really helped me build a bond with these girls and helped me play with them,” Grace said.
Grace said she got a varsity jersey at the end of her freshman year, but really started getting minutes her sophomore year.
“It was really scary,” Grace said. “I was really nervous. It was a big step. My junior year and senior year, I got so much better.”
Now in her senior season she is enjoying her most productive campaign. After eight games she leads the team in scoring with 11.6 points, rebounding with 6.3 per game and steals with 3.2 a game.
“She is so aggressive defensively,” said head coach Phil Long. “Of all the kids I have ever coached, she has the fastest hands.”
She is No. 9 in Class 4A with 25 offensive rebounds in the state, one shy of fourth. Long said he wouldn’t even call it hand-eye coordination, but speed.
The chemistry the team has, has a lot to due with the team’s 6-2 record.
“I love our mentality to win and play as a team,” Grace said. “I love all the girls. We work together really well. We can read each other. It is actually easy playing with these girls.”
Her coach has even given her a nickname.
“Me and (Stephanie Fishback) get called “The Freak,” because we always touch passes (on defense); we are really fast and we always fast break,” Grace said.
Grace has reversed her role from spectator to contributor.
“Ever since I was younger we always looked up to the high school varsity girls,” Grace said. “Some of which were teammates’ sisters played on it. We looked up to them and wanted to play on it.”
She has already been a part of back-to-back Southeast league championships, with a chance to go 3-0 in her varsity years.
“Every year we lose seniors and people tell us that we are not going to be as good, but we always come out and surprise a lot of people,” Grace said. I’m really confident that we can win this conference.”
Hardware this year would mean more to Grace.
“Every year has been a great opportunity to be a part of winning those,” Grace said. “This year would mean a lot because we are the leaders and the seniors.”
When asked if there was a team or player she idolizes, her No. 1 pick was simple — the Washington boys’ squad.
“I love watching our boys’ varsity the most,” Grace said. “They are good. Some of them you can see are street players. They have played outside.”
Long said that she has a lot of fun off the court.
“(She has a smile) 99 percent of the time on her face,” Long said. “That is the nature of her family; they are fun-loving people.”