Player of the Year
Looking for the spectacular? McKenzie was a one-girl highlight reel. The senior guard seemed able to score any way she wanted.
"She can stick the three, she can handle the ball and she's a great rebounder," Mount Hebron coach Scott Robinson said. "She has unbelievable body control, she's so strong and she has great range."
The Howard County Player of the Year did everything but dunk, although she could get up for being 5 feet 8.
"She was unstoppable," Atholton coach Maureen Shacreaw said. "I scouted them against Reservoir and Mount Hebron. At one point against Reservoir, she went through four bodies and scored and she didn't touch anybody. Against [Hebron], they threw an alley-oop to her and she got it and put it in. You don't see a girl do that."
McKenzie was the main reason for the Scorpions' ascent over the past four years.
When she arrived, they were 5-15, but they steadily rose, finishing 18-5 this season with a No. 15 ranking.
She scored 634 points this season, averaging 28. She also averaged 13.6 rebounds, 4.4 steals and four assists. In 23 games, she posted 21 double doubles and four triple doubles. She scored 30 points or more nine times, and her 1,744 career points came within 35 of the Howard County record. She also had 981 career rebounds.
Perhaps her best performance came in her career finale, scoring 35 of her team's 53 points in the regional playoff loss to a tough Gwynn Park squad.
"She got our program back on the map, as far as us trying to get back to winning and get a little respect from some of the other teams in the county," Oakland Mills coach Seth Willingham said. "Every year, our wins have gone up and we've become very competitive. A lot of that is due to her not just scoring and what she does on the court, but she's a great kid."
McKenzie, who has an academic average of 3.67, signed early to play at Loyola.
Asya BussieSeton Keough
A repeat first-team All-Metro selection, Bussie took on more responsibility this season. The game plan was to get her the ball more, and that was fine with the 6-foot-3 center.
Strong inside with a smooth touch, Bussie averaged 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. She drew a lot of fouls, but she didn't commit many. In a regular-season win at St. Frances in which she scored her 1,000th career point, she had 15 points and 12 rebounds. She also scored 16 points in a win over Riverdale Baptist. She has 1,225 career points and 855 career rebounds.
With her height, Bussie also played a key role in the Gators' hallmark pressure defense, picking off passes or forcing bad ones. On the offensive end, she put the ball on the ground more and shot from outside, where she had a solid mid-range jumper.
Cassie Cooke Winters Mill
The Carroll County Player of the Year led her team to its best season ever -- a 25-1 finish and a strong effort in a Class 2A state semifinal clash of unbeaten teams that they lost by one point.
Cooke, a 5-foot-8 junior guard, had 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals in the title game, a heartbreaking 54-53 loss to No. 4 Mount Hebron, which went on to win the championship. A transfer from Westminster, Cooke was steady all season with a strong repertoire of inside and outside skills. She could post up and shoot the three-pointer. In the state final, she hit a buzzer-beating final shot from a step over midcourt.
She also had a keen eye for her teammates around the basket and was a pest on defense. Cooke averaged 13.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 5.2 steals for the No. 5 Falcons.
Simone Egwu Arundel
The Wildcats' 6-foot-3 center gets her points one way or another -- scoring in the paint or drawing the foul and hitting the free throw. Egwu shot 62.3 percent from the field and 83 percent from the free-throw line.
She averaged 16.1 points for the No. 3 Wildcats, the Class 4A state runners-up. A power player who has been a steady inside force for three years, the junior already has more than 1,000 career points and is on pace to become the second most prolific scorer in school history. The Wildcats have run their string of Anne Arundel County titles to six during Egwu's career.
Egwu also is a force on the defensive end. Although she blocked 46 shots, she is even better at forcing opponents to alter their shots. When they miss, she often picks off the rebound, averaging 6.2 defensive rebounds within her 10.4 season average.
Shatyra Hawkes St. Frances
The 5-foot-3 dynamo stepped up to lead the young Panthers when their best player and only returning starter was injured. When All-Metro center Kandice Green suffered a sprained ankle and was out about six weeks, the sophomore guard took over the on-court leadership with her ability to score in many ways and feed her teammates.
The Panthers like to run and, despite her youth, Hawkes was able to execute at top speed. She also came up huge in the clutch. In the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship against then-No. 1 Seton Keough, she made big plays late in regulation, and her free throw sent the game into overtime, when the Panthers pulled off the upset, 43-39.
