Olathe East High School graduate Sanayika Shields did all she could to keep Drury’s postseason women’s basketball run alive.
She matched a career-high with 21 points, shot eight-for-10 from the field and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds in Drury’s recent NCAA Division II Elite Eight matchup with undefeated Bentley.
Ultimately however, Bentley won 74-66 and ended Drury’s season.
“We’re excited about how far we made it this year,” Shields said. “We definitely thought we could have made it further in the tournament, but overall, we are really happy with where we ended up.”
It was the third Elite Eight trip for the Panthers in the program’s 14-year history, and they finished the season with a 27-4 record. The other two Elite Eight trips were in 2004 and 2007.
“It was a blast,” Shields said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way with any other team.”
Shields, who is the daughter of former Chiefs offensive lineman Will Shields, played in all 31 games for Drury this season and averaged 10.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per outing.
“I think my strongest suit is defense, so defensively I was able to pick up the team and pick up all of our intensity and became more of a vocal leader this year,” Shields said.
Shields has slowly risen to become a statistical leader for the Panthers, as well. As a freshman, she played in 25 games, averaging 2.5 points and 1.4 rebounds. The next year, she tallied four starts in 27 appearances and improved both statistics to 3.7 points and three rebounds per game. As a junior this year, however, she started to hit her stride. She ranked fourth in scoring, second in blocks and steals, and first in rebounds per game. She also started all but one of Drury’s games.
“It’s had its ups and downs over the past couple years, but I’m happy with where we are,” Shields said.
As she’s moved through her college career, she’s still tried to keep in touch with her former teammates at Olathe East — even catching a game of theirs earlier this season at a Springfield (Mo.) area tournament.