Breaira Barksdale City
Knights coach George Petrides expects his 5-foot-6 senior guard to be a coach someday, because she acted as his coach on the floor this season. In the state final against previously unbeaten River Hill, Barksdale provided the spark and the calming influence that drove No.3 City to a 59-51 overtime victory for the Class3A title and its first state championship. She scored five of the Knights' 12overtime points, and her short jumper with 52seconds left gave them a 53-49 lead. Barksdale, who had 21points and three assists in the title game, also played a key role in the Knights' early-season upset of Seton Keough. She averaged 9.3 points and 4.4 assists, and was tough to stop in combination with backcourt mate LaShay Taft. Barksdale could drive or hit the three-pointer and also looked more for her inside teammates this season. She has made an oral commitment to UNC-Asheville.
Cassie Cooke Winters Mill
After leading the Falcons to their best season ever and the state Class 2A semifinals last season, the 5-foot-8 senior guard continued to show off her exceptional repertoire with a less-experienced team that finished its season in the regional quarterfinals. Cooke, a repeat first-team All-Metro selection, averaged 14 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.2 steals as Winters Mill finished 10-14. Cooke has always been a tough matchup for opponents with her array of inside and outside skills. Quick and intense with terrific court sense, she was always a three-point threat, but she could rebound with much taller players and post them up. She also had a keen eye for her teammates and made crowd-pleasing pinpoint passes. Defensively, she was a pest and forced a lot of turnovers. Cooke, who finished her career with 1,081points, 616 rebounds and 480 assists, has signed with Rhode Island.
Jess Harlee Fallston
The 6-foot junior forward made the state tournament her playground. In leading the No. 4 Cougars to the state Class 3A championship and a 28-0 season, Harlee had 54 points, 37 rebounds and seven assists and went 29-for-34 from the free-throw line in beating Largo and defending champ Paint Branch in the state tournament. She also shot 52 percent from the field. Every time Fallston needed a big play, she came through. In a 65-62 win over Paint Branch in the title game, she finished with 28 points, including 19 in the fourth quarter, when she went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line and hit two clutch free throws with 3.3 seconds left. Exceptionally athletic and highly driven, Harlee set the tone physically and mentally for the state-title run. She could do everything from handle the ball and run the offense to power inside for a rebound and a put-back. She averaged 15.8 points, 14.4 rebounds and five assists.
Shatyra Hawkes St. Frances
A repeat first-team selection, Hawkes drove the No. 2 Panthers with her leadership ability and tenacious defense. An all-around player, the 5-foot-3 junior guard usually guarded the opposition's best player and still managed to play a big role in a balanced offense. Hawkes could shoot from outside but was tough to stop off the dribble. She always kept an eye out for her teammates and could dish off at any point. She averaged 17 points and fiveassists as St. Frances (26-3) went unbeaten through the IAAM AConference regular season before falling to Seton Keough in the tournament final. A pesky on-ball defender, she stood out in a smothering team defense, and her pressure on the ball led to a lot of easy baskets - the Panthers' favorite way to score. She averaged fivesteals. Hawkes will lead St. Frances in the National High School Invitational on April 4-5.
Asia Logan Digital Harbor
A smooth 6-foot-1 point forward, Logan led the co-No. 7 Rams to the first state girls basketball championship in school history, dating all the way through the years when the school was the old Southern High. The junior had 21 points and 13 rebounds and went 15-for-16 from the free-throw line in a 50-41 victory over Surrattsville in the Class 1A state final. Logan proved to be an inside force with her ability to get position and outleap players several inches taller. She averaged 19 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks in leading Digital Harbor to its best record ever (24-3), falling only to Western, City and H.D. Woodson. Logan was also versatile, with good range on her jump shot and good ball-handling skills, so she was able to fill multiple roles and shared the duty of running the offense with point guard Nichelle Groom. Against Western, Logan had 19 points and 15 rebounds in a game in which she scored her 1,000th career point.
Akeema Richards Western
The versatile senior closed out a fine career with four Baltimore City championships and four trips to the state Class 3A tournament. Richards, a 5-foot-8 guard who excelled at driving to the basket, scored 28 points in her final game, a 76-68 loss to Paint Branch in the state semifinals. She led the No. 5 Doves (20-7) with 13.2points a game and also averaged 5.9 rebounds, fourassists and 2.6 steals against a schedule that included six nationally ranked teams. With her athleticism and determination, she could spark her team with a big steal or a nifty move to the hoop. In a comeback win over top rival City, Richards scored 21 points, including 11 in a row in the second half, for a 51-48 win. She also hit a 12-foot jumper that brought the Doves within 63-62 midway through the fourth quarter against Paint Branch. A three-time first-team All-Metro selection, Richards signed early with West Virginia.
Sheronne Vails Arundel
A repeat first-team selection, the 6-foot-5 forward was the co-No.7 Wildcats' primary inside force in some of the biggest games this season when 6-foot-3 teammate Simone Egwu was sidelined with injuries. Vails had one of her best performances with 19 points, eightrebounds and seven blocks in a 65-46 loss to the Washington area's No. 1 team, Riverdale Baptist. She also had 18 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks in a 56-45 loss to No. 2 St. Frances. In Anne Arundel County, where Arundel (22-5) went undefeated and rolled to the county crown, Vails had 15 points and nine rebounds in the 70-36 final over Old Mill. A tough inside player who made 57 steals, she also showed a soft touch on her jump shot. She averaged 11.9 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8blocks and shot 49 percent from the field. A junior, she has narrowed her college final four to Duke, Connecticut, Georgia and Louisville.
Nyree Williams Howard
With her strong inside game, the 6-foot-1 forward led the Lions to the best record in school history, 20-5. Her combination of athleticism and power made her a force on offense, but the Howard County Player of the Year alsoexcelled on the defensive end, often guarding the opposition's best player. Williams, who made three steals a game, proved difficult even for small, quick guards to maneuver past with her long arms and quick feet. Defense has been a focus for Williams, who has said she wants to make the All-Atlantic Coast Conference defensive team when she plays for North Carolina. On the offensive end, Williams was a tough matchup with her size and quickness. She was quick off the dribble and lethal on offensive rebounds, averaging 17.6 points and 14.3rebounds as well as three blocks in leading the Lions to second place in the Howard County league.
Shamika Williams Catonsville
A two-time Baltimore County Player of the Year and repeat first-team selection, Williams was the driving force behind a rebuilding No. 9 Comets team that reached the regional final. "It all started and stopped with Shamika," Catonsville coach Mike Mohler said. "Everything ran through her. Our success was placed in her hands." Williams couldn't have done more. She played nearly every second of the season, going full tilt all the time. She had to do a little bit of everything but excelled at driving to the basket and making powerful moves for a 5-foot-8 guard. She averaged 15.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 3.3 steals. In her four years, the Comets went 87-15, won two county titles and lost only two Baltimore County games. She finished with 1,208 points, 590 rebounds and 425 assists. Williams, who wants to stay close to her family, has signed with UMBC.
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