Some players bring more to the court than just scoring
Column by staff writer Zack Huffman

As you can see, after much deliberation, we have chosen our All-Southern Crescent basketball teams. For the most, numbers led the way when it came to deciding between candidates.

But what about the many talented players who day in and day out served crucial roles within their clubs without racking up huge scoring or rebounding percentages?

There is no doubt that scoring is major part of every successful basketball game, but there are a plethora of other factors that often get overlooked due to the difficulty in quantifying them, specifically, the extent to which a player can intimidate their opponent to the point where it negatively affects his or her game.

In order to help rectify this matter, I am presenting my All-Southern Crescent Coed All-Intimidation Team.

Before I begin my list, I think it is important to mention that I have decided to include both males and females on this roster. I joined the staff at the Clayton News-Daily and the Henry Daily Herald in the latter half of the basketball season, meaning there were many games I was unable to see.

This list represents what I witnessed within my limited time at this paper and in no way reflects the level of intensity that any players who are not listed may have displayed on the floor.

Melissa Perdue is an easy first addition to the team. As a member of Henry County's Final Four team, Perdue spent a lot of time putting the fear into the Ladyhawks' opponents.

As I wrote in an article last week, not only was Perdue not squeamish about dishing out punishment, she also had a tendency to willingly take it.

That's what makes her intimidating. Sure, she may have bloodied the nose of one of Model's players, but it was the damage she shrugged off that made it clear she was not someone you would want to have to go ten rounds against.

Through the course of the game, she blew out her knee, twisted her ankle, took an elbow to the forehead and was repeatedly knocked to the ground by over-zealous scoring attempts. Despite this, she still managed to play almost all 32 minutes of the game.

Brandon King of Stockbridge never really received the amount of playing time many of his fellow Tigers enjoyed. His intimidation usually began with the pre-game lay-up drills. Whenever the 6-foot-5 monster of a player got his hands on the ball, he routinely slapped his hands around it, letting out a thunderous clap, alerting all in attendance that King could very easily crush anyone's head. The fact that nobody was ever carried out of Stockbridge High School with severe head trauma is a testament to King's capacity for mercy.

Paige Nowacki came into the basketball season having already earned a college scholarship for her softball talents. Without the need to prove herself on the hardwood, she set out to serve her fellow Lady Mustangs from Ola. She was not easy to miss. Nowacki was the imposing 5-foot-9 girl with her hair braided into cornrows.

Regardless of the amount of baskets she scored, she had no problem getting physical in order to fire up her team.

According to my fellow sports writer Brian Paglia, while Jonesboro's boys team had no shortage of intimidation, Antonio Gardner definitely stood out among the pack. Along with ensuring there was no shortge of trash talk, Gardner had no problem stepping up to an opposing player, leaving himself open for a shot. It was those sorts of mindgames that likely helped propel the Cardinals into the second round of the state tournament.

After playing a role in what I'll just call an "unfortunate incident" earlier in the season, Kathleen Sengsevath was among three Forest Park Lady Panthers who were made to sit out a few games. In her first game back, against Stockbridge, she brought her steel-eyed stare back to the court with a new reputation in tow. All it took was one look into her eyes and you knew that she was probably the last person you wanted to anger. Her ball handling took care of the rest of that victory against Stockbridge.

Every good team needs a coach and I can think of no coach better suited than Jonesboro's Dan Maehlman to head up the All-Intimidation team. When off the court, Maehlman, who stands at about "6-foot-one-hundred", is one of the kindest and most dedicated coaches I've met. On the court, or rather on the sideline, his fire is the sort that could easily cause an NBA star to wet themselves.

So that's my team. I feel it is important for me to clarify that this list is not comprehensive. I'm sure there are many other intimidating athletes that I have unfortunately overlooked, so I apologize for that. Also, this list is also in no way serious. Inclusion on the list in no way reflects that talents, attitudes and classroom efforts of the referenced athletes. So please don't hurt me, I'm pretty sure all five of these athletes would be capable of doing so.