‘Versatile’ Simmons drives Lady Panthers

by Levi Gilbert

A special subset of basketball players exists, and these players face an interesting challenge on the court. Greenbrier’s Breleigh Simmons is a member of this group — she’s a coach’s kid. 

“Being a coach’s kid, it’s good having someone who knows the game and can help me get better,” Simmons said of her father, Mike Simmons, who coaches the Greenbrier High School boys’ basketball team. “But it can be difficult because coaches expect more.”

While the expectations can be heavy, Breleigh is facing them head on in her senior campaign for the Lady Panthers. Her final year of Greenbrier basketball has brought a new challenge for the senior. 

“My whole life I’ve been a shooting guard,” Simmons said. “This year, I’ve taken on a new role as a point guard.”

Simmons was selected to this year’s 501 Basketball Team — 37 players representing the best the 501 has to offer both on and off the court.

The team is sponsored by Conway Ortho and Sports Medicine, Conway Regional Health System and First Security Bank. Simmons was nominated by her coach, Tobin McCammon.

“Breleigh is an excellent shooter and ball handler,” McCammon said. “She’s a good team leader and captain of our senior class. Breleigh’s a versatile player capable of scoring, but she is also a good passer.

“She was our leading scorer and main offensive threat last year. This year, we wanted to see her become even more assertive and consistent.”

Simmons answered the call. While it’s been a challenging year for the Greenbrier Lady Panthers (2-15, 0-5), Simmons has put up big numbers. At point guard, Simmons is averaging 14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals per game. 

Although 5A West play has been challenge for the Lady Panthers, with two months of basketball remaining, Simmons and Greenbrier still have a chance to turn things around. 

“I’m working to get better as a player and a leader,” Simmons said. “I want to help out the younger people on the team and help them learn and love the game. [Basketball is about] making new friends, getting better and getting more love for the game.”

Off the court, Simmons volunteers to work children’s basketball camps at Greenbrier and participates in reading to elementary students through the school district. Simmons plans to attend college this fall and pursue a degree in physical therapy. 

Simmons and the Lady Panthers travel to Searcy at 6 p.m. Friday.