Bailey Farley has toughness on the basketball court that was formed in a somewhat unusual place – at least for a female.
When the Canterbury junior forward was just getting interested in sports in elementary school, she spent a couple of years on the football field.
It was just flag football, but Farley still brings that physicality to the court in leading the Class A top-ranked Cavaliers in what looks to be another deep postseason run.
As a first-grader, Farley was the only girl on a YMCA flag football boys team, before joining a newly formed all-girl team that won some titles.
As a dad, the natural instinct is your sons are going to be your athletes, said Baileys father and AAU coach, Gil Farley. When Bailey was a toddler, she was aggressive and had athletic ability and enjoyed the competitiveness of sports.
Eventually any dreams of a football career faded as basketball became Farleys obsession.
It was fun, but I am a girl so of course, I never really played tackle because my parents wouldnt let me, Farley said of playing football. They were afraid I would get hurt. I loved football, but basketball was my thing.
I have always been a pretty physical player and pretty competitive. Definitely playing football with the boys, even in pickup games, really just gives you that extra edge that every player needs.
But (basketball) is always been something that I have loved. As soon as I started playing, it became so much more competitive to me, and I had such a passion for it.
The 5-foot-10 Bailey is averaging 18.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 3.1 steals for Canterbury (21-2), which plays West Central (18-5) on Saturday in the Caston Regional semifinals.
(Farley) has the best first step of any kid I have ever coached, Canterbury coach Scott Kreiger said.
When she uses that to attack the basket and not avoid contact and force people to stop her, she is at her best. When she goes looking for contact and the rim, she is awfully difficult to defend.
The Loyola of Chicago recruit got into varsity basketball early.
As a freshman, she was the first substitute on a team that won its third straight Class A state championship.
Last year, she was thrust into a starring role as the teams leading scorer, but the postseason run ended in the semistate.
Now her physical and emotional maturity has hit its zenith as Farley is the teams second-leading scorer behind sophomore Kindell Fincher (21 points per game) and has emerged as the Cavs leader.
Shes played a lot of basketball, with us and in AAU, that she has an innate sense of what needs to happen and when it needs to happen, Kreiger said. Its still a work in process for her, as leadership often is.
This year with the development of some of the players around her, she has been able to diversify her game. Second half of the season last year she was a marked kid. She put up with a lot of tough defenses, and this year its tough to focus on just her.
She has been able to play a little looser. She steps up when we need her to, and she can play a supporting role when we need her to.