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Burns is first Porter’s Chapel player in 20 years to become girls’ Player of the Year

Last season, Yakia Burns was a rising star on a very good Vicksburg High basketball team. She was the team’s second-leading scorer and helped the Missy Gators reach the MHSAA Class 5A semifinals.

Then she left that behind to go somewhere else.

Burns transferred to Porter’s Chapel Academy over the summer and had an even better season in 2020-21. She tripled her scoring average, helped the Lady Eagles to their highest win total in nearly 15 years, and earned a college scholarship.

She took home The Vicksburg Post’s girls’ basketball Player of the Year award. Burns is the first PCA player to win it since E.J. Willis did it in back-to-back seasons in 2000 and 2001.

“It’s a blessing to win Player of the Year. All my high school career, I worked hard,” Burns said.

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Burns said her reasons for transferring to PCA were “academics, not athletics,” and she had no issues with the school or her former coaches.

She did, however, give opponents in her new league plenty of problems.

Burns averaged 33.7 points, 10.2 rebounds, 5.7 steals and 2.7 assists for PCA this season. Her scoring and rebounding averages were triple and double what they were in 2019-20, respectively, which was fitting since she was a threat for a triple-double on almost any given night. Her best game was early in the season against Mt. Salus, when she scored 50 points in a 60-20 victory.

PCA assistant coach DeAndre King said it was harder to throttle back Burns’ competitiveness than to ignite it.

“There may have been times that we may have had a 20-point lead and she wants to put her foot on the go and pick up full court,” King said. “We have to go, ‘Hey, lighten up a little bit.’ Once she gets in that mode, nobody can tell her otherwise. Not even me.”

Burns said that drive was just part of her DNA as a basketball player.

“I didn’t really think that. I just wanted to get my teammates involved. And then if I felt like I had to push to another mode I just went ahead and did that so we could win the game,” Burns said.

The Lady Eagles won a lot of games, and Burns won a lot of accolades for her role in their turnaround.

Burns signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College in late December, and played in the MAIS All-Star Game. PCA finished with a 20-10 record and reached the Class 2A South State tournament, for its

“We had a wonderful season and I feel like my teammates got better,” Burns said.

Vicksburg Post girls basketball Players of the Year
2021 – Yakia Burns, Porter’s Chapel
2020 – Destini Sims, Vicksburg
2019 – Aniya Sanders, Warren Central
2018 – Amber Gaston, Warren Central
2017 – Amber Gaston, Warren Central
2016 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2015 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2014 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2013 – Ann Garrison Thomas, St. Aloysius
2012 – Ama Arkorful, Vicksburg
2011 – Donyeah Mayfield, Vicksburg
2010 – Donyeah Mayfield, Vicksburg
2009 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2008 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2007 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2006 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2005 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2004 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2003 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2002 – JaQuita Benard, Warren Central
2001 – E.J. Willis, Porter’s Chapel
2000 – E.J. Willis, Porter’s Chapel
1999 – Catrina Frierson, Vicksburg
1998 – Catrina Frierson, Vicksburg
1997 – Cynthia Hall, Vicksburg
1996 – Lakeshia Blue, Warren Central
1995 – Tangie Cooper, Warren Central
1994 – Tangie Cooper, Warren Central

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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