Coming off of two consecutive South Piedmont 3A titles, Jay M. Robinson’s girls basketball team seemed a favorite to repeat as conference champs this season – until conference realignment got in the way.The Bulldogs were still the best team in Cabarrus County this season. They weren’t, however, the best team in their conference, MECKA 8 4A, which was dominated by Mecklenburg County teams.Robinson played six of the seven other public school teams in Cabarrus County and beat all of them. The Bulldogs finished 17-9 overall, but their record against the MECKA’s Mecklenburg teams was 7-8.Still, Robinson was competitive in its new conference, beating every team except Hopewell. The Bulldogs lost to the Titans four times, including in the conference tournament and state playoffs.Meanwhile, the Cabarrus teams in the Southern Piedmont Conference were adjusting to the addition of Rowan County teams. East Rowan won the regular season championship while South Rowan was runner-up.Hickory Ridge had the best SPC finish of any Cabarrus team, placing third with an 11-5 league mark. Central Cabarrus finished fourth at 10-6. Coach of the year: Tolonda Simmons, Hickory Ridge – No other Cabarrus team had a turnaround quite as compelling as Hickory Ridge. The Bulls finished with a 15-11 overall record, an 11-win improvement over last season’s 4-19 mark.Simmons, the Bulls’ second year coach, says her team was in transition last year after having graduated several key players from the previous season. This year’s group was committed to summer workouts and had improved by the time the season started.The Bulls equaled their win total from a year ago before winter break, and Hickory Ridge quickly built a reputation for its talented lineup. Senior Kiana Davis’ was named all-conference for the third straight year and led the Bulls by averaging 12.8 points and 4.2 rebounds.Hickory Ridge’s success also came with three underclassmen making significant contributions. Sophomore point guard Laura McManimen returned to the starting lineup and forwards Zharia Brown (11 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game) and Sydney Miller (6.1 points per game in 11 games) were key freshmen.Hickory Ridge reached the second round of the state playoffs by avenging one of its early season losses to Cuthbertson in the first round. Player of the year: Kelsi Mahoney, Robinson, Jr. – When recounting some games in which Mahoney stood out this season, Robinson coach Lin Smithson selected a game in which her star player’s defense was more important than her offense.In a 57-44 victory over Cornelius Hough, 6-foot-3 Mahoney was assigned to slow down the eventual MECKA 8 4A player of the year, Julia Brown. Mahoney held Brown to two points while scoring 11 of her own.Mahoney averaged 13.8 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game while shooting 44 percent from the field. She was named all-conference for the third straight year.In an overtime loss at Mallard Creek, Mahoney scored a season-high of 24 points. She tallied 22 earlier in the season in a win over Hickory Ridge.“These better teams we played knew how to strategically plan our games,” said Mahoney. “They knew who to key on. They doubled me a lot, but it made me a better player – getting my teammates the ball and helping them to score.”Mahoney has verbally committed to play for George Washington University (Washington, D.C.).
Tuesday, Apr. 08, 2014
Cabarrus girls’ basketball: All-around play of Mahoney helps Robinson earn playoff berth
All-Cabarrus News girls’ basketball
Kelsi Mahoney, Robinson, Jr., forward/guard – Averaged 13.8 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks per game. All-MECKA 4A conference player helped Robinson to the state playoffs.
Mahaley Holit, Central Cabarrus, Fr., guard – Second in the SPC by averaging 17.5 points per game; first in the conference with 4.8 assists. Also turned in 3.6 steals and three rebounds per game.
Altana Grant, A.L. Brown, Jr., guard – One of the best players in the MECKA, she averaged almost 15 points, six rebounds, 2.5 steals, and two assists.
Taylor Sehm-Crowley, Cox Mill, Sr., guard – Led Cox Mill to a school record of eight wins. Averaged 14 points, five assists and three steals during an all-conference season.
Kiana Davis, Hickory Ridge, Sr., guard – An All-SPC honoree for the third season, Davis averaged 12.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals. She made 14 of 27 three-point attempts.
Ellen Montgomery, Cannon School, Sr., guard – All-conference and MVP of the Cannon Classic. Averaged 13.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists as Cannon won school record of 18 games.
Shatiya Bost, Northwest Cabarrus, Sr., guard – Team MVP for the Trojans by averaging 11 points and eight assists. An All-SPC selection.
Zharia Brown, Hickory Ridge, Fr., forward – All-conference freshman helped Hickory Ridge to a 15-win season. Averaged 12.2 points and 11.8 rebounds.
Jada Black, Concord, Soph., forward – Averaged 10 points and eight rebounds. An all-conference selection and a strong presence in the paint.
Ramesha Bennett, Northwest Cabarrus, Jr., forward – Trojans’ offensive player of the year averaged 16 points and seven rebounds per game.
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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