2009 All-Rowan County Basketball: The girls team
By Mike London
Teammates the past six seasons, East Rowan seniors Ashley Collins and Katelynne Poole combined for 742 points and a 30-4 record as Erwin Middle School players.
As four-year varsity Mustangs, they teamed for 2,276 points, celebrated 60 victories and became the first 1,000-point classmates in East’s half-century of girls basketball.
Ed Dupree, sportswriter turned Erwin assistant coach, recalls Collins and Poole playing in a three-on-three tournament as rising seventh-graders at a Catawba camp. With help from Jasmine Clinding and Haley Barrier, they beat all the rising eighth-graders to win a championship ó or maybe it was a campionship.
This season marked the first time since they became teammates that Poole scored more points than Collins, although it was a photo finish (324-321) when they were juniors.
Poole scored 141 more points than her teammate as a senior, not because Collins lost a step, but because Poole elevated her game considerably. Poole’s grown a lot from the girl who scored 54 points as a frantic freshman.
Both Mustangs were automatic picks for their third straight all-county team.
Also automatic were three more seniors who are three-time selections ó Salisbury’s De’Rya Wylie and Shi-Heria Shipp and South Rowan’s Taylor May.
West Rowan sophomore Ayana Avery repeats and is on track to be a four-time all-county player in 2011. The last girls to go 4-for-4 were North Rowan’s Sophilia Hipps and Salisbury’s Saybah Sammy. They made every team from 2003-06.
Another repeater is Salisbury junior Bubbles Phifer, the 2008 Player of the Year.
Newcomers are Salisbury sophomore Ashia Holmes, East sophomore Olivia Rankin, North junior Symphony Roberts, North senior Quon Cuthbertson and South senior Nikki Graham.
No Cougars for the second straight year, but don’t be shocked to see a Carson freshman on this squad in 2010.
Shi-Heria Shipp, Salisbury, Sr.A special talent, about 6 feet tall, she can defend a center or a point guard with her unique combination of length and quickness.
Runner-up for CCC Player of the Year again, but the county’s best this season.
The Western Regional MVP and three-time Moir Christmas Classic MVP averaged 13.7 points for the balanced state champs. Scored 1,274 points, fourth in Salisbury history.
Bubbles Phifer, Salisbury, Jr.She shot 2-for-24 in the Western Regional, but she still made the all-regional team. Her defense was that good.
Averaged 13.3 points, down from last season’s 14.8, but her athletic runners and arcing bombs fell when the Hornets needed them most. Brilliant offensively and defensively in the 2A title game and earned MVP honors.
Her 1,008 points ranks ninth in SHS history.
Ayana Avery, West, So.A scoring machine, but the Falcons didn’t have offensive threats to take the pressure off the 5-5 guard until Peyton Saywer became eligible the last 10 games. Tied a school mark with 38 points against Mooresville and enjoyed two more 30-plus outings.
Led the county in scoring (20.2), already is 11th on the school’s all-time list with 864 points and could challenge school record-holder Hillary Hampton’s 1,814.
Katelynne Poole, East, Sr.
Had by far her finest season as a senior, averaging 17.0 points a game, second in the county to Avery.
The 5-7 Brevard signee scored in bunches on 3s, drives and free throws and was in double figures in 24 of East’s 27 games. She scored 24 or more points seven times, with a high of 32 against West Iredell.
Sixth in East history with 1,101 points.
Taylor May, South, Sr.The only time the 6-foot May wasn’t double-teamed was when she was triple-teamed, but she still averaged 13.8 points and was in double figures 21 times. Finished with 1,000 points on the nose and ranks No. 8 all-time at South. Signed with Catawba.
Ashley Collins, East, Sr.If you total up rebounds, assists, steals and points, either Collins or Shipp led the county.
Strong for her size, the 5-7 Collins could rebound with anyone. She shot great percentages and had a WNBA spin-move off the dribble.
As steady a scorer as there’s ever been, she averaged 11.6, 11.2 and 11.8 points her last three seasons.
De’Rya Wylie, Salisbury, Sr.Generously listed at 5-8, but she was the hustling inside presence for a state-championship team.
A huge heart. Accepted every challenge, fought for every rebound.
Averaged 10.3 points and had to average close to double-digit boards. Scrapped her way to 957 career points, 10th in school history.
Olivia Rankin, East, So.A 6-footer, Rankin has a high ceiling. Made serious strides, growing from 3.8 points a game as a freshman sub to a steady 10.5 scorer as a sophomore starter. Scored in double figures 15 times.
Had 12, 12 and 17 in three games with NPC champ Statesville. That says a lot about her potential.
Needs to do a better job of avoiding foul trouble, but that comes with experience.
Quon Cuthbertson, North, Sr.Very mobile for her size, Cuthbertson, a 6-1 post player, averaged 14.0 points and scored in double figures 18 times. She can send West Rowan a thank-you note for her all-county status. She poured in 71 points in three games against the Falcons, including sprees of 27 and a career-best 29.
Ranks 19th in school history with 693 points.
Symphony Roberts, North, Jr.Quiet and smooth with a feathery outside touch, the 5-6 Roberts doesn’t have name recognition yet.
Still, she scored 11.6 points a game (eighth in the county) and had outbursts of 23 and 21 in CCC games.
Took a nice step up after splitting her sophomore year between varsity and jayvee. Salisbury held Roberts down pretty well in three meetings, but she averaged 14.8 points against the rest of North’s schedule.
Ashia Holmes, Salisbury, So.Not an easy decision between Ashia and twin sister Ayanna as Salisbury’s fourth representative.
They’re almost identical in talent and production. Ayanna actually scored a bit more, but the 5-9 Ashia was a force with key buckets and three blocked shots in the state championship game.
She also had 15 points in the Western Regional semifinal against Mitchell. She was a beast in that one.
Nikki Graham, South, Sr.
The 5-5 Graham had her season cut short at 20 games by a torn ACL, but South had its best season since 2002 and deserved two on the squad.
Graham, who made All-NPC, had a pair of 20-point games and finished ninth in the county in scoring at 10.6 points per game.