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All-County Basketball: The girls team

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
We always shoot for 12, and we’ll shoot for 12 again in 2012. But there are 14 this time — call it a three-way tie for 12th — because it made no sense to leave any of these 14 off.
State champ Salisbury had five girls that were automatic, while North, East and South all won often enough that they deserved a representative.
Carson and West won 18 games each. Both had three no-doubters.
Sometimes we don’t have to consider freshmen, but Salisbury’s Brielle Blaire was one of the county’s best five, and West’s Nycieko Dixon arguably was in the top 10.
Basically, it was just a fantastic year for girls basketball in the county. Several girls — South’s Lauren Miller, East’s Karleigh Wike, Carson’s Tyesha Phillips and North’s Tiffany Brown come to mind — didn’t make this team but made their respective all-conference teams.
The team:
Ashia Holmes, SHS, Sr.
The 5-8 standout’s 10.4 points per game didn’t tell the story. Her defense (seven steals in the 2A state championship game) and ballhandling made the Hornet machine hum. The Western Regional MVP and championship game MVP, she had a triple-double (10 steals) in a game against Lexington.
Signed with Radford.
Ayanna Holmes, SHS, Sr.
Scored 8.8 points per game, but that was the tip of the iceberg. At 5-8, she brought the same winning priorities to the table that her twin did — defense first, pass second, rebound third, score fourth. Christmas tournament MVP and has 11 assists in the state title game.
Signed with Charlotte.
Brielle Blaire, SHS, Fr.
People say she’s 6-foot-4. I’m convinced she’s more like 6-1. One thing everyone agrees on is she’s already an unbelievable player and her potential is unlimited.
She led the state champions in scoring as a freshman (11.5 ppg) and poured in 20 (10-for-18) in the state championship game.
Blaire can score inside or outside at will, and she’s only going to get better as a shotblocker and rebounder.
Ayana Avery, West, Sr.
At 5-5, she’s simply one of the great scorers in county history.
Avery led Rowan in scoring — by a lot — with 19.5 points per game and scored a school-record 1,995 for her career.
She played 104 games for West in four varsity seasons and averaged 19.2 per game — second in school history.
Signed with Radford.
Olivia Rankin, SHS, Sr.
About 6-2, smooth, efficient and a very high-percentage option in Salisbury’s offense. Her 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting in the state championship game was a typical outing for her.
She averaged 12.3 points per game, and while we don’t have all the numbers, I’d bet she shot 55 percent from the floor for the season.
Signed with Charlotte.
Shay Steele, West, Soph.
Huge future and one heck of a player now. At 6-2, she’s such a shotblocking force that she’s a threat for a triple-double every game, and she also was the county’s No. 2 scorer (13.3 ppg).
Long, fast and left-handed, she just has to avoid foul trouble a little better to become a candidate for NPC Player of the Year honors.
Kelly Dulkoski, Carson, So.
The biggest reason Carson jumped from 11-16 to 18-7 was the development of the Cougars’ point guard. In a perfect world, she’d be bigger and stronger, but at 5-6 she’s a very good defender, a very good passer, a very good ballhandler and a very good 3-point shooter.
That’s a lot of very goods.
Jessica Heilig, SHS, Sr.
Always talented, the 6-1 Heilig was great down the stretch for the Hornets — 12 points and nine boards in the Western Regional final and 16 and nine in the title game.
She averaged just under 10 points a game.
Signed with Gardner-Webb.
Allison Blackwell, Carson, So.
On the road to being the program’s first 1,000-point scorer, she’s more than halfway there.
The 5-9 Blackwell and Dulkoski tied for seventh in county scoring with 11.7 points per game. Blackwell rebounds aggressively and scores on everything from stickbacks to 3-pointers.
Averaged 15.4 ppg in Carson’s last seven outings.
Chloe Monroe, Carson, Jr.
Had to lead the county in 3-point shooting percentage.
She was fourth in scoring (12.0 ppg), adding a lot of layups off steals to her impressive stack of 3s.
The 5-5 Monroe’s high game was 23 points in a win against West Rowan, and she’s already Carson’s all-time scoring leader.
Nycieko Dixon, West, Fr.
Only 5-4 but very quick, she mixed enough 3-pointers with her fastbreak layups to score 11.2 points per game. She topped 20 points in back-to-back NPC outings.
Dixon put up a 300-point freshman season, which makes her just about a lock for 1,000 down the road.
Nicole Barringer, South, Sr.
The 5-9 Barringer, is a volleyball setter first, but she found consistency down the stretch, shot the lights out and wrapped up her basketball career in style.
She averaged a team-high 9.6 points a game and pushed that average to 11.7 over South’s last 15 games. In her final two outings, she totaled 41 against West and East.
Teaunna Cuthbertson, North, Jr.
Played a lot of the season at less than 100 percent, but not many girls could bound into a passing lane, make a steal and zoom down the floor for a layup like this 5-8 track star could.
Cuthbertson averaged 11.3 points a game and bumped that to 16.5 ppg in a late-season spree in which North knocked off four YVC foes in a row. Those wins including big upsets of Albemarle and Chatham Central.
Has a shot at 1,000 points.
Olivia Sabo, East, Sr.
A 6-footer who is a college prospect, Sabo averaged a team-best 9.6 points a game with a high of 21 against Davie.

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