Fairmont junior center Kayla Lardy is quite at home on the Cardinal Gym's hardwood court.
In her third year of varsity basketball, the 6-foot-1 Lardy is in the middle of her best season yet for the Cardinals.
"I've been playing varsity since I was a freshman and so I think it (the experience) helps slow the game down for me," Lardy said. "I was really scared at first before the games, but now I just get excited before the games."
LOOKING UPCOURT — Fairmont junior center Kayla Lardy (53) looks to fire an outlet pass upcourt as Jackson County Central’s Marita Rasche defends during nonconference basketball action on Monday night at Cardinal Gym in Fairmont. Lardy has produced seven double-double performances this season. Photo by Leanna Becker
As a freshman, Lardy earned all-South Central Conference honors. She's coming off a sophomore season where she averaged a second-best team clip of 8.3 points and team-leading 6.9 rebounds per game.
This season, Lardy has recorded a career-best seven double-double performances this season.
Lardy netted a career-high 25 points earlier this season and has consistently reached double digits on the boards this season. She is currently averaging 12.5 points along with 9.0 rebounds per game.
"This season I am really trying to get as many double-doubles as I can. Even though our record isn't that great, I hope that I can help play a part in us winning in the playoffs," said Lardy.
With all of her success, the junior has become a focus for opponent's defenses, fighting through double- and triple-teams to contribute offensively.
"I think this season I've noticed more teams double-teaming me on defense, sometimes even triple-teaming me. That gives me the opportunity to share the ball and get (power forward) Alex (Christianson) the ball," said Lardy. "I try to be unselfish, if someone is open then I get them the ball. I think it makes me a better player and our team better, too."
In all three of Fairmont's victories this season, Lardy has produced double-double performances. In a 58-42 conference victory over Waseca, Lardy tallied 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. In a 57-25 league victory over New Ulm, Lardy's 18 points and 11 rebounds were critical.
"This season, we are working on extending her a little more, having her bring the ball up and work in the middle of our press break to get passes down the floor," said Fairmont head coach Don Waletich.
Lardy posted another double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds in a 48-43 win over Jackson County Central on Monday night.
"She had four or five double-doubles last season and maybe a few her freshman year, but this season her rebounding and shot blocking has become much better," said Waletich.
As a varsity veteran, the junior realizes that the team looks to her for more than just scoring, and with just two seniors on the roster, Lardy has been a leader both on and off the court.
"I think more teams out there know about her and what she can do. The double-teaming and triple-teaming her makes it challenging, but teammates like Alex Christianson benefit from that," said Waletich. "She is at practice every day working hard and wanting to improve."
"I try to pay attention to where everyone is supposed to be and I'm kind of a floor general," said Lardy. "I try to help the younger girls and it's easy for me to look at the court and help people if they don't know where they need to be."
For the Cardinals, Lardy has found the right place to be, and her teammates will benefit with her continued success this season.