Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 21, 2009

BASKETBALL|Warren Central star Caples makes history with fourth top-player honor

It’s not a surprise.

At least it wasn’t to Warren Central girls basketball coach Donny Fuller. He predicted as much when forward Sha’Kayla Caples laced them up for the first time as one of the Lady Vikes.

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Caples made it four years in a row as The Vicksburg Post Girls Player of the Year.

Last year, she joined Cookie Johnson (2003-05) and Tangie Cooper (1993-1995) as the only Warren County basketball players to win the award three times. Not concidentally, all three played for Fuller at Warren Central.

“When you realize how many great players we’ve had in this county and she’s the only one to accomplish that honor is something,” Fuller said. “I predicted that before she even played her first ball game. You could see the talent.”

Now’s she in a club of her own.

“It feels really good,” Caples said. “I feel good about the way I played this year.”

While the Lady Vikes fell short of their ultimate goal of a state title, Caples’ final season in red, white and blue was one of the best ever enjoyed by a Warren County player.

She averaged 24.7 points per contest, pulled down 11.7 rebounds, ripped away two steals and blocked two shots a game. She hit a blazing 55 percent of her shots from the field and swished 73 percent of her attempts from the free-throw line. Seven times she scored 30 or more points in a contest, including a season-high 38 against Vicksburg.

“She had an unbelievable senior year,” Fuller said. “I figured up the other day that she had 20-something double-doubles her senior year. She was our go-to player and everybody knew it.”

What made those numbers even more startling was that Caples was no surprise. After starting for four years alongside point guard Karnina Bunch, every coach in the state knew of her talent and game-planned accordingly.

Constantly, the 5-foot-11 forward had to ward off double, sometimes triple-teams to get her shot off.

“She had people running two and three people at her just to stop her,” Fuller said. “She’s an unbelievable talent.”

The Louisiana Tech signee has an enviable skillset already built for the college game. While she plays the power forward position, Caples worked hard before the season to work on her ballhandling and she will transition to the wing in college.

With Caples, defenders are forced to pick their poison.

Sink off her and she can make her smooth jumpshot with ease. While she didn’t take many attempts from 3-point range (she was 0-for-4 on the season), anything inside the arc is fair game.

If opponents play her tight on the perimeter, her long stride, quickness, length and finishing ability around the rim make her able to create shots for herself or other players.

Caples’ athletic prowess runs in her family. Her second cousin, former Warren Central running back Carl Blue, is Warren County’s second all-time leading rusher with 4,196 yards and 45 touchdowns.


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