O’Neal claims third player of the year award; all-conference selections announced

Published 4:44 pm Monday, March 13, 2023

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The post-season accolades continue to roll in for Southside senior Ka’Nyah O’Neal.

The Coastal Plains Conference coaches chose her as the league’s player of the year for the third straight season after she averaged 29.3 points, 12.1 rebounds and five steals per game for the 25-7 Seahawks.

O’Neal finished her career as one of 13 girls in North Carolina high school basketball history to have over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds and stands 18th among the state’s all-time leading scorers with 2,426 points and 28th among the top rebounders with 1,079.

Her season also included a school record 56 point outburst at Northside in January.

“She’s been a joy to coach and it’s been a pleasure to see her grow and mature these past four seasons,” coach Milton Ruffin said. “She was our captain and my coach on the floor. She knew when to take over a game and always tried to get her teammates involved. She made my job a lot easier”

Seahawks junior De’Najah Warren and sophomores Lily McLean and I’Kiriyah Minor also made All-Conference.

“Lily was a great addition after not playing last year, I’Kiriyah gave up some offense to guard the other team’s best player and De’Najah improved her game in all areas,” Ruffin said. “All of them played a huge role in us getting to the fourth round of the state tournament.”

Mariah Jones and Olivia Jane (OJ) Cahoon represented Northside on the girls all-conference team, as the Panthers finished 18-7 for third place in the conference.

“Mariah and O.J earned their recognition by working hard on the court,” coach Michelle Leathers said.  “Mariah scored and took on the responsibility of playing wherever she was needed whether it was running the point or posting up. She was our scoring leader at over 20 points a game. OJ was able to deliver the ball to the post, the wing or the forward and also score, get steals and rebounds. They also played with great respect and love for the game.”

On the boys side, the Panthers and Seahawks had two selections each.

Senior Manvonte Deloach and junior Tequan (Tater) Moore represented Southside, while juniors Griffin Johnson and Tate Gibbs were chosen from Northside.

“Tate was a true post who played with his back to the basket for us,” coach Jared Adams said. “He had good moves inside and was also a good ball handler. Griffin was a strong rebounder and defender and came up with a huge steal that helped us beat Lejeune.”