Aliyah Mazyck has always been happiest on the basketball court.She started playing the game when she was 8 years old, when her father, Yandrick, and five uncles taught her the game.Now she is an all-state junior point guard for a Myers Park team that is No. 2 in the state and No. 12 in the country (according to Maxpreps.com).“Basketball has always been my reliever in everything in life, whether it’s stress, pain, or anything I am worried about,” said Mazyck, who learned the game playing against boys in pickup games. “I can go out there on the court and my mind is empty. It’s just me and the basketball.”Mazyck’s passion for the game has helped her mature from a talented but inconsistent freshman to a complete player ranked in the top 100 in her class by several basketball publications.The Mustangs point guard, who is being recruited by nearly every major conference, is having her best year to date, averaging 17.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.7 steals per game for a Myers Park team that is 23-1 going into the playoffs.“I’ve made a total transformation as a player since I got to Myers Park,” Mazyck said. “I am a totally different player, both mentally and physically. I’ve grown up and matured a lot. In a lot of ways, I feel like a different person.”Head coach Barbara Nelson said Mazyck’s love for the game has been the secret to her success.“In 28 years of coaching basketball, I’ve only had a handful of kids with the same passion for the game as Aliyah,” said Nelson, who won seven state titles in 21 years at Providence Day and was also the head coach for the Wingate University women’s basketball team for five years. “If there’s a basketball, she is picking it up. If her friends want to go to the movies on a Friday night, she’d rather be shooting at the gym.“She wants to be a great player and has learned what it takes to get there.”Mazyck, 17, and her Myers Park teammates are 83-3 in the past three seasons. This year, she has teamed up with players including senior Davidson committment Saadia Timpton (11 ppg) and junior forward Rydeiah Rogers (15 ppg, 12 rpg), who is also one of the top players in the country at her position, according to ESPN and other publications. “I love playing for this team and with all of my teammates at Myers Park,” said Mazyck, who scored her 1,000th career point against Porter Ridge on Feb. 4. Rogers did the same the next game, against Independence on Feb. 7. “I’ve really enjoyed seeing the progress we have all made an individuals and as a team. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got some things we want to accomplish.”At the top of that list is a state championship, to which Mazyck came painfully close in her first two seasons as a Mustang.In her freshman year, Myers Park was 31-0 before losing 43-40 to West Forsyth in the 4A state semifinals at the Greensboro Coliseum.Last season, the Mustangs were a perfect 29-0 before being upset at home, 48-45, by Southwest Guilford in third round of the playoffs.“Words can’t explain how bad we want to win a state championship,” Mazyck said. “We’ve been through a lot, but we’ve still got a chip on our shoulder. I could go on for days about how much we want to win it all.”Nelson said she can tell how much Mazyck wants to win by the way she has played this season on both ends of the floor.Mazyck has worked tirelessly on her ball-handling, shooting and ability to finish, as well as her defensive intensity and mental toughness.Myers Park has cruised through most of the season, beating opponents by an average of 30 points and going 12-0 in Southwestern 4A conference play. Mazyck averaged 19 points, four rebounds and four assists in three games in the Naples (Fla.) Holiday Classic, where the Mustangs met some of the country’s best team, including No. 1 Blackman High (Tenn.), their only loss of the season (70-58). Mazyck also scored 21 points in wins against Ardrey Kell and Rocky River.Mazyck has shown her toughness, dealing with a minor knee injury (missed one game), a concussion (missed one game) and a toe injury (didn’t miss a game) this season.After missing the first 20 minutes of a recent Saturday morning practice while getting treatment for her toe, Mazyck was so anxious to get back on the court that she threw on her shoe and ran back to practice, according to Nelson.“I love to be on the court playing basketball,” Mazyck said laughing. “I don’t like watching from the sidelines.”Nelson says her growth as a player and drive to get better make up a combination that gives her even greater potential.“What she has done is recognize the difference between a good player and a great player,” Nelson said. “There are not a lot of great players, but she has the skill level, basketball IQ and work ethic to become great. She wants to be great.”While Mazyck is focused on Myers Park’s pursuit of a state championship, she said she also often thinks about her future in the game.“I think about where I might play college basketball every day,” said Mazyck. “But I’m trying to take everything one step at a time. The college recruiting process can be stressful. But I’m trying to enjoy it and find the best place for me to get a great education and keep playing basketball.”
Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
Aliyah Mazyck looks to make her championship point for Myers Park
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Jay? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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