All-County Basketball: Salisbury's Ashia Holmes is Player of Year
By Ryan Bisesi
Ashia Holmes may be hard to distinguish when not in uniform for the Hornets. Without the No. 4 underneath her face, it’s hard to differentiate between Ashia and her twin sister Ayanna, No. 13. Both carry the same baby-faced structure at alternating guard positions for Salisbury as integral parts of the Hornets’ legendary run during the last decade. Both carry a strong hoops pedigree with three 2A state championships. Both will play college basketball with Ashia at Radford and Ayanna at Charlotte. But now Ashia will have a trump card over her twin, and that’s a Player of the Year Award from the Post in her senior season.
Holmes, one of the leaders of a remarkable Rowan County senior class, played tenacious defense and showed leadership skills at the point to define the Hornets’ relentless, yet under control style. She averaged 10.4 points six steals and seven rebounds per game this year and had 857 points in four seasons on the varsity squad. Those aren’t gaudy stats by any means, but her value was measured on the defensive end of the floor the most. With Salisbury forcing around 20 turnovers a game and keeping a large part of their offense in transition, the Hornets wore other teams out.
“On the defensive end, I felt like I kicked it up another notch this year,” Holmes said. “I applied more steals this year.”
That tenacity was demonstrated the most in the waning moments of Salisbury’s toughest game of the season, a 47-43 win at North Surry in the sectional final. The Hornets won their first two playoff games by an average of 42.5 points, but faced a worthy Greyhounds squad that had the ball down one with 26 seconds to play. Holmes led Salisbury with 14 points in that game despite fouling out. Her sister bombarded Morgan Midkiff on North’s final possession to cause a jump ball.
“I believe that was the wildest game we played all year,” Holmes said.
“She goes 110 in a 55 mile per hour zone all the time,” Salisbury coach Chris McNeil said. “What makes her special is she’s able to adjust quickly.”
Of course, Holmes didn’t have to do it all by herself. With three other starters already committed to play college basketball and Brielle Blaire already receiving attention as a freshman, the scoring remained balanced throughout the season. Holmes looked forward to distributing the ball to sister Ayanna, Olivia Rankin, Jessica Heilig and Blaire most games, the combination of which overwhelmed the Central Carolina Conference. Salisbury didn’t come remotely close to losing a game in conference play.
Holmes, a Radford signee, now keeps going forward, putting away the Hornet memories for now and looking ahead to college. Radford coaches came to the state championship game, where Holmes scored 10 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and seven steals in 29 minutes. She was the championship game’s MVP as well as the regional tournament MVP.
“We’ve accomplished something else in our careers and it’s nice to have it,” Holmes said. “But now it’s time to move on.”
At 110 miles an hour.