CONYERS - Courtney Hurt doesn't have to talk a big game. Her game speaks for itself.
In her four years at Salem, Hurt has scored 1,933 points and tallied 1,178 rebounds going into Saturday's Class AAAA first-round state playoff game at Mays in Atlanta.
She is Salem's all-time leading scorer and holds 12 school records. This season alone, Hurt is averaging 28 points and 12 rebounds a game, helping lead the Lady Seminoles to their fourth straight 20-win season and state playoff berth.
She's already starting to accumulate the first of many postseason honors. Earlier this month, Hurt was named the Class AAAA Player of the Year in the North by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association. She also has been invited to play in the annual GACA All-Star Game.
"She's definitely been our rock," said Salem coach Bill Roberts. "She's been our go-to person and the staple that we know will be consistent night in and night out. That consistency has got us another 20-win season, our fourth one in a row."
Hurt has not known a season at Salem when her team did not earn a state tournament berth.
But Hurt's greatness did not arrive overnight. Roberts said her success has been the result of years of hard work on her part.
"Like most freshmen, she had some ability, but mentally, she wasn't quite prepared for the varsity level. Still, she stepped in there, started playing some games and got her confidence up," Roberts said. "Her sophomore year was really her coming-out year. As a sophomore, she averaged something like 17 points and 11 rebounds a game. She really started to show some promise as a sophomore.
"She had a great junior year, averaging over 20 points a game. She was All State and the MVP of several tournaments. This past summer, she joined the Nike travel team, and that boosted her confidence and her abilities even more. Since she came back from that, she's been a phenomenal player."
Hurt and the Lady Seminoles will take the court this weekend in the state tournament. She will try to cap off a stellar career before moving on to the collegiate level. She has signed with Virginia Commonwealth University.
Despite Hurt's accolades and the volumes her game speaks on the court, Roberts said she has always been a quiet hero.
"Courtney's not much of a talker," Roberts said. "She's a kid that sits back, listens, learns and produces. She's always been a quiet performer. She works hard. In four years, she's never missed a practice and she's never missed a game. She's just one of those types of players that comes in and does what she needs to do.
"She takes everything seriously, and that's what's made her better. She decided that she wanted to play basketball, and since then, her focus has been on basketball and academics. She has a 3.5 GPA, and she's kept it her entire high school career. She's been a focused kid, and that's really made her a wonderful kid to coach."
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: Basketball playoffs
Class AAAA girls
Heritage at Southwest DeKalb, 4 p.m.
Salem at Mays, 6 p.m.