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All-County basketball team is coming Sunday

It’s time for the best weekend of the basketball season.

Yeah, the start of the NCAA Tournament is fun and all, but I meant the release of the 2019 Vicksburg Post all-Warren County basketball team. This is when we honor the best among our local players for a job well done.

The choices for our individual awards shared a common theme. Warren Central forward Aniya Sanders and Vicksburg High guard Devan Kiner, the girls’ and boys’ players of the year respectively, both had to navigate the challenges of blending in with new teams while trying to succeed on the court.

Kiner moved to Vicksburg from Dallas. He was clearly a talent, but his addition to the roster threatened to upset the chemistry of a tight-knit team that had largely been together since eighth grade. It wasn’t always easy, but everyone seemed to handle it well enough for the Gators to win 17 games and reach the MHSAA Class 5A state tournament.

Kiner averaged 14 points per game and did a little of everything.

Sanders had been a starter and sixth man for some very successful Warren Central teams for three years, but her team disintegrated around her in December. Several starters quit the team, leaving her as the only player on the roster with any real on-court experience.

Sanders immediately ascended to a leadership role, by default if nothing else, and embraced it. Despite opposing defenses focusing heavily on her, she averaged a triple-double for the season — 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists — and scored 20 or more points in 12 of the Lady Vikes’ last 15 games.

The Coach of the Year is St. Aloysius’ Eddie Pickle. At the end of the 2017-18 season he guaranteed the Flashes would win the MAIS District 3-AAA title this season. That didn’t happen, but they did earn the program’s first postseason victory in nearly 50 years. It was a big step forward for a team that is far from a basketball juggernaut.

Like the players of the year, Pickle had to blend in some new players with returning ones to get the right chemistry. It’s always a challenge, and he pulled it off well.

More detailed stories on this year’s players and coach of the year, as well as the rest of the basketball all-county team, will be in Sunday’s edition. Next week we’ll publish the soccer all-county team.

Give a hearty round of applause for all of the players and coaches honored this week and next. They’ve put in the work, navigated some rough seas, and earned their accolades.

Ernest Bowker is the sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at ernest.bowker@vicksburgpost.com

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured sports reporters in the paper's 137-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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