There are times Peyton Dungan offers her mother driving tips.
From the front seat of the school bus, she points out sights on the road as Beth Dungan ferries the Rainier High School girls basketball team to and from away games.
“She knows I’m always watching with her,” Peyton said.
Beth pilots the bus usually every week to watch her daughter, a 6-foot-4 senior, put up more numbers.
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“She doesn’t have to waste gas all the time. She doesn’t have to drive,” Peyton said. “It’s really cool, she’s always been my support. She’s my No. 1 fan, definitely.”
And a former basketball player, too.
“It’s something we’ve always had in common,” Beth said. “We shoot at home together. I’ve always been there for everything she’s done. I think that it helps that I know the game.”
But apart from light chit chat, Peyton said she doesn’t make a lot of commotion on the commute, instead opting to listen to music.
“She’s quiet on the bus, but not quiet overall,” teammate Kera Anderson said.
She’s certainly not quiet on the court.
Through 13 games, Peyton is averaging 15.2 points and 18.1 rebounds. She has recorded a double-double in nine games this season.
“My mentality has changed,” she said. “I know that if I want to go on in life and play college ball, if coaches are coming to watch, I need to be giving it 100 every time.”
The rebounds — her season-high is 23, which she has corralled in three separate games — come down and the points follow, but Peyton focuses on making plays where size isn’t a factor.
“There are times it’s not really a height thing,” she said. “If the ball is on the ground, I’m running for it, I’m diving. I don’t think (height) helps there, but I know a lot of times it does, and I use it to my advantage.”
Sometimes Peyton uses it to alert teammates of incoming screens or nab a pass that would otherwise sail out of bounds.
She wants to extend her presence beyond the key though. She often exchanges hovering underneath the hoop for looks at short jumpers.
“That has been a goal for me, because they do see me as a big threat underneath,” she said. “I want to be a threat from almost anywhere.”
“Except the three, obviously,” she joked. “I don’t shoot threes.”
Not that she couldn’t.
“She can hit them, but I’m like, ‘That’s not your job,’ ” Beth joked.
Beth admits her daughter’s range adds an extra level of depth to her playing.
“You don’t expect it,” she said. “When you see this giant girl, you’re thinking plug the middle.”
After observing from the bleachers, Beth doesn’t offer advice on the bus ride, but will pipe up when the two are in the car together.
“She knows her stuff, I know it,” Peyton said. “She doesn’t think I listen, but I do.”
On the court, it’s Peyton who drives. And if she’s quiet on the bus, she’s plenty vocal during a game.
“It’s an intense game, so we’re going to talk intensely,” said Anderson, who has played basketball with Peyton since seventh grade. “I think we do well communicating and not getting down on each other, so that’s why we work well together.”
For Peyton, basketball also drives the future.
“Basketball is my No. 1,” she said. “I know that if it’s going to be harder for (colleges) to see me at a small school, I need to work twice as hard.”
Peyton is also the reigning Class 2B girls shot put champion, but calls track and field, which she has received attention from colleges, the back-up plan.
“She’s just more passionate about (basketball), and she has to work much harder at this,” Anderson said. “I think basketball is something she’s improved on an enormous amount. Just the work she’s put in, she wants to put in more because she’s seen the outcome of it.”
At least this season, the outcome almost always involves double digits.