Playing varsity basketball as an eighth grader isn’t completely unheard of, especially at the Class B level.

But few have had the instant impact one guard has made this season at South Prairie-Max.

The adjustment to playing varsity basketball was a fairly seamless one for eighth grader Rylee Routledge after some opening game jitters.

“Well, for my first game, I was nervous, but after the tip-off, it was okay,” Routledge said.

The five foot five guard has shown-out in her first season of varsity hoops with the Royals, averaging just over 13 points per game through nine games this season, shooting 43 percent from three.

“I love having Rylee on the team. She’s so happy. She’s never being negative on any of the teammates, she’s always supporting and she’s just fun to have on the team, she’s very energetic,” Sophomore Guard Azjiah Trader said.

“Scoring, passing, her IQ, especially at a young age, I couldn’t even fathom that if I was an eighth grader doing all that so it’s been really good, she’s really given us a lift,” Interim South Prairie-Max Head Coach Tanner Mosser said.

Routledge has brought an impact on the defensive side of the floor with about two and half steals per game, but knowing when to reach is something she wants to improve at.

“I’m trying to get better at not reaching and not fouling all the time because that’s one of my problems, and just not think about when I miss a shot or if I don’t do well on something or if I turn the ball over, just forget about it,” Routledge said.

The best may be yet to come for the junior higher.

“The sky’s the limit, honestly like she’s an eighth grader, which means she has this year, and four more years to like seriously, the sky’s the limit,” Mosser said.

And there could also be plenty of wins ahead for South Prairie-Max, as team opened the season with a 9-2 record with only one upperclassman on the roster.

“I see a bright future for us because we are a young team, and most of the teams now that are good are all seniors and juniors and so when I’m a senior, we should be one of the best teams I believe,” Trader said.

“We have a relationship off the court so we’re not just coming to practice to practice and going to games just to play, but we play together and as friends,” Routledge said.