Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 11, 2010

All-County Basketball|Mayfield evolves into big-time rebounder and scorer

Vicksburg girls basketball coach Barbara Hartzog preaches the same message over and over and over again to her charges.

Rebounding wins games. It’s one thing the Missy Gators hear a lot from their coach.

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If you rebound for Hartzog, you are guaranteed playing time. Don’t and find yourself riding the pine.

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Before this season, Hartzog met with rising junior Donyeah Mayfield in her office, and Hartzog stressed to her that she had to improve her rebounding in order for the Missy Gators to have a great season, even though Mayfield averaged nine points and 10 rebounds per game the season before.

Mayfield listened and then some.

The junior forward recorded a double-double in 20 of 25 games, posting averages of 15.7 points per game and 14.7 rebounds per to earn The Vicksburg Post girls player of the year award.

“The toughest thing about rebounding is not getting the rebound and having to explain it to your coach,” Mayfield said with a grin. “Our coach pushed me to be the best I can be. I get most of the rebounds I get because of my coach.”

Mayfield’s performance just parlays into Hartzog’s vision of winning basketball and her star player bought into the concept with an all-in attitude.

“I’ve always said that rebounding and defense wins championships. Offense just sells tickets,” Hartzog said. “Rebounding is not something that requires talent, but effort. When she rebounds, we do well.

“Anybody can score, but it takes a real ball player to rebound, defend and clear it out.”

But Mayfield isn’t satisified with the improvement she made this season. As a 5-foot-10 forward, she will have to move from her traditional power forward spot to the wing or even the backcourt at the next level. To prepare, she’s working hard in the offseason on her shooting, which she now has range out to the 3-point line already, and her ball-handling. Already colleges are looking at Mayfield, who would be a matchup nightmare with her athleticism on the perimeter and her ability to play with her back to the basket against smaller guards in the blocks.

She understands that her rebounding makes her stand out in a state filled with talented players who can fill up the scoring column. And she wants to become the team’s leader on and off the court going into her final season at Vicksburg.

“The points come, but rebounds win games,” Mayfield said of her approach. “Next year, I want to be more of a leader. I’m used to people, coach pushing me and she’s expecting me to be a leader this year.”

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@vicksburgpost.com