Darcie Moore came to Magnolia West last summer as the new head coach after a nice run with Goose Creek Memorial.

Not all coaches get the opportunity to inherit a supreme talent when they take over a new program, but Moore had just that in 6-foot senior post Kamryn Jones.

Jones capped a tremendous career with the Mustangs as she helped lead the team to the regional quarterfinals for the third straight season.

For her ability to lead, her talent and her astounding season of 19.2 points and 12 rebounds per game, the University of Houston signee is The Courier’s Player of the Year for 2020.

“You don’t run into a lot of Kamryn Joneses,” Moore said. “I was pretty blessed to have her and the type of kid she is. The girl is just a genuine young lady. She cares about people; she cares about her team. She’s an all-around student-athlete. She’s super smart, and her work ethic is unbelievable. She’s every coach’s dream and I’m very fortunate to coach her this one year that I’ve had her.”

Jones comes from a strong athletic background. Her oldest brother, Xavier, played football at Baylor, and her other brother, Myles, is currently on the team at Texas A&M. Kamryn came to the varsity team at Magnolia West as a sophomore and solidified herself over the years.

“She just burst out with a heck of a season,” Moore said. “She works so hard, and she’s working when she’s not in the gym.”

Moore talked to Jones about improving in the post this season. She felt that Jones could be one of the best rebounders in the state. As a junior, Jones averaged 5.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. She doubled her rebounds per game for her senior year and averaged 1.5 blocks.

“She was averaging 12 rebounds per game, and I think in district she was averaging 15 or so a game,” Moore said. “That alone elevated her game.”

Jones shot 57 percent from the floor and nearly doubled her 10.4 points per game as a junior.

Jones had a shining moment right after the calendar flipped to 2020. On Jan. 3, she scored a single-game school-record 42 points.

“That was fun to watch,” Moore said. “We were playing Brenham, and it was a district ball game. I remember she started out just guns blazing with points and rebounds. I looked at my coaching staff and asked where she was at (points-wise). They said she was around 20-something (points), and I thought, ‘She’s going to get it tonight.’”

During a timeout, Moore encouraged Jones to go for the record.

“Just the look in her eyes — she wanted it, and she went out and did it,” Moore said. “She was so elated, and we were all so proud of her.”

Jones is the second Magnolia West basketball player to be named All-County Player of the Year after Hannah Eggleston won the superlative two years ago.

OFFENSIVE MVP: Mersadez Nephew, Sr., Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge coach Deidre Vasquez described herself as a shooter during her playing days. So with that mind, she knows just how special of a season Mersadez Nephew had for the District 15-6A champions.

Nephew shot 45 percent from the floor and averaged 17.8 points per game. Vasquez recalled stretches of games where the senior wouldn’t miss.

“That’s just not easy to do — to knock down 3s,” Vasquez said. “That’s just not easy to do.”

Nephew spent her entire junior year on Oak Ridge’s junior varsity team after transferring from Willis around Thanksgiving. Her paperwork cleared in time to join varsity later that year, but Vasquez felt there wasn’t a perfect fit for her in the rotation.

“That probably made her really determined and hungry for this season,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez was proud of the way Nephew kept working and proving herself upon coming to varsity this year.

“She put in the time with her summer ball and just on her own, getting to the gym shooting so that this year she could make the most of it,” Vasquez said.

The Lady War Eagles accepted Nephew with open arms, and everything worked out.

“I was kind of unsure of how the chemistry would be with her being new to the program,” Vasquez said. “Kudos to our girls. They took her in, and that doesn’t always happen. She came every day and worked hard, and everybody saw that.”

Nephew got out to a hot start this season and never slowed down. She continued an incredible pace throughout the season, despite the fact she fractured a finger during district play.

“She started the season on fire as far as scoring,” Vasquez said. “(The other players) knew if they got her the ball, they were getting an assist out of it. It was a win-win, and there were times that she could put up points really fast.”

Nephew was also a strong defender, spending most games covering the other team’s biggest scoring threat.

Nephew is still weighing some options when it comes to playing at the next level. She has been in contact with several junior colleges across the country.

“I’m just excited to see what she does at the next level,” Vasquez said. “I think she has a true gift and an extra gear. She’s not just a good offensive player, but we would many times put her on the other team’s best player, and she would contain them and shut them down.”

DEFENSIVE MVP: Nikki Petrakovitz, Jr., Oak Ridge

Nikki Petrakovitz, a point guard, was a disruptive force on defense for the district champion Lady War Eagles.

Combining that aspect of her game with her offensive totals impressed the coaches in District 15-6A enough vote her the league’s Most Valuable Player.

Petrakovitz hustled and used her athleticism every night she stepped on the floor.

“She just gets so many steals defensively, and she rebounds,” Vasquez said. “She creates havoc for other guards just because she can jump and cover so much distance. She’s not a big girl, but she can cover some space, and she just has springs in her shoes, and can get her hands on a lot of balls and affect a lot of teams with just that.”

Petrakovitz gathered 3.9 steals per game and accumulated those in many different ways. At 5-foot-8, she used her long arms to redirect or take away the ball from the opposition.

“She can read from across the floor, and she can tell where somebody is passing the ball,” Vasquez explained. “A lot of times she just reads the pass and intercepts it that way. She can pick the pocket of the dribbler. She just gets a tip on the ball and creates a steal for another teammate. There were many times that happened, that she disrupted the play of the other team’s offense and somebody else got credit for the steal.”

