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Briarwood honors top basketball players

Briarwood Academy seniors Cassie Pickrell and Dave Joesbury received top honors at the annual basketball awards banquet last week when the school's top basketball players for 2008 were recognized.

Joesbury, the Runnin' Bucs MVP, received not only Region 1AA honors, but was also named an AA All State Player by the GISA coaches. Joesbury, who scored over 30 points in three games and over 20 points in eight games, averaged 18.3 points per game for the Bucs this season. Additionally, he averaged 8.3 rebounds per game and 5.1 blocks.

"Dave was our ‘go to' guy," Coach Christian Tiller said. "He was our first option, our second option and our third option in our offense. We tried to get it to him as much as we could."

With close to 1,150 points, Joesbury is only the seventh Buc to score over 1,000 points during his high school career.

Pickrell, the Lady Bucs MVP, scored 918 career points for the Lady Bucs and averaged 7.5 rebounds per game.

Pickrell was the Lady Bucs "go-to player in tight situations," according to girls coach Clayton Parrish. "She held her composure, and we wanted the ball in her hands at the end."

Both Pickrell and Joesbury were selected by GISA coaches to play in the A/AA South Carolina/Georgia Independent School Associations All Star game.

Senior Whitney Carani was selected by her coach as the Best Offensive Player for the girls while senior Hughlon Mays was selected by his teammates the Most Valuable Offensive Player for the boys.

Carani led the team in field goal shooting percentage, "which is really rare for a point guard," Parrish said. Carani scored 707 points during her career as a Lady Buc. Carani was named to the GISA 1AA All Region team by the region coaches.

Mays, who also received the Coaches Award from Coach Christian Tiller, averaged 9.3 points and three assists per game for the Bucs, while also averaging five rebounds and two steals per game.

"Hughlon gave 110 percent of what he had every time," Coach Christian Tiller said. "He stepped up and played point guard for us when Ryan (Gerlach with an injury), which not just anybody can do. We wouldn't have gotten where we did without him."

Sophomore Brittini Phelps received Best Defensive Player honors for the Lady Bucs while Joesbury's 8.3 rebounds and 5.1 blocks per game captured him Most Valuable Defensive Player honors for the Bucs.

Senior Macey Smith was named Most Improved Player for the Lady Bucs while junior Ryan Gerlach was named Most Improved Player for the Bucs.

"Macey really came through for the team this season," Parrish said. "Her recovery from that ACL injury (her sophomore year) just shows you how hard of a worker she is. She worked extremely hard to rehabilitate that leg, and then we moved her from guard to post. She had to learn a new position, and she did a super job. She played her best basketball at the end of the season, which is what you want."

Gerlach took over the position of team floor leader when he became the Bucs' point guard at the beginning of the season, only to have it snatched from him when he broke his collarbone in a hard fall about one-third of the way through the schedule. Although not expected to return, Gerlach did return for limited playing time in the final three games of the seasons and scored 22 points in those final games.

Senior Brooke Wiley received the Coaches Award for the Lady Bucs from Coach Parrish.

"Brooke is very quick and probably the best defender on the basketball team," Coach Parrish said. "Her heart and her desire - she dived after loose balls, she really went all out," Parrish said. "When she went into a ball game, she always guarded the best guard on the other team."

Wiley is credited with 28 steals this past season.

Both coaches also honored other seniors on the team.

Senior Joy Dudley was the team's first post player to come off the bench and was one of the team's top rebounders as well as one of the better free throw shooters on the team.

"She is deceptively strong, which surprises you," Parrish said of the diminutive Dudley.

The Bucs' John Spivey and Andrew Johnson were both "role" players for the Bucs and both started for the Bucs.

"They understood what the team needed from them, and they gave us exactly what we needed when we needed it," Coach Tiller said. "It's hard to find guys who will give up their personal desires for the team, but both of them did just that."

Web posted on Thursday, March 20, 2008

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