Byrd, Smith lead Dream Team
They’ve been there before and done it again. Brookhaven Academyguards Kelli Byrd and Lauren Smith have been selected Co-MostValuable Players on The DAILY LEADER’s All-Lincoln County GirlsBasketball Team for a second straight season.
Smith and Byrd were instrumental in leading the Lady Cougars toa fourth straight Class AA State Tournament Championship. Theyfinished 36-2 after a perfect 43-0 mark the previous campaign.
Joining Byrd and Smith on the Dream Team are senior teammatesMallory Logan and Kristian Davidson. Also on the team are AliciaKennedy of West Lincoln, Jordan Britt of Loyd Star and Alisha Masonof Enterprise.
Smith and Byrd helped Brookhaven Academy make MPSA All-Starhistory when the school landed them, plus Logan and Davidson, inthe Class AA-AAA dream game.
Smith, a 5-foot-5 playmaker, has improved her all-around gamesince last season. She averaged 9.7 points, 6 assists and 3 stealsper game.
“Lauren is the consummate point guard,” said Brookhaven Academycoach Barry Gray. “She was the hardest worker in the weight roomand in plyometrics (heavy ropes and jumping boxes).
“Her passing skills and her 3-point range got better this year.She could move a lot faster with her hands,” Gray continued. “Shehad to be able to make the decisions, moving at a faster rate.
“Lauren is probably our most unselfish player,” he added. “Shehas been our spiritual leader. She set the tone for the personalityof our team.”
Byrd, a 5-6 senior, led the Lady Cougars’ attack. She averaged18.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4 steals per game.
“Kelli is probably the most tenacious defender I’ve evercoached,” said Gray. “She never gets tired. She was probably ourmost improved offensive player.”
Smith praised her teammates, especially Byrd. “Kelli is a veryintense and very athletic basketball player. She made me a lotbetter player.”
Byrd returned the compliment, saying, “Lauren is a good leaderas our point guard. She also is a great leader in ourdevotions.”
Logan, a 5-7 senior, averaged 13.7 points, 3 rebounds and 3assists per game. She is recognized for her long-range shootingfrom behind the 3-point line.
“Overall, Mallory was our hardest player to guard,” said Gray,”because she could do so many things with the ball in her hands.Her offensive skills were extraordinary. The bigger the game got,the harder she played.”
Davidson, a 6-foot senior, showed improvement in scoring andrebounding this season. She averaged 14 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2steals per game.
“Kristian has been a valuable asset to our program for twoyears,” said Gray. “Her offensive skill level went up a good bitand her low post offense improved.”
Kennedy, a 5-8 senior forward, was instrumental in leading theWest Lincoln Lady Bears (27-5) back to the Class 1A StateTournament where they advanced to the semifinals. She averaged 16.1points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game for Coach LaneYoung.
“Alicia improved her outside shooting and that complimented herinside game,” said Young. “As a rebounder, she has a knack forgetting the basketball.”
Mason, a 5-10 junior forward, averaged 25 points, 10 reboundsand 4.5 assists per game for the Lady Yellow Jackets who finished15-10. She led them to the South Mississippi Tournament.
“Alisha loves the game and she loves to win,” said Enterprisecoach Jill Nations. “She’s a very good athlete and she works on hergame away from school.”
Britt, a 5-7 senior guard, averaged 21.1 points, 6 rebounds, 3steals and 2.8 assists per game for the Lady Hornets. A torn ACLended her senior year Jan. 18 and Loyd Star finished 16-16.
“Jordan is a student of the game and she worked real hard toimprove,” said Loyd Star coach Lori Britt. “Her outside shootingimproved. She always worked hard to create open shots for others onour team.”
HONORABLE MENTION WITH DISTINCTION
Bogue Chitto – Meleah Brown, Tanesha Johnson,Shasta Porter, Kimberlee Thomas.
Brookhaven –Swayze Black, Ashley Leggett,Blanche Wilson.
Brookhaven Academy – Emily Langley, AllysonPickett.
Enterprise – Kaylin Burke, DeannaAlbritton.
Loyd Star – Shara Johnson, Hailey Ratcliff.
West Lincoln – Lauren Smith, Erica Shaw, MonicaPrice.