All-metro Girls Basketball

March 26, 2009

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Asya Bussie

Seton Keough

Bussie, who has been one of the area's best post players for four years, is putting an impressive finishing touch on her career. Her aggressive play on both ends of the court led the Gators to the No. 1 ranking after winning the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title and the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament championship.

"She had to come into a leadership role, and she hadn't had to do that with all the seniors we had last year," Seton Keough coach Jackie Boswell said. "In mid-January, she realized she had to get the team going and get the team to step up and play better. I think she saw if she did that, the other kids would, too. By mid-January, she just took the team on her shoulders."

The 6-foot-4 center, who has signed with West Virginia, had her best performances at the end of the season. In the A Conference final, she had 22 points and 14 rebounds in a 58-38 victory over six-time defending champion St. Frances, which had won both regular-season meetings. Then at the Bishop Walsh tournament - which a Baltimore team had never won - she scored 27 points in the final to avenge a season-opening loss to Elizabeth Seton, 55-43.

She averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks and has 1,726 points and 1,198 rebounds for her career.

"This year for Asya, I thought her post moves were more aggressive and more fluent," St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton said. "Previously, she would kick the ball back out, but this year, she clearly understood that she was the No. 1 option and she had to make a play at the basket."

Bussie will lead the Gators at the National High School Invitational on April 4-5 at Georgetown Prep, where they play against Oak Hill (Va.).

COACH OF THE YEAR

Jackie Boswell

Seton Keough

In her ninth year with the Gators, Boswell led them to an unprecedented season.

Not only did they win the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship for the first time since 2000 and finish with the No. 1 ranking, but they also won the Bishop Walsh Girls Invitational Tournament - something no Baltimore school had done.

Boswell had a strong foundation in two veteran seniors, center Asya Bussie and point guard Katelyn Fischer, but she had to bring a group of younger players together quickly, especially early on when senior guard Carly Read was out with an injury. The young players developed quickly and Seton Keough overcame early missteps to upset six-time defending champion St. Frances for the A Conference title, 58-38.

"I thought when we took some losses early, we could either fold or we could figure out how to change that," Boswell said. "I feel we learned from those losses.

"The last couple weeks of the season, I saw this team come together and play for each other. I think we've had other great teams, but these kids played for each other and they would do anything for each other," said Boswell, whose career record is 197-62.

FIRST TEAM

Breaira Barksdale

City

Knights coach George Petrides expects his 5-foot-6 senior guard to be a coach someday, because she acted as his coach on the floor this season. In the state final against previously unbeaten River Hill, Barksdale provided the spark and the calming influence that drove No. 3 City to a 59-51 overtime victory for the Class 3A title and its first state championship. She scored five of the Knights' 12 overtime points, and her short jumper with 52 seconds left gave them a 53-49 lead. Barksdale, who had 21 points and three assists in the title game, also played a key role in the Knights' early-season upset of Seton Keough. She averaged 9.3 points and 4.4 assists, and was tough to stop in combination with backcourt mate LaShay Taft. Barksdale could drive or hit the three-pointer and also looked more for her inside teammates this season. She has made an oral commitment to UNC-Asheville.

Cassie Cooke

Winters Mill

After leading the Falcons to their best season ever and the state Class 2A semifinals last season, the 5-foot-8 senior guard continued to show off her exceptional repertoire with a less-experienced team that finished its season in the regional quarterfinals. Cooke, a repeat first-team All-Metro selection, averaged 14 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.2 steals as Winters Mill finished 10-14. Cooke has always been a tough matchup for opponents with her array of inside and outside skills. Quick and intense with terrific court sense, she was always a three-point threat, but she could rebound with much taller players and post them up. She also had a keen eye for her teammates and made crowd-pleasing pinpoint passes. Defensively, she was a pest and forced a lot of turnovers. Cooke, who finished her career with 1,081 points, 616 rebounds and 480 assists, has signed with Rhode Island.

Jess Harlee

Fallston

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