W-S Prep girls end in success

W-S Prep girls end in success
March 26
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee- Prep’s Christina Caesar (12) averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game.)

In every way imaginable, Winston-Salem Prep’s girls owned this year’s Class 1-A state basketball playoffs. The Phoenix pulled it off by imposing its collective will in every facet of play.

Winning by comfortable margins was the normal order of business. Prep’s dominance was put on full display in a 58-31 stomping of Riverside in the state final. Now that the Phoenix has its first state championship tucked away, what’s next?

The good news for Prep followers is that all hands from this year’s title-winning squad are underclassmen. Next season’s team will be comprised mostly of seniors who would like nothing better than to put the finishing touches on their careers by winning back-to-back titles.

For sure, expectations will be off the charts and for good reason. The Phoenix got maximum mileage from a nine-player roster. In spite of losing center Kristain Saunders for the season to injury after 17 games, Winston-Salem Prep relied heavily on a six-player rotation to hammer all challengers in post-season play.

When you stop to consider that the relentless Phoenix won the crown with limited depth, you come to appreciate how special this season turned out to be.

Prep, which finished the season at 24-3, dedicated its efforts to sharing the basketball on offense while consistently shutting down opponents at the defensive end. The Phoenix had seven players who averaged between 7 and 11 points per game. As a team, WSP averaged 13.6 assists, 15.2 steals and four blocked shots for the season.

Coach Eugene Love has a squad which is well-stocked with interchangeable parts. The most versatile of the group is Dominique Claytor, a multi-dimensional type who was voted MVP of the state-championship game.

Claytor’s stat line (9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.4 steals per game) is a credible indicator of her value. But, it doesn’t tell the entire story. Depending on floor match-ups, Claytor can play all five positions and her on-court presence serves as a calming influence. Defensively, she has few peers who can effectively defend at several positions as well as she does.

Swing players Christina Caesar (8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals) and Kayla Robinson (8.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals) are versatile in their roles, especially on defense.

In the paint, Chrisalyn Boston (7.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 2 steals) emerged as a major factor. With a healthy Saunders (8.1 points, 5.1 rebounds) coming back, Prep’s front line will be more dominant.

The backcourt is formidable with Jada Craig (10.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 3.2 steals) and Mychala Wolfe (10.3 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.4 steals). Both are exceptional passers who shoot well from the outside and can generate their own offense off the dribble.

The future looks promising for Winston-Salem Prep to complete another successful state-championship run. Even so, untimely injuries and/or complacency could conspire to crush those title dreams. When next season arrives, nobody knows how the Phoenix will handle being the defending state champs that every team wants to beat.

It’s one thing to cast oneself in the role of being the hunter. It’s quite another to be the team with the bulls eye on its back.

Will the urgency and passion still be there?

Will this team remain hungry?

We’ll see.

About Author

Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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