It’s not often you give top honors to a player in Class-A, but it’s rare to see transcendent talent pass through the county. Morgan Jones of Our Lady of Mercy is the Player of the Year. Jones, one of the highest-rated players in the state and a Florida State signee, filled up the stat sheet nightly with 29.5 points, 15.3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4.4 blocks. She finishes as the Bobcats’ all-time leading scorer with well over 2,000 career points.
“For everyone that has had the opportunity to see Morgan Jones play basketball, there is no doubt she is one of the most talented young ladies in the nation,” said her coach Kevin Walker. “It has been such a pleasure to watch her grow and develop from a young age, but she is far more than a great basketball player. She works very hard on herself, on and off the court, and has a love for her friends and teammates that makes all of those around her better. Her basketball talent will take her far, but her personal character will take her even farther.”
Whitewater’s Jada Claude repeats as Defensive Player of the Year. Claude, a versatile junior, posted 15.6 points and 10.7 rebounds and earned Region Player of the Year and All-State honors for the Wildcats.
In a year with several exciting first-year players, Starr’s Mill’s Ali Rumpel is Freshman of the Year. Rumpel dominated in the post for the Panthers, averaging 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks.
You could make a case for any of the area’s coaches for top honors, but Sandy Creek’s Janie Hodges repeats as Coach of the Year. On paper, it should’ve been a rough campaign for the Patriots. They lost nearly all of their scoring from the previous season, returned no seniors, and only had eight players on the roster. With a rotation that was only six players deep most nights, Hodges rallied the troops for 19 wins, a region championship, and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.
The All-County First Team is composed of Maegan Barkley and Trinity Brown of Fayette County, Alice Anne Hudson of Starr’s Mill, Kennedi Miller of McIntosh, and Daija Powell of Sandy Creek.
Barkley, a senior point guard, racked up 14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals with 45 3-pointers. Brown, a senior guard, filled up the stat sheet with 13.5 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Hudson, a sophomore guard, tallied 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 3.3 steals. Miller, a junior point guard, notched 14 points, 4 rebounds, and 2.6 steals with 175 free throws. Powell, a sophomore center, posted 15 points and 7 rebounds.
The All-County Second Team is made up of Rylee Calhoun of McIntosh, Nina Lum of Sandy Creek, Rikkelle Miller of Fayette County, Courtney Smith of Whitewater, and Paris Thompson of Sandy Creek.
Calhoun, a junior guard, put up 13.5 points and 2 steals. Lum, a junior guard, notched 10 points and 2 assists. Miller, a senior 3-point specialist, averaged 13 points and 8 rebounds with 75 made 3-pointers. Smith, a junior point guard, posted 16 points and 3.5 assists. Thompson, a junior forward, tallied 11 points and 5 rebounds.
With talented players remaining, there are several earning Honorable Mention recognition. Leading the way are Fayette County’s Naomi Franco and Sidney Sims, McIntosh’s Kimmy Edgeworth, Sandy Creek’s Jania Hodges, Our Lady of Mercy, Eboni Winston, and Starr’s Mill’s Ashtyn Lally, Emily Nieuwstraten, and Alyssa Angelo.
To see more photos from basketball season, click here.