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Clayton County Girls Player of the Year

Kayla Potts, Forest Park

Photo by Jason Mussell
Kayla Potts recovered from a knee injury to help lead Forest Park to a region championship and a Class AAAAA tournament semifinals appearance.

Photo by Jason Mussell Kayla Potts recovered from a knee injury to help lead Forest Park to a region championship and a Class AAAAA tournament semifinals appearance.

On Potts

Vitals: Potts missed the first 14 games of the season as she continued to recover from a season-ending knee injury during the 2011-12 campaign. She still averaged 12.9 points, four steals and three assists per game. She almost singlehandedly willed Forest Park into the Class AAAAA state championship game, scoring 19 points in a 43-41 loss to eventual state champion Southwest DeKalb.

All-County Team

VICTORIA FLORENCE

School: Jonesboro

Grade: Senior

Position: Guard

Highlights: The point guard averaged 11.6 points per game and 3.2 assists to help the Lady Cardinals to their second straight Region 4-AAAA title. She also averaged three steals per game.

RHEIN BEAMON

School: Morrow

Grade: Sophomore

Position: Guard

Highlights: Scored 235 points to average 9.4 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Was named to the first-team all-region team in Region 2-AAAAAA.

BRIANA BENSON

School: Jonesboro

Grade: Senior

Position: Guard

Highlights: Averaged 10.3 points and 5.6 rebounds to help the team reached the Class AAAA semifinals for the second straight season. She also averaged 3.8 steals per game.

LAKIA SIMS

School: Drew

Grade: Junior

Position: Forward

Highlights: The first-team all-region player averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds. She was in the running for Region 4-AAAAA Player of the Year honors.

BREASIA MCELRATH

School: Forest Park

Grade: Sophomore

Position: Forward

Highlights: Gave the Lady Panthers a strong inside presence as she averaged 6.8 rebounds per game. She also averaged 6.3 points to help the team to a region championship.

HONORABLE MENTION

Moneshia Dyer, Mundy’s Mill, Sr.; Kimberly Dawkins, Jonesboro, Sr.; DeAnna Turner, Riverdale, Sr.; Tiffany Wilson, Forest Park, Jr.; Alenjandra Anderson, North Clayton, Sr.; Jada Hargrove, Drew, Fr.; Ditara Pack, Morrow, Sr.

GIRLS COACH OF THE YEAR

LAMAR HARRIS

The first-year coach led the Jonesboro to their second straight Class AAAA playoff semifinals appearance. Jonesboro compiled a 26-3 record and clinched the Region 4-AAAA championship for a second straight season.

Why Potts: Because the Lady Panthers were 17-1 with Potts in the lineup and 8-7 when she wasn’t. Arguably no player meant more to her team than the 5-foot-9 junior. After losing much of the 2011-12 quarterfinals squad to injury and then graduation, some weren’t expecting this season’s Forest Park squad to duplicate previous success. And they probably wouldn’t have if not for Potts’ return. Starting with a 57-9 defeat of Ola on Jan. 8 — Potts’ first game back — the Panthers wouldn’t lose again until the state semifinals.

Others considered: Victoria Florence and Briana Benson, both of Jonesboro.

Coach Steven Cole on Potts: “Kayla’s been a really good player for us this year. She came back in January and gave us a really big boost and we just took off. She’s another one of those once in a life time players. She loves to play and loves the game and that makes it easy to coach her. She greatly improved our odds of making it as far as we did.”

Q & A

Question: What was the highlight for you this season?

Answer: “I would just say coming back from an injury was one of the greatest things I thought I was capable of doing. It all had to do with having confidence within myself and in my knee. It took about a good six to eight months to get all the way back in shape to the point where I could help team get as far as we did.

Q: How did you improve this season?

A: “From my previous season to this past season I’ve improved a lot. I’ve worked on my weaknesses. I’ve worked on being more confident and being a leader on the team, knowing that I’m one of the veterans. I feel I’ve gotten better at taking people one-on-one and finishing on the inside, as well as knocking down free throws — crucial ones — and just leading my team.”

Q: What was your biggest challenge?

A: “I think even though I had confidence within myself, coming back from an injury is very hard. There are times when you feel like you can’t do something, even though your brain is telling you to. It was just hard. Working hard and doing the extra needed to get it to where it needs to be is probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with.”