Mariah Linney Leads Goose Creek To State Girl’s Title & Claims HSSR Miss Basketball Honors While Rhetta Moore & Paul Runey Team Up To Help Bishop England Win Fourth Straight Basketball Championship
By Billy G. Baker
Columbia—It was an exciting 2016-17 girls’ basketball season in South Carolina and two of the more dominating stories centered around the Bishop England girls of Paul Runey winning their 4th straight title on a shot at the buzzer and the Goose Creek girl’s going the entire season ranked number one as the state’s first ever AAAAA champion led by 2016-17 HSSR-Miss Basketball Mariah Linney.
Linney, who has signed with UNC-Charlotte, recently completed her four year varsity career at Goose Creek with 1,401 career points, 470 steals, and 496 assists making her a total and complete combo-guard, a true coach’s dream on the hardwood. She graced the court much like a gazelle on the Serengeti Plain of photo safari lore.
“Mariah has a great skill set and getting the college coaches to believe in her was a challenge until last summer in a high profile AAU event in Atlanta where she poured in 46 points against one of the elite teams from Georgia and numerus college coaches at that game suddenly starting showing great interest in her,” said Coach Baldwin. “She knows where ever player is supposed to be at all times and she can play point or shooting guard like you are supposed to play the positions. She is very unselfish and she makes the players around her better. We are going to miss her next year I can tell you that.”
For Linney, she fulfilled just about all of her goals but one as a high school player. “Winning the state championship was huge to me because we had come close on several occasions earlier,” said Linney. “I wanted to be a McDonald’s All-American and that didn’t work out but I was an honorable mention after my freshman year.
“I enjoy handling our offense and going at our own pace and I can play the point, shooting guard and I evened played some three during the season,” she said. “I feel the core characteristics of a good player is hustling at all times, having a good attitude, and playing good defense.”
Rhetta Moore is the 2016-17 HSSR Statewide Girl’s Player of the Year after helping the Lady Bishops win their fourth straight state title in basketball and she was also a key player on two of BE’s volleyball state titles. Moore recently signed with the University of North Florida.
She will be majoring in business and will get a chance at early playing time, plus the beach is near-by. “It was the right fit for me athletically and academically,” said Moore.
As a senior Moore averaged 18 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists a game helping her team to their 5th state title in six years. During her three years as a starter the Bishops were 73-9.
“Rhetta leads by example and through her actions,” said Coach Runey earlier this season. “She knows only one speed and she does everything flat-out. Her court-sense is off the charts and I would hate to think where we would be right now without her.”
Moore finished her prep career number three on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,330 points. She also ranks second in the area of steals and assists all-time in the Bishop England program.
Other heralded Girl’s superlatives being honored include AAAAA Girl’s Player of the Year Goose Creek sophomore Shayla Nelson who celebrated her 16th birthday in the state finals with a team leading 22 points and 13 rebounds over Wade Hampton (G). North Carolina signee Dreher forward/center Jaelynn Murray averaged 23.3 points and 10,8 rebounds a game for team this season and she will share Co-AAA Player of the Year honors with Nigeria Davis of Newberry who averaged 15 points a game for the Bulldogs.
In Class AA the Player of the Year is six year playing veteran Brittani McDonald of Mullins who helped lead her team to a state title over Christ Church by scoring 16 points, seven assists and three steals. “This (championship) moment means a lot to me and it has been six years since my 7th grade year so I have been waiting a long time,” said McDonald after the state championship game.
The SCHSL-HSSR Class A Player of the Year came off the losing team in the finals. Talented Green Sea-Floyds junior guard Tamera Jackson led her team when she poured in 31 points Jackson came into the game averaging 18.8 points a game.
In the SCISA ranks the top superlatives was HSSR-SCISA Miss basketball Jaileah Melvin of Northwood Academy who scored 10 points and 5.6 assists along with three steals a game in helping lead the Chargers to a state crown. Her teammate junior Elysa Wesolek was tabbed the HSSR-SCISA AAA Player of the Year after averaging 13 points and 7.6 rebounds a game.
The HSSR-SCISA AA Player of the Year is Bree Stoddard of Thomas Sumter who led her team to the state title with a team high 12 points over Calhoun Academy. In Class A talented senior Julia Smoak poured in 23 points to lead the Raiders to the state title over Laurens Academy. Smoak will be attending Clemson in the fall. “She’s an amazing player and an amazing kid,” said DA coach Callie McClure after the game. “She has been our leader on the court, before the games with her story time, and leading them in practice. She is our senior leader and she does a great job at it.”
With over 660 career wins BE’s Runey is easily the HSSR-SCHSL Statewide Coach of the Year. “When we went up three I thought I thought we had it and they came back to go ahead by one. This was a sweet win to come back and win on a buzzer beater. I am just happy for my players and they worked hard all year.”
The AAAAA Girl’s Coach of the Year is Tim Baldwin of Goose Creek followed by AAAA Coach of the year Crystal Cummings of North Augusta who coached the only undefeated team in the state at 28-0. “This was like a dream perfect season and not many coaches get to experience a season like ours,” said Coach Cummings after the game. “I have a great group of girls to work with and they come to practice every day ready to work and get better.”
The Class AAA HSSR-SCHSL Coach of the Year is Melissa Mendenhall of Newberry followed by AA Coach of the Year Myron Gerald of Mullins and Class A Coach of the Year Marcus Livingston.
In the HSSR-SCISA coaching ranks former HSSR Player of the Year Callie McClure earned Statewide SCISA Coaching honors from Dorchester Academy after transferring her playing talent into coaching talent in her rookie season. Veteran coach BJ Reed of Thomas Sumter is the HSSR-SCISA AA Coach of the Year and Jason Marlot is the Class A SCISA Coach of the Year from Laurens Academy.