She also had a great year offensively and was clutch for the Lady War Eagles as she averaged 14.9 points per game and shot 43 percent from the floor.

“I think about some of the games in crunch time, and she knocks down key 3-pointers or shots or drove in the lane,” Vasquez said. “That’s the good thing about Nikki is she can score multiple ways.”

The junior started the season injured, and like her teammate, Nephew, played with an injured finger during district play. It was never X-rayed, but Vasquez thought it was likely broken.

“All season, she was hurt some,” Vasquez said. “She missed a lot of our offseason workouts. She couldn’t start the first couple games of the season. But when she gets into the game, instantly things are going to happen.”

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Kaitlyn Stewart, Jr., Grand Oaks

As Grand Oaks began as a program last year playing a sub-varsity schedule, head coach Shiakeia Carter felt like she had a contributor on defense in then-sophomore Kaitlyn Stewart.

“Coming in as coaches, you sit back, look, evaluate and talk,” Carter said. “Initially, it seemed like she would be the best defensive player that we have as far her being able to pretty much guard anybody.”

As the program’s first varsity season got underway this year, Stewart showed her skills on the offensive end as well.

“She grew throughout the season with the other players,” Carter said. “It was just good to be able to rely on Kaitlyn, as well as other kids, night after night to come in and do some things and score some points and make the game exciting for us.”

Carter said Stewart brought some excitement to the season, which concluded with a 12-18 record and a 7-11 mark in District 20-5A.

“With this being our first district season and one season that really matters and counts, it really was good and exciting to have a standout player,” Carter said.

Stewart averaged 15 points, four rebounds and three assists per game. She was also named the District 20-5A Newcomer of the Year.

“As the season went on, we realized that she could score the ball for us,” Carter said. “It just made it so we could put her in situations for her to maximize her capabilities and her potential. It ended up working out for us.”

A couple games stood out to Carter when it came to Stewart.

First was a 54-45 win over Lake Creek on Jan. 17.

“That game was a really, really exciting game,” Carter said. “Once again, we were down and had to come back. Along with everyone else, (Stewart) sparked that run. She electrified it on the inside. We had a massive third quarter where we scored 21 points. She had 14 of those points.”

Stewart finished with a game-high 22 points that night.

Second was a 43-41 loss to playoff team Kingwood Park on Jan. 24.

“When we needed a basket, she was able to do that for us,” Carter said. “We still ended up losing. But I think that game we had the volleyball girls (in the crowd), and the gym was electrified.”

COACH OF THE YEAR: Tricia Mize, New Caney

The final stretch of the season for New Caney was in some ways very therapeutic and a nice distraction for Tricia Mize.

The Lady Eagles were able to clinch the second playoff spot out of District 20-5A and were winning plenty of games. New Caney secured its first bi-district playoff victory since 2005 by defeating A&M Consolidated. The year came to an end in the area round against Cedar Park, and the team finished with a 27-8 overall record.

Over the final six weeks of the season, Mize was dealing with her health. Unbeknownst to her players, Mize was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in mid-January. During the week of their two playoff games, she was juggling doctor’s appointments.

Mize enjoyed the run to the playoffs, especially since that was a major goal.

“We set our goals high,” Mize said. “We missed the playoffs last year, and we sat down as a program — not just the varsity team — and we discussed what our goals were. Obviously, the older kids, they wanted district champs or the playoffs at least. We talked about what it would take to get there, and every day after practice, we talked about if we practiced like a champion. Did we compete like that to ensure that we would reach our goal?”

New Caney was led by the “Big Three” of senior Abigail Lynch and juniors Tori Garza and Micha Mize. All three averaged double-figures scoring and are first-team All-Montgomery County selections. The Lady Eagles lacked depth, though, and competed with an eight-player roster most of the year. That made players like junior Mickayla Leftridge important, too.

“It was tough,” Mize said. “Obviously those three played almost every minute of every game,” Mize said. “Mickayla Leftridge — she was a difference maker for us. She has no fear, and she goes out and she doesn’t think and just plays.”

A big turning point for the team happened just after Christmas. New Caney beat a Conroe team it lost against to begin the season to cap the Dekaney Tournament.

“That Dekaney Tournament as huge for us,” Mize said. “I think it was a big eye-opener for the things they realized they could do. They actually started believing in themselves. My big thing is believe, commit, achieve. If you don’t believe it, you’re not going to achieve it. And you’re definitely not going to commit to it. We talked about those three things. That tournament right there, they were finally like, ‘We might be good.’”

The tournament sparked an 11-game winning streak, and the Lady Eagles avenged an earlier loss to district champion Huntsville in the process. New Caney had lost to the Lady Hornets 44-41 on the road on Dec. 6.

“We knew when we played Huntsville at their place and they beat us by three, the kids were hungry,” Mize said. “They were ready for that rematch the next day.”

The Lady Eagles waited more than a month for the rematch and took care of business with a 51-43 victory at home on Jan. 17.

“It was just a phenomenal season and a phenomenal group of kids to work with,” Mize said.

rtate@hcnonline.com

Original Article from: https://www.yourconroenews.com/neighborhood/moco/sports/article/GIRLS-HOOPS-Magnolia-West-senior-Kamryn-Jones-is-15163802.php