ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
McKay's all-around game lifts 'Canes to big wins
Published: Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 13, 2014 at 10:08 p.m.
With the graduation of three starters who were instrumental in consecutive regional final berths, Gainesville High girls basketball coach David Gordon knew a lot would be expected of junior Janiah McKay this season.
A starter since her freshman year, McKay has stepped up in a big way for the Hurricanes, scoring a career-high 39 and 38 points in consecutive overtime wins over Fleming Island and Winter Haven at the Rob Moramarco Challenge at Buchholz this past weekend.
The victories improved Gainesville, ranked No. 2 in Class 6A by MaxPreps, to 17-2.
“I lost four players from last year, three starters, and she was able to do some things while they were there,” Gordon said. “She (McKay) is coming on with an all-around type of game on offense and defense. She knows what she has to do and tries to get other players involved. When games get out of hand, she is able to do some things that allow us to be in position to win the game.”
McKay did just that in the 'Canes' latest wins. Down 49-42 to Fleming Island on Friday night, she scored the remaining eight points for GHS, tying the game at 50 with 9.5 left to play. Then in overtime, she scored seven of the team's 12 points for a 62-58 win.
Less than 24 hours later, she did it again against Winter Haven, another quality 6A team that has reached the final four 12 of the last 13 years. McKay forced another OT and scored seven of the team's 11 points in the extra period in a 64-59 win.
“Winter Haven was a lot more aggressive, they played man-to-man defense pretty much the whole game,” Gordon said. “They have some good players. But once again Janiah stepped up her game toward the end.
“It has brought more character to the team. It shows that when we are down, there is no time to quit.”
Gainesville will host rival Buchholz tonight at 7:30.
Shelby Stokes, Trenton: In three games, the sophomore guard had 54 points, 15 rebounds, 14 assists and 11 steals as the Tigers went 2-1 on the week.
Bryan Chalifoux, Buchholz: The junior averaged 20.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.7 blocks, 47 percent on 3-pointers and 89 percent from the free-throw line as Bobcats went 2-1 for the week.
Aaron Thomas, Dixie County: In three games, the sophomore guard scored 71 points with 24 rebounds, 10 assists, hit on seven 3-pointers and was 16-of-20 at the free throw line for the Bears.
Cory Hedding, Keystone Heights: In four wins last week, the junior forward scored eight goals in victories over Palatka, P.K. Yonge, Newberry and Ponte Vedra Nease as the Indians (19-1-1) won their 19th straight match. Hedding kicked in both goals in a impressive 2-1 win at Nease.
Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Monday between 12-4 p.m. at (352) 374-5050 or email nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org