Alexis Fauvelle’s basketball roots run deep, all the way back to her “Little Tikes” playing days with her grandfather.
She was three or four years old. He had diabetes and was legally blind.
Shooting from his wheel chair, though, Donald Fauvelle Sr. couldn’t miss.
“I never knew how, but he would make every single one,” Alexis Fauvelle said. “He was just a natural. That stuck with me.
“When I was little, playing with him was always my favorite thing to do. That’s why I wear number 23. That was his number. He has always inspired me.”
She was four years old when her grandfather died in 1999. But for five varsity basketball seasons now, Alexis has played every game with him in mind. And he will be there again Thursday night, when the West Canada Valley senior from Newport gets another shot at scoring her 1,000th point.
With Fauvelle’s career point total at 989, the Indians — 8-5 overall and second in the Center State Conference Division II standings — will be hosting Mt. Markham.
“My grandfather means so much to me. … I know he will be there with me and I know that would make him proud,” Fauvelle said of a milestone reached by only six West Canada Valley girls, including all-time scoring leader Gretchen Lindenmayer (1,362 points) and most recently Sara Roseen (1,169 points), a 2006 graduate who now coaches the seventh- and eighth-grade girls’ teams.
“After my grandfather passed away, I always tried to do my best for him.”
Her best has been better than most, good enough to earn a starting role on the West Canada Valley varsity as an eighth-grader.
Even then, head coach Meg Cullinan said Fauvelle — schooled by her father and AAU coach Don Fauvelle Jr. — was teased for having such a high “basketball I.Q.” at such a young age.
“She’s been a gym rat since she was a very young girl; she probably has a basketball in her hands 365 days a year,” said Cullinan. “There was a lot she wanted to do as an eighth-grader and she just didn’t have the strength. But as she’s gotten older and stronger, that’s added a lot to her game.
“When she was young, she was tiny, but she knew the game. Now, she’s able to do all of the things she’s always wanted to do.”
Fauvelle still isn’t very big — she’s listed at 5 feet, 4 inches — but what West Canada Valley’s pesky point guard lacks in height she makes up for in heart.
“Because of Lex’s size, or lack thereof, she has to work much harder than everyone else,” said Cullinan. “Unlike a lot of scorers, she plays just as hard on the defensive end. … You will never see her stop hustling. She’s nonstop at both ends of the court.”
Page 2 of 2 - Playing that hard and that fast, all of the time, may not always be productive.
“But it’s all coming from the heart,” Cullinan said. “Her goal is to play hard and win, to set an example and to make everyone around her better. I think people respect her because of the hustle, because she never quits.”
Fauvelle’s older sisters, Amber and Desiree, also played for West Canada Valley. Desiree helped the Indians win a Section III title and later played two years at Mohawk Valley Community College and two more at SUNY-Brockport, where she was a two-year starter and a member of the SUNY Athletic Conference All-Academic Team last season.
“Alexis just knows the game, and she puts in the effort year round,” said Desiree Fauvelle. “It just comes natural to her.”
A year ago, Alexis led West Canada Valley to the Section III semifinals. This season, she is averaging 17.5 points per game, and with a grade-point average of 94.00, the two-sport star — she also was her soccer team’s leading scorer — hopes to play college basketball next year.
Some have called Fauvelle the “Energizer Bunny,” because of the way she plays the game.
“I’ve just always loved the game and I’ve always tried to do everything that I could to get better,” she said. “Even if I don’t make every shot, I want to make sure that when I leave the court, I know that I gave it all I had, that I played as hard as I could.”
What grandfather wouldn’t be proud of that?