After a sad final game, it's time to wrap up girls basketball season on a happy note. It's time to hand out All-County honors.
Each year it seems we talk about how the girls hoops in the area keeps getting better and better — and this year was no exception. We had an amazing collection of five teams (Sandy Creek, McIntosh, Fayette County, Starr's Mill and Whitewater) from the country reach the playoffs this year. It’s truly special to have all of our public schools stretch into the postseason.
Sandy Creek carried the banner for the county, making it to the state championship before losing a one point heartbreaker. McIntosh and Fayette County both advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. Starr's Mill and Whitewater suffered close losses in the opening round.
While the teams were incredible, there are top individual honors to hand out.
There was just one name that took top honors. Gabby Seiler of McIntosh is the Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Seiler was tremendous this season in spearheading the Chief attack en route to a 25-4 record. She averaged 21.4 points, 5.6 assists, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 steals per game. It wasn't just this season where we saw Seiler shine though.
She will go down in history as one of the finest hoops players we've ever seen. This season, Seiler passed Jeff Sheppard, a former Georgia Mr. Basketball and the 1998 NCAA tournament MVP at the University of Kentucky, as McIntosh's all-time leading scorer. Seiler finished her hoops career with 2,003 points, 539 assists, 376 steals, 365 rebounds, and 285 three- pointers. What a run it was.
"Gabby's performance on the basketball court over the course of her career speaks for itself. She now holds individual records which may last for quite some time," said her coach David Dowse. "What is most impressive to me, however, is her ability to make her teammates better. Gabby's unselfish play is a huge reason that our senior class was able to win 90 games over four seasons."
While Seiler was putting the finishing touches on her high school basketball career, we saw the early stages of many promising new ones. One of the finest, Morgan Towells of Our Lady of Mercy, is the Freshman of the Year. Towells led the Bobcats across the board with 12.3 points per game while tallying 122 steals and 53 assists on the season.
Virtually every head man in the area could have taken home top coaching honors. Fayette's John Strickland took a team with two key seniors and a lot of youngsters to the second round of state. McIntosh's David Dowse led the Lady Chiefs to an awesome 25 win season and a second round berth. Shane Ratliff and Starr's Mill continued their ascension with another state playoff berth. In most years, the honor would go to Rashad Muhyee who took over a Whitewater squad and led them to the playoffs in his first year.
However, Coach of the Year goes to Sandy Creek's Cedric King. In his second season at the helm of the Lady Patriots, King led the team to the state championship game and within one point of a title. King molded a true team with eight or nine players ready to contribute on any given night. No matter the opposition, the Patriots believed in themselves and believed they would win and they almost always did. Though King will lose some key talent to graduation, you can bet he will have the next group of Lady Patriots ready to bring a championship to Tyrone.
The All-County first team is made up of Gabby Seiler, LaRice Walker, Safiya Martin, Aneesa Watson, and Keyondra Jenkins.
Walker, a senior at Sandy Creek, averaged 12.6 points, 3.2 assists, 4.4 steals, and four rebounds a game. Walker's ability to get to the hoop created instant offense all season for the Patriots.
Martin, a senior at Sandy Creek, was the area's most dominant post presence, averaging 7.7 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks a night. Martin, a 6'4" Temple University signee, was an immovable object, swatting away countless scoring opportunities.
Aneesa Watson, a senior at Fayette County, scored 20 points a night as the Tigers' sharpshooter. Watson will play next season for the University of Central Florida.
Keyondra Jenkins, a senior at Fayette County, led the Tigers' attack from the point, routinely making opponents look silly with her tremendous ball handling.
The All-County second team is made up of Katie Wilson, Danielle Garcia, Amanda Lindsey, Cassidy Williams, and Kaelyn Dugger.
Katie Wilson, a Starr's Mill junior, averaged 15 points and five assists a game.
Danielle Garcia, a Starr's Mill junior, averaged 10 points and five rebounds a game.
Amanda Lindsey, a McIntosh senior, averaged 9.1 points a game.
Cassidy Williams, a McIntosh junior, averaged 10.6 points a game.
There is still plenty of talent left deserving recognition. The Honorable Mentions are an impressive bunch in their own right.
Fayette County honors Ciaira Hughes, Aaliyah Davis, and Asia Harper.
McIntosh honors Abby Birrell and Kristin Campbell.
Sandy Creek honors Courtney Street, Chloe Branch, Jasmine Jones, and Sydney Jarmon.
Starr's Mill honors Alex Pitts and Madison Highland.
Whitewater honors Danielle Ross, Rena Jenkins, Jada Coggins, and Jordan Barnett.
Our Lady of Mercy honors Deja Barthell.