Staff photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith Alcovy's Ashley Williams proved herself on the court to be named Citizen Girls Player of the Year
COVINGTON -- Girls basketball locally has improved to the point where two players are playing at major Division I schools with more than 10 players averaging double-figure scoring and three players averaging a double-double.
With all the top local talent to choose from, Alcovy's Ashley Williams managed to rise above the rest to take the Citizen All-Area Player of the Year honors.
During her high school career, Williams, who will be playing and possibly starting for Alabama next season, scored more than 1,000 points while bringing down more than 1,000 rebounds. She averaged 16 points and 14 rebounds per game in her senior year.
Salem's Ayanna Mitchell played a big part in helping the Lady Seminoles advance to the second round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. Mitchell also averaged a double-double with 18.9 points and 10.2 boards per game.
Leading the all-area team in scoring, averaging 19.3 points per game, was Rockdale's Breanna Richardson. With 540 points, Richardson accounted for about one-third of Rockdale's offense. She also had 8.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.
When Newton's Precious Price had the ball, there was no doubt that she was looking at the net. Price led the Lady Rams in scoring, averaging 17.3 points and three assists per game.
Joining teammate Williams on the all-area team was Meagan Tucker. Tucker -- who with Williams is heading to play SEC basketball, only at rival Auburn -- also averaged 16 points per game while spreading the ball around with four assists per game. She is leaving the Lady Tigers as their all-time leading scorer.
Of the six local schools, five made it to the state playoffs and four advanced to the second round.
One reason for the improvement in girls basketball is the better level of coaching. In her second year as a head coach, Salem's Rochone Dilligard led the Lady Seminoles to a 19-11 record after the team went 5-19 the year before she got there. She led Salem to a Region 8-AAAAA championship and a 72-40 win over Paulding County in the first round of the state playoffs.
Making the second team are Eastside's Jazzmine Cook (14 points, five steals, two assists), Heritage's Arejana Dawkins (11 points, three assists, two blocks, four steals), Salem's Shay Tarver (10.9 points, 4.4 rebounds, 2.5 steals, three assists), Rockdale's Brianna Patton (10.2 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Newton's Deandra Reed (10 points, two rebounds).
Getting honorable mention are Newton's Sonia Forney and Cynteria Langhorne, Heritage's Che' Hardaway, Salem's Nikkira Brown and Alcovy's Lakeiyah Sorrells.