Forward/guard will lead Robinson High’s move to 4A level
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Monday, Nov. 18, 2013

Forward/guard will lead Robinson High’s move to 4A level

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Bill Kiser - bkiser@charlotteobserver.com
Jay M. Robinson junior forward-guard Kelsi Mahoney is a two-time all-conference player and an honor-roll student who is being recruited to play basketball by several Ivy League schools.
  • Five to watch Taylor Sehm-Crowley Cox Mill Senior, Guard Entering her fourth year as a starter. The senior captain averaged 13 points and five assists per game last year. She is the girls’ basketball representative on the Cox Mill student-athlete advisory council. Kelsi Mahoney Jay M. Robinson Junior, Forward/Guard Two-time all-South Piedmont 3A player averaged 11.6 points and 10 rebounds a game last year. Can score around the basket and from the perimeter. Davidson, Richmond and Dayton are among the 12 scholarship offers she has received. Danica Ford Concord Junior, Guard Stepped up as an all-South Piedmont 3A selection last season as a sophomore. Can play point or shooting guard. Averaged 13 points, three assists and two steals per game. Made the all-tournament team at the CMC-NorthEast Medical Center Christmas tournament at Cox Mill last year. Aitana Grant A.L. Brown Junior, Guard A third-year varsity player, Grant excels at defense and running the fast break from the point guard position. She averaged 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists per game, and she was named all-South Piedmont 3A Conference. She scored in double figures five times last season. Shatiya Bost Northwest Cabarrus Senior, Guard, 5-6 The all-South Piedmont 3A point guard will lead an experienced Northwest Cabarrus team. She averaged 10 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.6 steals during a breakout year last year. Bost is a four-year varsity player.

Whether it’s on the basketball court or in AP English Language Composition, Jay M. Robinson girls’ basketball coach and English teacher Lin Smithson expects a lot out of Kelsi Mahoney.

The forward/guard is a two-time all-conference player and an honor-roll student who is being recruited to play basketball by several Ivy League schools.

She is also a member of a well-stocked junior class of players who will be expected to ease the Bulldogs’ transition from 3A to 4A this year.

Robinson won its last two league titles as a member of the South Piedmont 3A Conference. This year, it moves up to the MECKA 4A, a conference with heavy players in girls’ basketball.

Mahoney brought her 6-foot-1-inch basketball build to Robinson as a freshman three years ago. She already had a precious understanding of the skills and work ethic a successful basketball player needs to have.

Smithson remembers Mahoney attending offseason workouts at Robinson during the spring of her eighth-grade year.

“We were about to go into spring break,” Smithson said. “I said to her, ‘What do you want to work on?’ She said, ‘My footwork and agility.’

“How many eighth-graders say that? Most eighth-graders say ‘shooting.’”

As a freshman, Mahoney averaged about 10 points a game. Her tall frame lends itself to play around the basket, but her shooting and ball-handling skills allow her to be just as much of a threat on the perimeter.

Last season, Mahoney had an even greater impact by increasing her scoring average to 11.6 points per game and grabbing 10 rebounds per game. She made an impressive 49 percent of her field goal attempts, including 34 percent from 3-point range.

Mahoney scored a season-best 19 points in a game against Mount Pleasant. And she tallied 18 points in the Bulldogs’ second-round state playoff loss to Jesse Carson High in China Grove.

In Mahoney’s two seasons, the Bulldogs have compiled a 27-1 record in conference games and won back-to-back league championships in the regular season and the postseason tournament.

Robinson twice reached at least the second round of the state playoffs – including last year, when it finished 22-6 overall.

This season, Robinson enters the court after losing two starters to graduation; this year’s schedule may be a little more challenging, too. In the MECKA 4A, the Bulldogs will face defending champion North Mecklenburg, which advanced to the 4A regionals last year.

Smithson figures Hopewell, Hough and Mallard Creek high schools will be some of the conference’s tougher teams. The Bulldogs will also play Butler and Porter Ridge, another regional team, early in the season.

“There will definitely be tougher competition,” Mahoney said. “There will be good matchups with other teams, so I am excited about that.”

Carrying the torch is a junior class that will fill most of the starting lineup.

Smithson calls point guard Amaya Scott a “Mack truck” for the way she drives the lane. Sydni Bickford shares the backcourt with Scott and provides a long-range scoring threat.

At 6-foot-3-inches, Ashley Bearden is a strong presence inside. Brittany Vaughters is also sure to provide punch with her speed.

Smithson expects Mahoney to be an inside-outside threat. Mahoney has worked tirelessly with weight training in the offseason to improve her speed and agility, a couple of tangibles that have caught the eye of colleges such as Davidson, Dayton, Richmond and Princeton.

Smithson is not surprised Mahoney is getting attention from some of the top country’s top academic schools. She expects the best out of her in the classroom and on the court.

“I think of (Smithson) as more intimidating in the class than on the court,” said Mahoney. “She’s a great teacher. I already see my writing improving under her. I’m glad I took it (AP English Language Composition).

“I sit in the front seat in her class, so she’s always nagging me.”

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

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