'Inspires me everyday': Why this senior tandem stayed together at Springfield High
Virtuous Komolafe implored Chloe Byrd to come back one last season.
Both senior forwards, the Springfield High tandem had played together on the hardwood since seventh grade at Springfield Christian School.
“She kind of begged and then guilt-tripped me a lot,” Byrd recalled. “She just kept telling me, 'No, Chloe, you want to play.' She was kind of hypnotizing me. She was like, 'You want to play, you want to play.'
“So, I guess I wanted to play.”
Komolafe and Byrd have thus remained a formidable presence in the frontcourt at 5-foot-9 and 6-1, respectively. They combined for 29 points and 23 rebounds in a 65-52 Central State Eight Conference victory over Southeast in the City girls basketball opener at the Bank of Springfield Center on Thursday.
Byrd then nearly carried the Senators (17-7, 11-1 CS8) to a win against Sacred Heart-Griffin on Saturday. She tallied 12 of her 16 points in the second half to help SHS rally from an 11-point deficit and scored the go-ahead layup down the base line with 25 seconds left.
Cheresse Mitchell, however, responded with a game-winning 3-pointer in SHG's 47-46 roller coaster win.
“We really get stuff done,” Komolafe said.
Posting them up
They most certainly do on opposite sides of the block and complement each other in games and practices.
“We practice with our JV and most teams don't,” Byrd said. “It’s hard to make them push us especially because we're bigger and we have a lot more experience. So when we're on opposite teams and everything, it really helps me and motivates me to work on the moves and get better.”
They instantly meshed in junior high.
“People have always talked about how she's been bigger in size,” Byrd said of Komolafe. “Apparently in fifth grade, she was like two heads over everybody. So when I came in (seventh grade) I was taller than her. It kind of made me feel good. It was just like having a friend. It normalized everything, it normalized being tall.”
'She's everywhere':This senior does it all for Springfield High girls basketball
They also wield extensive varsity experience and have been starters at SHS since sophomore year.
“Sophomore year, we were still young so it was really overwhelming,” Komolafe said. “We only had one senior at the time.”
Byrd added it seemed like they were most underaged team that season.
Not so much anymore. The Senators boast seven seniors on the roster.
“I was just waiting to get to the point where we're the bigger team, we're more experienced and just having our senior year with all seven seniors is just really important to us,” Byrd said.
On the fence
Byrd, a prolific all-CS8 outside hitter in volleyball, weighed giving up basketball during her junior year. But her older sister, Sarah, affected that decision by leaving the program herself to focus on track and field and graduated as a state medalist in the throwing events: shot put and discus.
“I almost didn't play but then my sister quit and I was like, 'We both can't quit, that's kind of bogus,'” Byrd said. “And then I couldn't leave 'V' my senior year. She made me come back.”
Byrd will play volleyball at Parkland College after registering 214 kills, 81 digs, 38 aces and 28 blocks over the fall season. The Cobras recently captured the NJCAA Division II title in November.
That athleticism showed on Saturday with her ability to attack the rim from the perimeter. It nearly preserved the Senators’ unblemished conference record.
“She can really take it to the basket and finish,” Komolafe said. “She's like a big power on the inside.”
Komolafe intends to play basketball collegiately after bouncing back from an ACL injury freshman year.
“She always has a lot of energy, especially when she tore her ACL,” Byrd said. “That's like one of my biggest fears. I don't think I'd ever come back from that and she came back even better and it surprised me. It inspires me every day.”
Contact Bill Welt: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter.com/BillWelt