WAKE FOREST — Kaila Ealey stands above the 3-point line, hands on her knees as Broughton’s opponent shoots free throws. The Caps lead by a more than comfortable margin with the early-season nonconference game near its end.
Ealey hears her name from the bench. She looks over to see her sister and injured teammate, Nadine, motion to her, telling her to smile. Kaila Ealey turns back to the court, her expression unchanged.
“I’m really competitive, so I’m always into the game, but it’s not an attitude,” Ealey said “It’s just that I want the job done, but I’m never mad. I’ve been working on smiling more this season.”
Ealey’s intensity is omnipresent on the court. The junior guard is hard to miss, handling the ball on most every Caps possession. On average, she contributes a third of the team’s points. Her agile speed helps her dart into the passing lane and lead the the Caps fast break.
“It’s very difficult for other teams to pressure us,” Broughton coach Brad McCorkle said. “There’s really not a press that’s designed that’s going to stop Kaila very effectively. ... Everything we do is based upon the idea of getting the ball up the floor quickly, and there’s nobody that I’ve seen that gets the ball up the court any more quickly than Kaila does.”
Ealey’s performance has helped lead the Caps to a season worth smiling about through the first half of conference play. Broughton (14-2) is undefeated in the Cap Eight. Her 20.8 points per game ranks seventh among area girls basketball players.
She currently has offers from George Mason, East Carolina, Indiana State and UNC-Chartlotte.
“She’s always playing hard, always going fast and consistent,” McCorkle said. “She’s always there. She’s clearly our leader. ... When you watch Kaila, everyone sees the defense, the scoring and the speed, but the big thing is how she makes her teammates better.”
Ealey led the Caps in scoring with 12.4 points as a sophomore and 10.1 as a freshman, but this year, she is settling more into a leadership role.
“Last year I was too scared as an underclassmen to speak up even though I should have,” Ealey said. “I feel like this year, I can speak a little more.”