By Joshua Price
Etowah point guard Bri Aaron and head coach Ryan Fore top the Big 3 All-Messenger girls basketball team
The squad comprised of players from Etowah High School, Gadsden City High School and Southside High School. Aaron was named girls Big 3 Player of the Year and Fore was named girls Big 3 Coach of the Year.
Aaron and Fore led the Lady Blue Devils to a 19-12 overall record, including a Class 5A, Area 12 championship and a berth in the Northeast Regional Tournament at Jacksonville State University.
Fore humbly steered the credit toward the team and staff.
“I was fortunate to have a team with girls who were mature and had a vision to achieve things that had never been achieved before in the girls’ basketball program. Most of our team has been together since junior high, so one of the hardest things to develop with young athletes, team chemistry, was already there. It never would have been possible without my assistant coach, Jason Bush, and principal John Serafini, who provided valuable assistance from the bench throughout the season. I was also privileged to have the rest of our administration to have coaching experience and understand what all goes into having a successful program.”
Aaron led the Lady Blue Devils in almost every major statistical category. The senior point guard averaged 19 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 3.2 assists per game.
“Bri understood exactly what I wanted her to do and rarely ever made bad decisions,” Fore said. “She was surrounded with post players who knew their roles and took good, high quality shots and we had guards that knew when to attack the basket and when to take an outside shot. I can’t say enough about her.”
Fore said Etowah’s success this season featured many firsts.
“Winning the regular season area, hosting the area tournament, winning the area tournament, and winning a sub-regional game to reach the regionals were all firsts for our program and I am honored to be a part of it with such a wonderful group of girls.
First team honors include Gadsden City’s Portia Sims and Daija Williams, Southside’s Haley Troup and Blaise Brown, and Etowah’s Shuntara Howard.
Sims was Gadsden City’s team leader. The senior led the Lady Titans with 11 points per game, while grabbing eight rebounds per game to earn First Team honors.
Williams was arguably the most dominant post player in Etowah County. The 6’2 center averaged nine points and nine rebounds per game for the Lady Titans.
Brown was a solid player for Southside. The senior forward led the team in scoring with 9.8 points per game, while averaging 7.1 rebounds per game.
Troup debuted on the varsity courts for Southside. The seventh grade sensation was second in scoring for the Lady Panthers, averaging 8.5 points per game, while pulling 5.2 rebounds per match.
Howard was one of the smallest and scrappiest players in Etowah County. The 5’2 senior guard averaged 10.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.1 assists per game to earn First Team honors.
Second team honors included Etowah’s Mary Cate Hereford and Brooke Perry, Southside’s Savannah Thomas and Katie Mitchell, and Gadsden City’s Brooke Burns.
Hereford paced Etowah with 7.2 points per game. The senior guard played exceptional defense, averaging 2.1 steals per game.
Perry led the Lady Blue Devils in rebounds, pulling 7.2 per game. The forward scored many points from the post, an average of 6.8 per game.
Thomas played virtually every position for Southside. The versatile junior averaged 6.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Thomas tallied also a triple-double for the Lady Panthers against Weaver.
Mitchell led the Lady Panthers in rebounding and was second on the team in scoring. The forward averaged seven rebounds and 8.3 points per match.
Burns was a great surprise for Gadsden City head coach Jeremy Brooks. The seventh grader came off the bench early in the season and was a solid point guard for the Lady Titans. Burns controlled the pace of games like a seasoned veteran and led the team in scoring in multiple games. Much is expected from this player in the future.