By Chris McCarthy/Editor
For the second straight year, Colin Edwards is tops among his peers in local high school basketball.
The Westbrook Christian junior forward is 2012-13 All-Messenger boys basketball team’s Player of the Year.
Edwards, who also earned the Messenger’s top honor last season, averaged 21.3 points. 9.3 rebounds and two blocks while leading the Warriors to a 25-5 record, the Class 2A, Area 11 title and a berth in the Northeast Regional Tournament.
The 6’4” Edwards also was selected to the Class 2A All-State first team.
In two seasons with Edwards at forward, Westbrook has won 45 games against only 17 losses.
Westbrook head coach Seth Ford noted that Edwards is the complete package in terms of athletic ability, court savvy, intelligence and leadership.
“I think the biggest thing about Colin is his versatility. There’s not a role we had this year that he didn’t do for us, from scoring to rebounding to playing point guard when we needed him to do that.
“Colin also was our biggest game-changer on defense with his shot blocking ability. We definitely were a different team out there without him on defense because he protected the rim so well. I’ve never coached a player that can do as many things for a team as Colin does for us.”
Ford pointed out that Edwards was one of those few players who possess the ability, both on and off the court, to make the players around him better.
“Colin’s one of those kids that has as good character as anyone you’ll find. He’s extremely unselfish kid who thinks of others first. He also takes care of his academics first. It wasn’t unusual for him to be doing his homework during the JV and the girls games. When you have your best player doing things like that and other players see him do that, you’re going to have a pretty good season.”
On the girl’s side, it was too close a call to pick a single most valuable player, so Gadsden City junior center Dajia Williams and Hokes Bluff junior guard Carlie Shields share Player of the Year honors.
A member of the Class 6A All-State honorable mention team, Williams was good for 11 points and 12 rebounds a game as the Lady Titans finished with a 22-9 record and area championship and made it to the Northeast Regional Tournament semifinals.
“Dajia really improved as an all-around player this year, not just in one particular area,” said GCHS girls basketball coach Jeremy Brooks. “She really stepped up her scoring in the playoffs, but she helped us in so many areas. There no telling how many double-doubles she had during the year, so she provided both the scoring and the rebounding we needed. She also was double-teamed a lot of times, and that opened up things for the guards on the perimeter. She didn’t block a whole lot of shots, but she did alter a lot of them, and by the end of the season, teams started to adjust their game plans for her. She’s a very level-headed and smart young lady who has always had the respect her teammates, but she really grew as a leader this season as her confidence grew.”
Named to the Class 4A All-State honorable mention team, Shields averaged 14 points, 4.2 assists and 2.9 rebounds for a Lady Eagle squad that posted an 18-13 record, won the Etowah County Schools Tournament and made it to the 4A subregional playoff round. Shields was named County Tournament MVP and was selected to the All-Area 11 Tournament team. A regular during her 8th grade year and a starter since her freshman season, Shields has accumulated 999 career points while helping Hokes Bluff win 80 games over that time span.
“The main things that Carlie brings to the program is a vision for the game, good floor knowledge and the ability to initiate leadership,” said Hokes Bluff girls basketball coach Jason Shields, who is Carlie’s father. “She sees things on the floor and then makes things happen. That’s what you’re looking for in a leader, someone who not only can tell a teammate what to do but get in a game and do it herself. She’s also balanced, in the way that she’ll take a shot if she feels she can make it bit she also will pass off if she sees that a teammate has a better shot.
“It’s one thing to have confidence in yourself, but it’s another thing to have confidence in your teammates, and that’s hard to develop as a basketball player. This season, her ability to penetrate the lane really helped open things up on the outside for Hannah [Evans] and Keisha [Chapman], who then did their jobs by making a ot of those shots. Carlie’s also a good person with good character, which for me is where leadership starts.”
Jason said that there is a specific point where he puts aside his role as Carlie’s coach and returns to being a dad.
“I’ve always believed that the coaching stops when the game is over. I’ve always tried not to give her too hard of a time on the way home from a game. I can sometimes get negative as coach, but as a parent I’ve always told to shake things off and let her know that I love her. But during a game, I try to set aside any kind of anxiety from being a parent and put her in situations that I put any other of my players in.”
Rounding out the All-Messenger boys first team is Gadsden City junior forward Rakim Lubin, who averaged a double-double of 19.6 points and 9.2 rebounds; Hokes Bluff junior center Isaac Hass, who averaged 18 points and 10.3 rebounds while helping the Eagles to a 20-10 record and the Area 11 Tournament title; Etowah senior forward Darius Bush, who averaged 17 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and three steals; and Glencoe senior guard Austin Hancock, who averaged 13.6 points and shot 83 percent from the free throw line for a Yellow Jacket team that went 19-11 and made it to the Class 3A subregionals.
Haas was named to the Class 4A All-State second team, while Lubin and Bush made the 6A and 5A All-State honorable mention teams, respectively.
Also on the girls first team was Southside 8th grader Haley Troup, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists for a Lady Panther team that went 18-7 and won the program’s first-ever area title; Glencoe senior guard Laura Poovey, who averaged 14.4 points 3.4 rebounds 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals for a Lady Yellow Jacket squad that went 19-12 and made it to the Class 3A subregionals; and West End junior forward Cleveland with an average of 15 points, 13.2 rebounds, 3.8 steals, 2.8 blocks and 1.4 assists.
Coaches of the Year are Westbrook’s Seth Ford for the boys and Gadsden City’s Jeremy Brooks for the girls.
The boys second team includes Westbrook senior guard Alex Perkins, Southside senior forward Chris Leonhardt, Hokes Bluff senior guard Brad Robertson and Coosa Christian senior forward Micah Mills.
The girls second team features Hokes Bluff sophomore guard Hannah Evans, Gadsden City 8th grade guard Brooke Burns, Southside senior guard Savannah Thomas, Westbrook freshman guard Abby Lockridge and Glencoe senior center Jordan Sims.
Honorable mention selections for the boys are Southside’s Drew Mullinax, Gadsden City’s Jeff Garrett, Sardis’ Will Scott, West End’s Caleb Mayo and Gaston’s Jackson Bogle.
Making honorable mention for the girls were Gadsden City’s Takara Blount, Southside’s Sydney D’Eath, Glencoe’s Hope Gaskin, West End’s Brittany Self and Gaston’s Felecia Porter.
Editor’s note: members of the 2012-13 All-Messenger boys and girls basketball teams were selected based on season statistics received from the players’ coaching staff.