Lady Bulldogs lead conference honors
Published 10:21 pm Friday, February 28, 2014
It was clear who ruled the Ironclad Conference this year in the realm of girls’ basketball, and the coaches of the other five teams made sure King’s Fork High School got its due.
Lady Bulldogs head coach Maurice Fofana and senior Khadedra Croker were unanimously voted as conference Coach of the Year and conference Player of the Year, respectively.
Both had received similar awards two years prior from the Southeastern District, but neither failed to express gratitude for being recognized again.
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“I was very happy about it,” Fofana said in the wake of his team’s 19-2 overall regular season record.
His first thought as to why he received the award was in regard to the younger players he worked with this year. Yes, the Lady Bulldogs were led by Virginia Tech commit Khadedra Croker and fellow senior Brittany Alston, who was named to the all-conference first team.
“We also had some freshmen and sophomores that played well,” Fofana said.
He credited summer work with helping them be effective in the regular season.
Another thing he said drew the award “was that we went undefeated in our conference, the old (district) and new conference.”
Fofana said he would have been surprised had Croker not received the Player of the Year award because she was so dominant.
Votes were determined specifically by how a player performed against conference opponents, and Croker averaged 19.9 points, 16 rebounds, and eight blocks per game.
“It means a lot,” Croker said of the recognition. “It was my last year, so I’m very grateful that I did get it.”
Fofana elaborated on why she was given the award.
“It’s the numbers, and then it’s just her presence,” he said, adding that when she did not block a shot, she often altered one, forcing teams to change their approach. “When you start game planning for a kid, that’s clearly the most valuable player.”
Brittany Alston averaged 10 points, eight assists and four steals en route to her first-time first team honor.
“I was so happy for Brittany because I felt like over the years, she has been short-changed because she’s a passer … was never a big scorer,” Fofana said.
He said he has gone each year into the voting meeting saying she was worthy of the first team. He added that she earned it this year because she was a difference-maker in a lot of games through not only passing but also scoring and rebounding.
King’s Fork freshman Cydney Nichols was named to the second team.
Nansemond River High School sophomore Aneka Yelverton was a unanimous selection to the first team, marking her first-ever all-conference or all-district honor.
Lady Warriors head coach R. Calvin Mason said he was a little surprised, but was “proud that she was able to make it this year.”
“(Her) improvement actually was kind of remarkable when you think of where she was as a freshman,” he said.
Last year, she averaged a little more than four points but worked hard in the off-season and finished the 2013-14 regular season averaging 16.5 points per game.
“She made more three-pointers than anybody in the region,” Mason said, as she produced 58 baskets from beyond the arc.
Yelverton registered at least seven games with at least 20 points and scored in double figures in all but two games. She also averaged a little over three rebounds.
Junior Laura Ortiz and sophomore Sabree Clegg made the second team.
Lakeland High School senior Kyiesha Barrett was selected to the all-conference first team.
“I was happy because she had been my selection for the last three years,” Lady Cavaliers head coach Brandey Blunt said. “She’d never made it (before).”
Their coach-player relationship dates back five years to when Blunt was Lakeland’s junior varsity coach. She said Barrett was an outstanding player that she has had the joy of coaching.
The first team honor “was well-deserved because she’s carried our team for the last couple of years, just being a leader on the floor and getting everything jump-started,” Blunt said.
Barrett averaged about 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals per game.
Senior Logan Reid made the second team.