Another girls basketball season is in the books, and like football and boys basketball, the crop of young talent in the county was incredible. While the county did not have any teams make a deep playoff run this year, things could change over the next few seasons.
Augusta Christian posted 21 victories. Grovetown had a solid year at 17-10. The Evans girls enjoyed some resurgence on the hardwood this season.
Also, there were several individuals whose performance warranted special recognition. Here is the 2011-12 Girls All-County Team:
Malia Kency (Grovetown); 5-foot-5, sophomore guard
Kency backed up her stellar freshman campaign with a terrific sophomore season. She led the county in scoring at 15.3 points per game. She also was among area leaders in assists with 5.3 per contest. She was named First Team All-Region, and was Grovetown’s Team MVP. She has led Grovetown to a 42-13 record in her two seasons as starter.
Allysha McFarland (Evans); 5-foot-4, junior guard
McFarland was named First Team All-Region in 2-AAAA after leading the Lady Knights in scoring, assists and steals. She pumped in nearly 13 points per game as she helped Evans win 11 games. She came in second in voting for county player of the year.
Bria Baker (Lakeside); 5-foot-3, junior guard
Baker showed flashes last year of the type player she could be. This year, she turned her game up a notch. She averaged 10.6 points per game, but that only begins to tell the story of her importance to the team. She was Lakeside’s floor general this year and led the county with seven assists per game.
Amaura Brandt (Augusta Christian); 5-foot-8, senior guard
Easily the county’s top long-range shooter. Brandt shot 43 percent from three-point range and nailed nearly 80 three-pointers this year, more than double her closest competitor in the county. She averaged 13.2 points per game, but she did much more than score. She averaged 3.4 assists, 3.3 steals and 5.4 rebounds. The fact that her dad is a college coach was obvious when you watched her all-around floor game.
Morgan Taylor (Greenbrier); 5-foot-8, freshman forward
Taylor burst on the scene with an amazing freshman campaign. While Greenbrier struggled this year, Taylor was a bright spot. She led a very young team in scoring and rebounding. She poured in 14.3 points per game, but her work on the glass was even more impressive. She led the county and was among the best in the state with an average of 14.1 rebounds per game.
Rosalyn Talley (Lakeside): The junior averaged 12.3 points per game and more than eight rebounds per contest.
Alayah Canteen (Grovetown): The sophomore averaged nine points and eight rebounds per game for the Lady Warriors.
Anna Motes (Augusta Christian): The sophomore averaged 10.6 points per game and led the county with 3.9 steals per game. She shot 87 percent from the free-throw line.
Sha’Toria Dent (Augusta Christian): A senior, Dent had a solid season with 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.
Shelli Williams (Evans): The senior stands only 5-foot-3, but led Evans in rebounding. That should tell you about her tenacity. She was a catalyst for the Lady Knights’ defense. She was Honorable Mention in All-Region.
Jasmine Stone (Evans); sophomore
Taylor McChesney (Evans); junior
Amanda Murphy (Augusta Prep); junior
Katie Murphy (Augusta Prep); junior
Christina Rentas (Harlem); sophomore
Heavan Garey (Grovetown); sophomore
Tori Lewis (Augusta Christian); senior
Jennifer McMahon (Greenbrier); freshman
Kara Thompson (Greenbrier); sophomore
Of the 19 girls recognized, 15 are underclassmen, and eight are freshmen or sophomores. That is amazing to me. I played in the day where juniors and seniors played on the varsity, and everyone else played on the junior varsity. Not only are the youngsters playing on the varsity these days, they are playing at a high level.
Player of Year
Malia Kency (Grovetown)
This was a close race. Allysha McFarland had a great year for Evans and got better with every game. Amaura Brandt (ACS) and Bria Baker (Lakeside) were also terrific this year.
In the end, I had to go with Kency. The bottom line is that she is the best player in the county. She has a chance to put together a special four-year career, like Michelle Swiec at Greenbrier a few years back.
Kency has started since she stepped foot on campus at Grovetown. She can handle the ball, pass, shoot and gives 100 percent. As she matures and gets stronger, colleges will be lining up for her services.
Coach of Year
Ryan Morningstar (Evans)
This was a tough call, too. Grovetown’s Jamie Echols was 8-1 versus Columbia County teams and was 17-10 overall. Also, Augusta Christian’s 21 wins were hard to ignore.
However, Morningstar’s job this year was nothing short of amazing. Sure, Evans was only 11-15, but keep in mind, the Knights won just 11 games in the previous five years. Also, they went 6-4 versus the rest of the county. They were 5-34 versus other county teams since 2006-07. As a matter of fact, in the last five seasons, Evans has posted just two wins over teams other than Harlem and Aquinas. This year, they won seven games versus teams other than the Bulldogs and Irish, and they did it with very little size.