2023 All-County Basketball: Vicksburg’s Layla Carter was the best in Warren County and in Mississippi

Published 3:30 am Sunday, March 12, 2023

The secret to Layla Carter’s success is not that complicated. It’s a tried-and-true formula of work, improve, and then work and improve some more.

“My favorite basketball player has always been Kobe (Bryant). That’s his main thing, is never be satisfied with yourself. Always be better,” Carter said. “The only person you’re in competition with is yourself, so on and off the court I try to get better at any and everything.”

Carter might never fully master the process — which is sort of the point of it — but she has done it better than almost all of her peers.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The Vicksburg High senior was on a team that won 81 games in her four years as a starter. She was named Miss Basketball, the top player in the state, for Class 5A in the Mississippi High School Activities Association. And she’s the 2023 Vicksburg Post girls basketball Player of the Year.

“Layla is one of those once in a lifetime basketball players. She doesn’t know her ceiling,” Vicksburg coach Troy Stewart said. “The coaches and I did the best we could to nurture the talent and make it go a little further. Her parents, her AAU coaches, her work ethic were instrumental for her. She is special.”

Carter broke into the starting lineup as a freshman, when Vicksburg reached the Class 5A semifinals, and broke out after that.

Carter averaged about 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.5 steals per game in her sophomore and junior seasons. This year, she took it to another level by putting up 22 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks per game.

The Missy Gators finished 25-6 this season and won their fourth consecutive MHSAA Region 4-5A tournament championship.

Stewart said Carter’s consistency is easy to take for granted.

“We had some games where JaNa (Colenburg) hit six 3s and you go, ‘Wow! She had a great game!’ There were games where Janiah (Caples) scored 21 and you say, ‘She had a great game!’ You look at the box score and Layla’s right there with them every time. And I’m like, ‘I didn’t see all that,’” Stewart said. “We here in Vicksburg have become so accustomed to her being great that we don’t even notice it any more.”

Carter said she’s tried to use everything she can to get better. In addition to playing basketball on the AAU circuit, she also runs track and credited that with helping her speed, conditioning and quickness on defense.

“You play against a lot of good players, and every year is a challenge not to stay the same. It’s always a challenge to get better than you were the previous year,” she said. “That’s what I focus on — always getting better and never getting satisfied, always strive to do better and do more.”

Carter also credited her teammates for helping her with the mental side of the game. After playing competitive basketball for almost a decade, she confessed to feeling some burnout last summer. Her teammates — eight seniors who have been together since grade school — helped reignite her passion for the game.

“It’s been eight or nine years we’ve been playing together. I hate the season ended the way it did, but I’m proud of everybody,” Carter said. “I hope they go and be great in the future and I wish the best for all of them.”

Carter’s basketball career is far from finished. She’s signed with Division II Southern Arkansas, where she’ll be reunited with assistant coach and former VHS star Alexus Stirgus.

Stirgus, Carter said, was a big reason she’s headed to Magnolia, Arkansas.

“She’s been training me since I was a baby. She’s like family to me, so going there and being able to get that coaching back on the collegiate level, I’m really excited for that,” Carter said.

She’s also excited for the challenge of playing at the next level. It’ll take more hard work, more improvement, to succeed, but that’s nothing new for her.

“I know I’m starting over so I’ve got to put way more work in than I’m putting in now. That’s just another challenge,” Carter said. “I’ve completed my goals for this year and now I’ve got to make bigger and better goals and complete them. It’s on to the next thing.”

Vicksburg Post Girls Basketball Players of the Year
2023 – Layla Carter, Vicksburg
2022 – Destini Sims, Vicksburg
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
1993 – 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 reporters in the paper's 140-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.

email author More by Ernest