The best leaders are the ones who make everyone around them better while still retaining their own reachable individual ambitions.
That’s true in the real world and on the basketball court.
It’s not always an easy line to walk, but the great ones are not only able to find the sometimes delicate balance between team and personal success – we and me , if you will – they have the ability to make it look a lot less tough than it actually is.
There aren’t many examples of someone who plays a leadership role better than Lebanon High’s junior point guard Kailah Correa.
Since bursting onto the local hoops scene in 2021, Correa has led a somewhat startling Lebanon resurgence that is really only just getting started.
The Cedars’ transformation from struggling program to legitimate championship contender coincided with Correa’s arrival as a freshman phenom point guard who played with a skill, maturity, and flair that belied her tender years.
And, almost like a flash, Lebanon found a new identity, shedding the doormat status it had reluctantly acquired during nearly a decade of consistent losing.
“I don’t want to say it was a surprise or anything. I knew the potential we had,” Correa said Friday afternoon. “I’ve been playing with these girls since middle school, and I knew what we could do. It was our expectation.”
Some of that was due to Correa’s statistical contributions – she averaged 20.8 points a game in her debut campaign on the varsity level as Lebanon went 15-9 and captured the Lancaster-Lebanon Section 2 title. Then, last season, she deftly avoided the sophomore jinx by pumping in 18.4 points per contest while adding 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.5 steals per game. With Correa at the controls, Lebanon posted an undefeated regular season and went all the way to the L-L championship game, where it fell to Columbia. The Cedars also earned district and state playoff berths last season.
But the Cedars have elevated themselves because of Correa’s intangibles as much as her statistical production.
She is unselfish, happy to share the spotlight with talented teammates like junior center Liliana Harrison, senior forward Zariyah Whigham and sophomore Olive Brandt, who have thrived playing alongside Correa and used their skills to complement hers.
Together, they’ve not only made an impact on the basketball program, but also on the school and the community at large, capturing the imagination of their supporters like few Lebanon programs have in recent years.
“It’s a good feeling,” Correa said with a smile. “The community, the school, the spirit. Coming to school and seeing everyone showing support is a great feeling, obviously.”
“One of her greatest qualities is that she is even keeled,” said Lebanon coach Jaime Walborn said of her star point guard. “She’s still a hard worker in the gym, very humble, good teammate. She understands that she’s kinda the trendsetter of what practice is gonna be like. She’s willed her way to be the player she is, but she keeps that up. She doesn’t relax.”
Correa is also able to keep focused on the future while still.maintaining her concentration on the present.
She, of course, has goals that stretch beyond the gym at Lebanon High.
She has to date received six Division One college basketball scholarship offers – Illinois, Stony Brook, Monmouth, Delaware,Towson and LaSalle – and she will not have played the first game of her junior year until Monday night at Manheim Central.
In addition, Correa signed an NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deal with Lebanon business CJ’s Drip a few months back with the help of her parents Giovanni and Gina, and Chad Thierwechter and Charles Jackson.
And back in the summer, Correa wasn’t busy resting on her laurels, instead helping her Philly RISE AAU win a national title.
“It’s a dream come true, honestly,” Correa said of the college attention she’s receiving. “It’s what I always wanted, but when that first one came, I was like, ‘It’s not done here yet.'”
Indeed, Correa has some unfinished business to attend to, along with her teammates who would like to add some more shining moments to their already considerable legacy.
“I think that’s our main factor, our chemistry on and off the court,” she said. “These are my sisters, they’re my family. We really love each other and want to see each other win.”
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