Five high school girls basketball squads in Talladega County were well-represented on the Class 1A-3A All-County Team.
Talladega County Central led the way with five players chosen to the squad and a sweep of the top honors.
Freshman point guard Faith Johnson, who earned first-team honors, took home Player of the Year, while junior guard Ja’Miya Whitson, a second-team honoree, captured the Sixth Man of the Year.
“I think Faith has kind of cemented her high school legacy somewhat by being back-to-back Talladega County Player of the Year for the small schools,” TC Central head coach Robert Duncan. “I think it’s just another feather in her hat. She constantly works hard, never takes a play off, plays with energy and a positive attitude at all times.
“There’s very few times you have a player like that come around. It makes it so much easier as a coach, but we’re grateful for her and all she brings to our program.”
Duncan said Whitson’s selection for the inaugural Sixth Man of the Year honor was driven by an emphasis from Winterboro head coach Sheroderick Smith to spotlight unheralded contributors.
“It was a great addition to our awards throughout the county because sometimes, in our small high school minds, we feel like, ‘If I don’t start, I can’t contribute,’” Duncan said. “Ja’Miya, she could start on my team or any other team in the county, but she accepts her role as coming off the bench.
“She brings so much energy and so much defensive intensity to where it just changes the pace of the game immediately. She has an immediate impact on the game whenever she’s brought in, and we’re just grateful to have somebody with such a positive attitude that’s coming off the bench who realizes you don’t have to be a starter to be great.”
Junior forward Devona Gover (first team), freshman center Amiya Sillmon (second team) and sophomore guard Anysiah Taylor (honorable mention) rounded out the Lady Fighting Tigers’ selections to the squad.
“(Devona’s) the girl we like to have on the floor in crucial situations,” Duncan said. “It’s not all about the points she scores. She’s our floor general. She can play all five positions, and we never lose anything with her on the floor regardless of what position she (plays).
“Amiya’s definitely becoming a potent player down in the post (who) has improved a lot with her footwork. She’s always had a soft touch around the basket, but she can pull out to the mid-range and hit a jumper with that soft touch … She led our team in blocked shots and is a great rim protector.
“We’ve started to be able to generate our offense through her a little bit more -- be able to feed the post and work inside out. The sky’s the limit for her.
“(Anysiah) is another one of those players who comes off the bench, could’ve easily been a starter and could’ve easily been Sixth Man of the Year. She’s a versatile 2/3 guard that we use at the 1 as well.
“She shoots the ball really well, has good handling and she’s a sharpshooter. We’re working on her slashing a little bit more to the basket. We can do so much on the floor with her and her handling.”
Duncan was named Coach of the Year for the small schools for the third consecutive year. The Lady Fighting Tigers (25-9) won the 1A, Area 9 title and advanced to the Sweet 16, where they fell to Skyline 59-47.
“It’s a great honor to even be considered for Coach of the Year,” he said. “It’s great to be recognized by your peers and it’s a testament to the girls and the program. The coach is only as good as the players he has.
“I’m also blessed with great assistant coaches who did a great job.”
Four players from Winterboro (17-10) -- Kylia Stamps (first team), Taniya Garrett (second team), Kya Brown (honorable mention) and Amiya Garrett (honorable mention) -- represented the Lady Bulldogs on the team.
Fayetteville (6-16) garnered a trio of selections for its most senior team members: Emma Ray (first team), Natalie Ritchey (second team) and Charity Childs (honorable mention).
Alabama School for the Deaf’s Destiny Larry made second team, while Alesia Jaramillo and Santasia Crittendon were honorable mentions.
B.B. Comer’s Raven McCain and Mellexia Harvey each earned spots on the squad as first- and second-teamers, respectively.
The all-county team was selected by county coaches.