Guard packs a big game with tall list of accomplishments

Standing a slight 5-foot-1, Divonnie Powell is small in stature. Ask her to talk about her noteworthy abilities and you'll find she is a girl of few words.

But when it comes to playing basketball, the Central Cabarrus junior packs a big game.

As the Vikings' point guard, Powell is much more than a ball distributor. She leads the team in a variety of statistical categories: points, rebounds, assists and steals. In a year and a half as a starter, she has helped Central turn into a middle-of-the-pack threat in the South Piedmont Conference.

"We go as she goes," said first-year Central coach Scott Fortune.

The Vikings are competitive again in the conference, having won three league games and working themselves, in Fortune's opinion, toward a possible state playoff berth.

Powell has been a big reason for that, leading the Vikings by averaging 10.2 points, 3.1 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

Senior forward Mellena Helms, senior guard Jessica Hubbard and junior forward KeKaya Thompson are also having solid seasons.

A veteran high school boys coach, Fortune said this year's Vikings "play the hardest and compete the most" of any team he's ever had. Powell's progression as a team leader has been at the front of that movement.

"She's really developing as a point guard," said Fortune. "She's really starting to run the team, to the point where I don't have to say much to her."

Powell has really improved in that area since Fortune took over the program last spring. The coach easily recognized Powell's raw talent, and during off-season workouts she started to refine it.

Fortune saw glimpses of his team coming together when the Vikings attended team camp at UNC Charlotte during the summer.

"You can always tell when Divonnie's playing well," said Fortune. "The team is playing hard. We're playing as a team. We're playing great defense. She makes us go."

With an undersized team, Fortune likes the Vikings to run the court and push the tempo. That's when Powell is mostly in her comfort zone, using her quickness and athleticism to slalom through defenses.

Though they were both defeats, Powell has had some of her biggest games against some of the SPC's stiffest competition.

In a Jan. 3 game against Jay M. Robinson High, Powell notched 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals. Facing Concord on Dec. 20, she scored 14, grabbed six rebounds, dished out six assists and had four steals.

In an early-season game against West Stanly, Powell's three-point play in the waning seconds helped the Vikings pull out a 56-52 victory.

The game against Concord had special meaning for Powell. As a freshman, she played on Concord's undefeated junior varsity team.

"I played my best against Concord because I used to go to Concord," said Powell. "That pushes me, seeing my old teammates."

Powell was disappointed to have to transfer, she said, but she quickly adjusted to her new school and teammates. She came off the bench for half of her sophomore season but cracked Central's starting lineup late in the season.

Powell is also a solid middle- and long-distance runner and has competed in USA Track and Field national competitions. She's contemplating whether she will compete for Central Cabarrus this season.