Three Lady Spartans earn first team honors
There were bumps along the way to another post-season appearance for Centennial’s girls basketball team.
The Lady Spartans were able to post an 11-3 record in District 9-5A play and an overall record of 22-11 despite playing eight games without junior guard/forward Kertisa Amos and junior guard Abbi Williams, who missed the last three games of the season.
“Overall, we were excited to make it back to the playoffs this season,” Centennial coach Valerie Wootan said. “I was proud of the girls for stepping up to give us an opportunity in the post-season. Of course, we had our sights set a bit higher than we achieved, but that is just part of it.”
Wootan said the Lady Spartans will use this year as a stepping stone for next year will all but senior guard Kayleigh Benson returning. She said they will learn and grow from the experience.
Centennial had three players make the first-team on the recently released District 9-5A girls basketball team. Making the first team were Benson, Amos, and junior guard/forward Ady Mize.
Benson, a four-year varsity player, was second on the team in scoring with 10.2 points per game. She also averaged 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists, was second on the team with 69 steals and shot a team-high 34 percent on three-pointers (56-of-165).
“Kayleigh had the best season she’s had in her four years here at Centennial,” Wootan said. “There is a lot of pressure in being the only senior and she handled that well. Making first-team all-district was a goal that Kayleigh set for herself, so it was great to see her achieve her goal. Kayleigh was another very consistent player for us this year. I was especially proud of how well she played and led the team after Kertisa (Amos) and Abbi (Williams) were out.”
Mize had another big season for the Lady Spartans, averaging seven points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. The junior also registered 50 steals.
“Ady was huge for us this year in district play,” Wootan said. “She stepped up early in the district and was a consistent scorer and rebounder for us.”
Amos, who missed eight games, still led the team in scoring with 13.9 points per game and was the squad’s top rebounder with 6.6 rebounds per game. The junior also led the team in steals with 72 and shot 46 percent from the field.
“Kertisa making the first team after missing half of district play says a lot about how much she impacted us while she was playing,” Wootan said. “She made her presence known through her rebounding, defense in the full court, and being a scorer offensively.”
The Lady Spartans had a pair of second-team performers in junior forward Zassmine Birdwell and freshman guard Trystan Clark.
Birdwell was a solid presence inside according to Wootan. The junior led the team in blocks with 31 and averaged 6.2 rebounds and seven points per game. She was the squad’s leading shooter at 49 percent.
“We relied on her heavily to defend strong post players and to rebound the basketball for us on both ends,” Wootan said.
Clark was a solid defensive player for the Lady Spartans. She had a team-high 81 deflections and finished the year with 55 steals. Clark averaged 4.5 points per game. When Abbi Wiliams went down with an injury, Clark took over at point guard.
“Trystan was great on defense for us,” Wootan said. “She was all over the place and brought us a lot of energy defensively. We relied on her to pressure guards on the outside and in our press.”
Lady Spartans had two honorable mention players in junior guard Abbi Williams and junior forward Ne’Khyria Rogers.