The girls have got game. The 2016-17 campaign was another thrilling one for the girls basketball programs of the county, and it is time to dole out some special recognition.
Top individual honors go to a newcomer to the area. Fending off a number of contenders for Player of the Year is ShanQuaylia Stanton of Sandy Creek. The senior point guard moved to Tyrone and helped transform the Patriots into a title contender with toughness on both ends of the court and a flair for making plays both for herself and teammates. Stanton filled up the stat sheet every night, averaging 15.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 4 steals a game as Sandy Creek reached the Final Four.
“I think she is one of the best point guards in the state,” said her coach, Janie Hodges. “She has great vision and understands the game and how to get her teammates involved.”
An imposing threat to opposing offenses, Jada Claude of Whitewater is Defensive Player of the Year. Only a sophomore, Claude has already established herself as one of the most fearsome forces in the state. She scores 11.7 points a game, but does her best work on the other end where she tallies 11.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a night.
Some years it is tough to fine one stellar first-year player. This year, the county was blessed with a pair. Alice Anne Hudson of Starr’s Mill and Daija Powell of Sandy Creek share Freshman of the Year honors. Hudson, a guard, paced the Panther attack with 15.6 points and 4 assists a game. Powell, a forward, dominated in the paint, posting 9.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks a game.
In a county filled with excellent coaches, one general stands above them all this year. Janie Hodges of Sandy Creek is Coach of the Year. In her first year at the helm of the Patriots, Hodges turned around a team from a 9-17 record to a 24-7 mark, a region championship, and a trip to the Final Four. After such an impressive debut, the only question now is what she has up her sleeve for an encore.
The All-County First Team is made up of Darryl Langford of Fayette County, DeLayne Rotolo of McIntosh, Kasey Toles of Sandy Creek, Janiya Jones of Whitewater, and Morgan Jones of Our Lady of Mercy. Langford, a senior who will play at the Naval Academy next year, led the Tigers in scoring en route to All-Region First Team honors. Rotolo, a senior headed to Georgia College, led the Chiefs with 15 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 3.3 assists a night. Toles, a senior Kent State signee, posted 11.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. Janiya Jones, a sophomore, notched 11.3 points and 5 rebounds. Morgan Jones, one of the highest-rated juniors in the country and the odds-on favorite for top county honors next season, averaged a ridiculous line of 29 points and 16 rebounds a night for the Bobcats en route to Class A Player of the Year honors from Sandy’s Spiel.
The All-County Second Team consists of Maegan Barkley of Fayette County, Morghan Currie of Sandy Creek, Kelly Kozusko of Starr’s Mill, and McIntosh’s Savannah Soles and Rylee Calhoun.
Barkley, a junior, was the floor leader for the Tigers, leading the team in assists. Currie, a senior, was a versatile force for the Patriots, posting 6.8 points and pulling down 7.1 rebounds. Kozusko, a senior, anchored the Panthers in the paint, tallying 8.2 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Soles, a senior, chipped in all over the court, notching 9.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists. Calhoun, a sophomore, put up 12.2 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.7 assists.
A number of talented player remain, earning Honorable Mention recognition. Fayette County’s honorees are Trinity Brown, Rikkelle Miller, and Naomi Franco. Sandy Creek’s honoree is Nina Lum. Whitewater’s honorees are Morgan Johnson and Courtney Smith.
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