By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
During a 2022-23 high school basketball season that featured a number of stellar performances, four local players put forth above-average efforts game in and game out.
Southside senior Madison Shaw, Glencoe senior Jaxon Sizemore, Etowah senior Josh Graham and Gaston sophomore Mica Merriman are the All-Messenger Basketball Team Co-Players of Year for the girls and boys, respectively.
As the Lady Panthers’ primary option on offense, Shaw averaged 12.6 points and shot 81 percent form the free throw line She came up with 70 steals as part of Southside’s intense pressure defense.
Sizemore functioned as the Lady Yellow Jackets’ go-to player in just about every situation, as she finished with an average of 17.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists while helping Glencoe go 19-11, finish as the county and area tournament runner-up and make it to the Northeast Regional Tournament for the first time in five years. She committed to play at Gadsden State in the fall.
Graham’s per-game average of 14.5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game helped the Blue Devils go 21-4, win the area tournament and qualify for the Elite Eight for the first time in three years. Graham was no slouch on defense, as he was tops on the team in both steals with 48 and pass deflections with 54.
Although just a 10th grader, Merriman (pictured above) led the Messenger’s coverage area in scoring with 22.5 points per game along with 6.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals. He finished with at least 30 points against Hokes Bluff (twice), Sand Rock, Jacksonville Christian and Collinsville.
Girls Coach of the Year honors went to Southside’s Justin Bowen, who in his first year guided a team that had won five games the year before to a 23-8 record, an area championship and the program’s first-ever Elite Eight appearance.
Selected as Boys Coach of the Year was Glencoe’s Ryan Chambless, who in his second year at the school steered the Yellow Jacket squad to their first county championship in six years, and area title and a berth in the Northeast Regional Tournament for the first time since 2017.
The All-Defensive Team Players of the Year were Southside junior Sarakate Yancey for the girls and Etowah senior Omareon Finch for the boys. Yancey finished the season with 101 steals, while Finch totaed 174 rebounds and 12 blocks.
Editor’s note: The All-Messenger basketball team was compiled from statistics received from local schools. Not all schools submitted season statistics.
2022-23 All-Messenger boys and girls basketball team
Girls Co-Players of the Year: Madison Shaw, Southside; Jaxon Sizemore, Glencoe
Boys Co-Players of the Year: Josh Graham, Etowah; Mica Merriman, Gaston
Girls Coach of the Year: Justin Bowen, Southside
Boys Coach of the Year: Ryan Chambless, Glencoe
Girls All-Defensive Team MVP: Sarakate Yancey, junior, Southside
Boys All-Defensive Team MVP: Omareon Finch, senior, Etowah
Girls first team
Madison Shaw, junior, Southside
Jaxson Sizemore, senior, Glencoe
Jayda Lacks, senior, Sardis
Jaleigh Devine, senior, Etowah
Ajainay Tinker, senior, Gadsden City
Boys first team
Josh Graham, senior, Etowah
Mica Merriman, sophomore, Gaston
Jordan Presley, senior, Hokes Bluff
Garrett Morgan, sophomore, Glencoe
Eli Morton, junior, Sardis
Girls second team
Graceanne Rose, junior, Southside
Kinslee Gray, senior, Glencoe
Caroline Johnson, senior, Sardis
McKayla Bean, senior, Westbrook
Kayla Traylor, senior, Hokes Bluff
Boys second team
Aiden Cornutt, junior, Glencoe
Jalien Walker, sophomore, Etowah
Eli Edge, junior, Westbrook
Colby Smith, senior, Hokes Bluff
Will Shirley, senior, Southside
Girls third team
Jaedyn Sharpe, junior, Gadsden City
Bella Millirons, senior, Westbrook
Laylah Davis, junior, Southside
Caitlin Cates, senior, Coosa Christian
Molly Northam, junior, Ashville
Boys third team
Andrew Greene, senior, Glencoe
Andrew Pierce, senior, Etowah
Luke Martin, Sardis
Thad Pearce, senior, West End
D.J. Mackey, Coosa Christian
J.B. Potter, Ashville
Girls All-Defensive Team
Sarakate Yancey, junior, Southside (MVP)
Madalyn Amberson, senior, Glencoe
Karleigh Sheffield, sophomore, Gadsden City
Kytha Edwards, senior, Sardis
Lydia Northam, freshman, Ashville
Cate O’Bryant, sophomore, Coosa Christian
Laura Wood, senior, Etowah
Hope Jenkins, junior, West End
Haley Kate Wellingham, senior, Hokes Bluff
Bella Holland, sopjhomore, Gaston
Boys All-Defensive Team
Omareon Finch, senior, Etowah (MVP)
Anderson Morgan, sophomore, Hokes Bluff
Scotty Motes, junior, Southside
Cooper Horton, sophomore, Glencoe
Kodie Bogle, sophomore, Gaston
Kason Moore, junior, Sardis
Drake Dupree, junior, Coosa Christian
Eli Golden, senior, West End
Nate Huckbay, freshman, Ashville