Player of the Year: Kalika France
Of all the accolades Star/Gazette Girls’ Basketball Player of the Year Kalika France hasreceived, McNamara High coach MikeBozeman went one better.
‘‘She’s just flat-out the best and most athletic player I’ve coached,” said Bozeman. ‘‘Her intensity level is undeniable.”
The 5-foot-10 guard/forward was the heart and soul of the county’s premier squad. France averaged 11.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and four steals, leading McNamara to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships. The Forestville school went an area-best 32-5, losing four games by a total of how many to three of the nation’s top 10 teams — No. 1 Canyon (Tex.), No. 2 Lynwood (Calif.) and No. 6 Oregon City (Ore.).
France had a season-high 23 points against St. John’s (D.C.), which McNamara dethroned as WCAC tourney champs.
The Mustangs, ranked No. 19 nationally by USA Today, finished the campaign with a rout of H.D. Woodson (D.C.) in the City Title game at George Washington University and won the Bishop Walsh Invitational in Western Maryland.
A preseason Super 25 pick by USA Today and a third-team All-American by Street & Smith, France participated in the Olympic Festival Games in Colorado last spring.
Recently named to Parade Magazine’s All-American team, France is headed to the University of Maryland where she will join McNamara alum Crystal Washington and last year’s Star/Gazette first-teamer Charmaine Carr (Gwynn Park).
Coach of the Year: Marvin Vann
After graduating seven seniors from the 2002 3A state championship team, Gwynn Park girls’ basketball coach Marvin Vann could have been commended for simply winning the region title.
But with a squad that consisted almost exclusively of underclassmen, Vann molded the Yellow Jackets into a state champion team for the second consecutive season. Vann earned the Star/Gazette girls’ Coach of the Year for the first time in his career and next season he will have four starters returning to make another run at the state crown.
The Yellow Jackets closed the season with a 46-39 victory against Milford Mill in the Class 3A state championship game March 15.
Carly Silver, Pallotti, Sr. — Playing with an injured knee, Silver nearly guided the Laurel private school to a championship. The 5-foot-7 guard averaged 19.2 points, 8.1 assists and 5.2 rebounds for the Panthers (14-10), who reached the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference semifinals. Silver, who played with a knee brace to protect a torn ACL, scored a season-high 27 points against Catholic in her first game back after several weeks of rehabilitation. Silver helped the Panthers to second in the IAAM B Conference regular season standings.
Alisha Battle, Fairmont Heights, Sr. During the Hornets up-and-down campaign, Battle was often a one-woman gang. Battle averaged 25 points per game and put together a stellar year despite the departure of two coaches by the midpoint of the year. She scored 20 or more points in 19 of 23 games. The senior also averaged 7 rebounds, 6 steals and 5 assists. Said coach William Hughes, ‘‘I still think she’s underrated. Once she gets to the college level, regardless of where’s she’s at, I think she going to be in the top five of every statistical category on her team.”
Denesha Kenion, Oxon Hill, Jr. — One of the quickest players in the county, Kenion led the Clippers to their second straight state tournament appearance. The junior guard averaged 15 points, 6 assists, 5 steals and 5 rebounds a game for coach Debra Anderson. She has already received interest from more than two dozen Division I colleges and will likely be a force again next winter. Blessed with good range, Kenion surpassed the 1,000-point plateau in career scoring in the Clippers’ 56-38 victory over Suitland on Feb. 12.
Yolanda Lavender, Forestville, So. The youngest member of this year’s All-Gazette team, Lavender played beyond her years. The sophomore scored 20.2 points per game this season. Said coach Michael McDuffie, ‘‘She’s proven that she’s a dynamic scorer, the only thing I need from her is to up her game so she could show a lot more colleges that she can play on that level.” Lavender had a game-high 16 points in her team’s second round playoff loss to Dunbar (Balt.).
Valicia Brown, Suitland, Sr. — Truly the heart and soul of the Rams, Brown carried the team throughout the season in all-around play. Brown led the Rams to the 4A South Region finals for the third consecutive year and led the team in scoring with 18 points per game. When teammates Raeshawn Mobley and Latoya Butler went down with injuries early in the year, Brown put the team on her back. She was also pivotal on the boards, leading the team with nine rebounds per game to go along with five assists.
Jennifer Martin, DuVal, Jr. — With Sherika Thomas sidelined because of a summer car accident, Martin stepped forward to be the primary inside presence for the Tigers. Martin averaged 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots for coach Walter Clark. She continued her solid play inside through the region tournament and into the state finals, where the Tigers eventually fell to Walkersville.
Wanisha Smith, Riverdale Baptist, Jr. — After transferring from Ohio where she had already received plenty of accolades for her playing ability, Smith continued to display her skills at the Upper Marlboro school. Smith was very instrumental in leading the Crusaders to a 30-6 mark and a National Christian Schools’ Championship in Erie, Pa.
Markeya Watson, Gwynn Park, Jr. — When it comes to determination among post players, few in the county match Watson’s intensity. A key component in the Yellow Jackets’ march to a second straight state 3A title, Watson averaged 12.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Her willingness and determination on the floor often proved to be more important than her statistical accomplishments.
Antelia Parrish, McNamara, Jr. — Another key component in McNamara’s impressive arsenal, Parrish averaged 11.1 points and a team-high 6.7 rebounds for the WCAC regular-season and tournament champions. The 6-foot forward had 20 points in the Mustangs’ Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tourney-title win over St. John’s (D.C.). Arguably the most versatile performer on McNamara’s talent-laden roster, Parrish has been invited to the Nike All-American camp this summer.
Moni Akintunde, Laurel; Kristen Boone, Gwynn Park; Nikki Bozeman, McNamara; Kemena Brooks, Gwynn Park; Latoya Butler, Suitland; Charlisa Cummings, Northwestern; Iman McFarland, McNamara, Raeshawn Mobley, Suitland; Genet Moore, McNamara; Kairsten Nunn, Roosevelt; Erica Pollock, Riverdale Baptist; Ebony Tolliver, Seton; Kellie Tyler, Douglass; Melissa Washington, Largo; Chauntise Wright, McNamara