Hawkes averaged 17 points, three assists and three steals as the Panthers finished 26-5 and ranked No. 1.
Danielle Parker Dulaney
A repeat first-team selection, Parker did a little bit of everything for the Lions, who reached the Class 4A state semifinal. A natural guard, the 6-foot-2 senior had to play more than she would have liked in the post, but she handled either assignment well.
She averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds in leading the Lions (19-4) to the state final four for the first time since 1988. Parker started her career at St. Frances but transferred to Dulaney as a junior. In her two years with the Lions, they went 40-5. Perhaps her best game came against Catonsville, when she scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds in a 51-47 loss. During the regional playoffs, Parker averaged 24.5 points and 13 rebounds.
Athletic and quick, she proved a matchup problem for a lot of teams with her ability to go inside or to hit the long jumper. She signed early with Delaware.
The junior guard added a new dimension to her game this season -- leadership. A quiet player who prefers to lead by example, Richards accepted a more active role in helping to guide her many younger teammates. At the same time, the repeat first-team selection lost none of her game.
She led the No. 7 Doves (23-4) with 12.9 points, 4.7 assists and 4.5 steals per game. In the Class 3A semifinals, Richards had a triple double -- 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 steals -- in a 60-54 overtime loss to Atholton. She had 18 points and 15 rebounds in a victory over City in the Baltimore City final, and 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Doves avenged a midseason loss to Catonsville in the regional final.
Exceptionally quick, with slippery moves to the hoop, Richards shot 50.9 percent from the field. She already has scored more than 1,000 points.
Sheronne Vails Arundel
An athletic 6-foot-4 shot blocker, Vails' finesse game provides the perfect complement to teammate Simone Egwu's power game. The sophomore averaged 13.5 points and 8.7 points during the regular season, but she averaged 29.5 points and 16.5 rebounds in helping the Wildcats win the Anne Arundel County and regional finals.
Vails stepped up in big games, especially late in the season. She had 20 points and 18 rebounds in a regular-season win over South River in which Egwu suffered a dislocated shoulder. Quick for her size with long arms, Vails blocked 62 shots. She also has good range on her jump shot and can hit the three-pointer.
But she's best on the inside, where she shoots 54.5 percent. Vails led the Wildcats with 30 points and 15 rebounds in the county title win over Old Mill.
B.J. Williams Seton Keough
The Baltimore City Player of the Year led the Gators through a season in which they held the No. 1 ranking all season until the losing to St. Frances at the end.
No one handled the ball better or saw the court better than the 5-foot-7 senior guard. Opposing defenses had to play close attention, because you never knew what she might do. She could whip the no-look pass inside or she could blast off a quick first step and weave through a crowd to the basket. She had terrific moves on the drive, but she could also hit the three-pointer. It was almost impossible to press the No. 2 Gators when she handled the ball.
Seton Keough coach Jackie Boswell said Williams changed the level of play for the Gators. Williams, who is headed to Temple, averaged nine points and six assists. She was also a first-team pick as a sophomore.
Shamika Williams Catonsville
The Baltimore County Player of the Year, Williams led the No. 8 Comets to a 23-3 season and the county championship. She provided the one thing the Comets needed most -- leadership on and off the court. And she had a big game to match.
The 5-foot-8 junior guard excelled at running the offense, driving to the basket and playing defense against the opposition's toughest forward -- big or small. Williams played every minute of every big game, and she led the Comets in scoring (17.3), rebounds (7.3) and assists (4.5).
She always came through on the big stage. Williams had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in a 61-51 upset of Western that boosted the Comets into the Top 15. She also scored 25 in a 51-47 win over Dulaney that sent Catonsville to the county final, and scored 27 in the county title game, a 65-49 win over Randallstown.
Name, School, Class, Pos.
Janay Brinkley, Arch. Spalding, Soph., G
Ashley Davis, Arundel, Jr., G
Airelle Eldridge, Lansdowne, Sr., G
Tyler Hale, Towson Cath., Sr., G
Brittany Lilley, Severna Park, Sr., G
Jordan Neville, Winters Mill, Sr., G
LaShay Taft, City, Soph., G
Taylor Chapman, Atholton, Sr., F
Deanna Dydynski, Mount Hebron, Sr., F
Jess Harlee, Fallston, Soph., F/G
Note: Teams selected by Katherine Dunn after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun