top of page

WCSA All-County Girls Team

Warren County Sports Authority editor-in-chief Jeffery Simmons has been covering local elementary basketball for the last decade. Over the years, he started selecting an all-county team. We're happy to continue the tradition on the WCSA! These are selections made by Simmons - all quotes from coaches came from direct questions about the recognized player. Enjoy!


It doesn't matter which direction you head in Warren County on a weekday night. Odds are, if you stop by a gym, you're going to be treated to an amazing atmosphere. The rivalries built between county basketball programs, all battling for local supremacy and championships, are unlike any other. I love championship season in elementary basketball - It's guaranteed to entertain.

My favorite part of the season, even one like this one that dealt with snow and sickness delays, is watching which players emerge on the hardwood. Inevitably, the cream of the crop rise - and their teams usually rise in the standings as well. The Morrison Lady Eagles are working on a special season, looking to go wire-to-wire undefeated and put up a 15-0 mark. I'm sure there will be plenty of teams looking to put a stop to that next week in the elementary tournament!

Before I break down my selections in three teams, I just want to give some idea into my selection process. The majority of it is the eye test, just remembering the players who immediately stood out when I walked into the gym. Usually after a quarter, you know when you're watching a major talent.

I also keep meticulous stats - I bug coaches daily to make sure I get all the books and I have a spreadsheet that tracks the league's top scorers (the final top 10 list will be published with the brackets and final standings). Someday, maybe we'll get Hudl for every school and we'll all have more access to more stats than just points, but right now, it's still a pretty good signifier of the top players.

As far as construction, I like build a lineup that I feel could be on the court together. Some years I may cheat and go with four guards or load up on posts, but usually I like the 2/3 or 3/2 format. In girls basketball, teams win with great guards, but there were some posts who dominated this season as well.

Lastly, I try to factor in team success, impact on the team on both ends (have to give it up for good defenders), standout skills (like some emerging sharpshooters) and passion/excitement for the game. There are some players who are just natural performers and feed off the crowd - it's what makes elementary basketball so special!

Also, I wanted to give a quick shoutout to all the elementary coaches this year. It's just a good group of leaders who all genuinely care about their schools and kids. They all have a love of the game and love for county basketball. When I was talking with coach Kelly Eckenrod from Centertown about this list, she summed it up the best - "Great rivalries have, at their core, great respect. All of these opposing players are friends and, in the end, are young girls who hang out together after tough wins/losses against each other."

This is a great town.

OK, let's jump into the Warren County Sports Authority All-County girls basketball teams!

First Team Guard - Jayla Garibaldi, Morrison

It seems simple when said out loud - "Just keep Jayla from going left." At some point, every coach in the league has shouted those instructions or written them on a scouting report, but Garibaldi keeps getting to her strong hand and finishing with style.

Few players can match Garibaldi's speed and quickness, nor her outstanding touch in the paint when she blows by a defender. If Garibaldi turns the corner and sees a chance to get the ball off the glass, forget it and put two points on the board.

Her evolution as an all-around offensive weapon is what made Morrison unbeatable in the regular season (the Lady Eagles won eight of their 10 games by double figures). Garibaldi penetrates defenses, forces tough rotations and then gives the ball to teammates for easy looks.

There's also defense - where Garibaldi can hound ball handlers and pick their pockets with ease. She's an all-around force and the early favorite to add another MVP to her trophy case (she was the preseason MVP of the Morrison Ruritan tournament) next week in the 3-Point Club postseason tournament. Morrison will debut at Charlie Dalton Gym Tuesday, Dec. 8.

Morrison coach Clara Moore: "Jayla is a leader. She’s all about the game – she knows it well. She can drive like nobody’s business and she passes well too. Every time I say, ‘Step Up,’ she will step up and play well. She runs the team on the floor – she tells players where to go and when to move. She’s also a great defender."

Eastside coach Kyle Cannon: "Jayla Garibaldi has been one of my favorite kids to coach and play against. She is a natural athlete that sees the floor well and has a very high basketball IQ. She is one of the best passers I’ve seen and can score at anytime.

She is the hardest player to stop in the league. She will definitely be a great asset to the high school next year."

