Naja Lumsden has plenty of reasons to smile.
The Universal Audenried Charter High School junior basketball player is having a tremendous season on the court and she aspires to be an orthodontist someday after college, following a family tradition of dental care.
One way or another, the Rockets’ leading scorer is bracing for big things.
“My mom is a dentist and she’s been talking to me a lot about teeth,” Lumsden said. “I have braces now and I really like what they’ve been doing when I go there so I ask a lot of questions.”
Her thirst for knowledge is transparent on the basketball court, too. In a season when the Rockets faced several injuries and adversity, Lumsden has shouldered even more responsibility. On pace to hit 1,000 points most likely early next year, Lumsden has been a bright spot as the Rockets (5-14) head into a crucial point of their season. Lumsden is usually the leading scorer of her team, averaging about 23 points per game, but her ability to integrate her teammates into the offense has yielded solid results.
“With Naja, it’s all about trusting her teammates,” Audenried girls basketball coach Kevin Slaughter said. “She doesn’t have to always take over. The ball will come back to her. She sometimes likes to ‘James Harden it’ and take those far away 3’s but she’s learning to use her teammates more.”
She’s sharing the ball more, but Lumsden is still creeping up on a thousand points, having recently surpassed the 800 mark, and was at 375 for the season following a 61-45 setback to Pennsbury on Friday night. Lumsden would be just the second female from Audenried to achieve that big milestone.
“I’m determined to get there,” Lumsden said. “To only be the second girl at Audenried would be really special.”
The Rockets have been hit with injuries to key players and had another player transfer out, which has set them behind their season goals.
“It’s been hard,” Slaughter said. “Being without all these big players has been really tough. But we’re trying to finish strong heading into the playoffs.
Lumsden has seen positives from the team, which has the ability to go on big runs. They trailed highly-touted Pennsbury, 20-3, before closing the gap to a single basket. Lumsden scored 16 points that night, and the Rockets received double-figure contributions from Destiny Epps and Jenelle Ransom, who netted 10 apiece.
“It’s been a little tough but we’ve been fighting through it,” Lumsden said. “We just continue to grow as a team and get better and better every day.”
Lumsden has been involved with the school’s drama club and will have a small part in an upcoming show. She joins the club after basketball practice and still finds the time to work the treadmill at the gym. She shows that kind of determination each time the ball is in her hands.
“Her skill set might be her best attribute but she really has a nose for the basket,” Slaughter said. “She can stroke the ball and she’s a true competitor. We’re really lucky to have her because there are some games when she’s the only one scoring.”
Lumsden is hoping more help will be available next year as the Rockets continue to put in the work for a brighter future.
“It’s a building year,” she said. “We’re just trying to lay down some groundwork and be even better next year.”