Salem's Courtney Hurt produced a senior season that was truly mind-boggling.
Nothing the opposition tried could slow down the Lady Seminoles' standout. When it was all said and done, Hurt had produced one of the finest basketball seasons in local history.
In fact, her senior year can be summed by this statement: She made history, a lot of it.
So it should come as no surprise that Hurt is the Girls Basketball Player of Year for the Citizen's 2008 All-Area Girls Basketball Team.
The Coach of the Year is Salem's Bill Roberts, who guided his squad back to the state playoffs for a fourth straight season. The Lady Seminoles lost in the first round to Mays, but they still managed to record their fourth straight 20-win season, finishing with a 20-9 record.
Even though Roberts had Hurt and fellow senior Rebecca Mitchell to rely on, the veteran coach infused the rest of his lineup with a youth movement, as three sophomores took over starting roles at different times.
But the Lady Seminoles never missed a beat, claiming the Region 8-AAAA South subregion title and finishing third in the Region 8-AAAA Tournament.
· Courtney Hurt (Senior, Salem): Hurt capped off her stellar season in grand style, leading the state in scoring at 29 points a game. The senior also averaged 12 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots a game. She finishes her career as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder in Salem history with 1,990 points and 1,172 rebounds. She signed with Virginia Commonwealth University, becoming the first girls or boys basketball player in Salem history to sign with a Division I school.
· Tiffany Moody (Junior, Alcovy): Moody, a forward, produced a strong junior season, leading the Lady Tigers in both scoring and rebounding.
· Shay Marks (Senior, Newton): One of the area's most versatile athletes, Marks paced the Lady Rams in scoring at 13.7 points a game. The senior also averaged 4.5 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.8 assists a contest.
· Jade Cook (Freshman, Eastside): Cook was one of this winter's most pleasant surprises, leading the Lady Eagles in scoring and rebounds. The freshman guard averaged 11 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists a game.
· Sarah Herrington (Junior, Heritage): Herrington played a key role as the Lady Patriots ended an eight-year postseason drought. The junior guard averaged 14 points and 2.5 rebounds a game. She shot 45 percent from the field and hit 70 percent of her free throws.
· Neicey Lewis (Senior, Heritage): Lewis shook off an early season injury to produce another strong season for the Lady Patriots. The senior guard averaged 14 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 steals a game. Lewis will play in the Division I ranks next season at Mercer.
· Rebecca Mitchell (Senior, Salem): Mitchell, a point guard, quarterbacked the Lady Seminoles to their fourth straight state playoff appearance. The senior averaged 11.3 points, 5 assists and 3 steals per game.
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: All-area girls team list
· Player of the Year: Courtney Hurt, Salem
· Coach of the Year: Bill Roberts, Salem
· Center: Courtney Hurt (Senior, Salem)
· Forward: Tifffany Moody (Junior, Alcovy)
· Forward: Shay Marks (Senior, Newton)
· Guard: Jade Cook (Freshman, Eastside)
· Guard: Sarah Herrington (Junior, Heritage)
· Guard: Neicey Lewis (Senior, Heritage)
· Guard: Rebecca Mitchell (Senior, Salem)
· Eastside: Antonia Mullins, Raven Williams
· Heritage: Precious Elkins, Sylvia Elkins, Zaneta Gray, Jasmine Middlebrooks
· Newton: Loren Wilkins
· Rockdale: Porshia Cleveland, Keeisha Foreman, Giovanni Sims
· Salem: Jaleen Thomas, Kentrell White, Ariel Wynter