First Team Guard - Sarah Kate Winfree, Eastside

She may be one of the youngest starting players in the 7-8 grade league, but Sarah Kate Winfree shows no fear when she steps on the hardwood. It's usually the opponents who start to get nervous, knowing the league's best scorer can go off in a moment's notice.

Sarah Kate, a sixth grader, routinely put up huge scoring numbers this year, eventually winning the scoring title by a wide margin. Winfree averaged 18.1 points per game, including the league's lone 30-point game (she had 30 points in a 37-28 win over Irving College in December). In a league featuring six teams and saw 70-plus players see action, Winfree was a scoring outlier.

There were only 11 times where a player scored 20-or-more points this season: Winfree had four (30, 24, 22 and 21 point outings). Her ability to detonate on a defense is a big reason why Eastside finished 7-3 and enters the postseason as a contender for the title.

Winfree and the Lady Bulldogs will start action in the 3-Point Club postseason tournament Saturday against Boyd.

Eastside coach Kyle Cannon: "Sarah Kate has been our leading scorer for both our 5-6 grade and 7-8 grade teams this year. She has put up big numbers despite being one of the younger kids in the 7-8 grade league. I haven’t seen numbers like this since Irving Espinoza and CJ Taylor at such a young age.

Her offensive skills are great but she prides herself on making sure she plays good defense every game. She has also done a really good job of making sure she keeps her teammates involved on offense. We are excited we still have her for the next two years.

I've coached her and Jayla [see above] for three years. They both see the floor very well and are very basketball smart. They're great team players - very unselfish. They are both natural scorers. The only difference is one goes left (Jayla) and one goes right (Sarah Kate) and one is in sixth grade (Sarah Kate) and one is in eighth grade."

Centertown coach Kelly Eckenrod: "Sara Kate is the type of player that you plan your whole defense around. She is a consummate competitor. Once she is in “Go” mode, she is a machine who doesn’t stop until the buzzer sounds. Although she can drive from anywhere her best offense is her stealth rebounding - she sneaks in while everyone else is concentrated on the goal. She has an eye for where the ball is going to ricochet, gets it and is gone. Once she can run in the open court, she can’t be stopped. It’s a special skill that is so instinctual it really can’t be stopped. She will be fun to watch at future levels."

First Team Guard - Allie Melton, Centertown

Allie Melton hides in plain sight for Centertown. Opponents will look at the scoreboard and wonder why they're down double figures to the Lady Warriors and Melton will be the reason, as her stealth skills keep Centertown chugging along.

Melton isn't a volume scorer (though she did have 21 points in a big win over Eastside, which helped clinch the No. 2 seed in next week's tournament), but she routinely scores when Centertown needs a bucket. She's also a great caretaker of the offense, rarely making mistakes that get teams off and running.

Her two-way game is elite - she's a stout defender at top of Centertown's defense who doesn't mind crashing the glass, hitting the deck or diving into the stands. She just wants the ball and becomes a heat-seeking missile if it's in range.

Melton's late-season flourish (double figures in three of the team's last five games) helped her rank eighth in the league in scoring at 7.9 points per game.

Centertown coach Kelly Eckenrod: "Anyone who has ever watched Allie Melton play can see that she has the heart of a lion. She is the player you want on the court in the fourth quarter for sure. When she was just in the fourth grade, I would look at her on the bench, motion like I was taking the pin out of a grenade, and say 'Al, go blow something up.'

She is a playmaker and I’ve never seen a player who hates to lose that much. Any coach needs a player like that on their team. She works on her skills from year to year; She knows you’re never good enough and you have to keep working. I would put her ballhandling skills up against anyone. She’s as good left as she is right. You can’t often say that about a middle schooler.

Those skills will transfer to the next level even more than prolific scoring at this age. Her skills, desire and unmatched fearlessness will carry her as far as she wants to go. It has been pure privilege to coach her."

Irving College coach Jasmine Evans: "I've been coaching against Allie for years and she is a very good player. We've seen her at every level, first in 5-6 grade in the county championship and now in 7-8 grade. She's always been good because she knows the game well and is a team player."

First Team Forward - Harmoni Kennerly, Morrison

If Jayla Garibaldi is the lightning for Morrison - a speedster that can strike in an instant - then Harmoni Kennerly is the thunder that follows. Nobody wants to be in the way when Harmoni decides she wants the ball - if she gets her hands on it, it's her ball and everybody else is going to be sparling to the hardwood.

Kennerly has been a walking bucket for years in elementary leagues due to her off-the-charts athleticism, but she's really rounded out her game while leading the Lady Eagles to a 10-0 record. She's a streaky shooter from deep and has flashed a midrange game that frustrates opponents who set up at the rim waiting for her to barrel forward.

Kennerly's 12.6 points per game average was third in the league and featured nine double-figure nights, including 18 points against Dibrell in the doubleheader to finish the regular season.

Morrison coach Clara Moore: "When Harmoni comes at you, she comes in hard. She’s tough to stop. She can also shoot from the outside and she’s a strong defender. One thing Harmoni does really well is go after the offensive glass – if she misses, she’s usually the one getting it back. She’s so tough on offense and defense."

Centertown coach Kelly Eckenrod: "Harmoni Kennerly gets dramatically better each year. She has always had raw athleticism but it she has now added such strength and mature defensive decisions that she forces turnover after turnover. People often look at a players scoring to judge their greatness. Harmoni forces you to appreciate, or fear, aggressive smart defense in your opponent.

Harmoni causes my players more 'chewing out' by me because she always comes from nowhere - and everywhere - to snatch the ball out of the air. If we kept the stat, I’d bet she leads the league in steals.

Everything she does is always with rock solid emotion and ice water in her veins. I love players like that."

First Team Center - Kealey Simpson, Centertown

It's not easy to get coaches to get to a consensus in many arguments, but there is one question that would likely get a unanimous response if you polled the 7-8 grade girls coaches. Just ask them who is the most feared post in the league and they're all going to start pointing and Kealey Simpson.

The Lady Warriors' rock in the middle of the paint routinely faces, and beats, double and triple teams nightly. Trying to guard Simpson with just one player is impossible - she has a size advantage (5-foot-10) against everybody and can finish with either hand around the rim.

Simpson has also started to impose her will on defense, seeking out shots and sending them flying if defenders try to sneak one by Centertown's splendid center.

While there aren't official stats for blocks and rebounds, Simpson would rank near the top in both. As for scoring, Simpson finished fifth in the league (12.3 ppg) and had a season-best 22 points against Morrison a close loss to the undefeated Eagles Jan. 27.

Centertown coach Kelly Eckenrod: "Kealey Simpson showed up at my tryouts in fifth grade never having really played the game before. At the time, her primary and most loved sport had been football. But she listened well, tried new skills, and I thought, 'Well you know what they say - you can’t coach size.'

The impact on a team that a player like Simpson has is obvious to everyone. But what makes her special is not just her size. Most big girls her age can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Kealey jumps rope like a boxer. Her touch with the ball, both left handed and right, is also hard to find at her age. And she gets better all the time.

What is so exciting about her potential is that she is just beginning. Her defensive blocks are just now coming on and she has a pretty good jump hook in the middle. I can’t wait to see her develop and come in to her own at the high school level. She is a natural leader and such a good girl. It’s going to be hard for me to let her go."

Morrison coach Clara Moore: "Kealey is so tough under the goal. It’s hard to stop her, even if you put two girls on her. When we see Centertown, we immediately see Kealey. If she gets the ball under the rim, she never misses. She’s so solid and has such a soft touch where she can finish on either side with either hand. "


Second Team Guard: Chloe Wanamaker, Morrison

Morrison's tenacious defender and sneaky scorer, Chloe Wanamaker played a vital role in the Lady Eagles cruising to a 10-0 record in the regular season. Wanamaker did everything needed for Morrison night-to-night, sticking to ball handlers, scoring if her teammates were swarmed and facilitating as a secondary ball handler. Wanamaker showed she can fill it up on the last night of the regular season, recording a season-best 11 points against Dibrell.

Second Team Guard: Lilly Cathcart, Irving College

One some nights for Irving College, Lilly Cathcart was the team's entire offense. Opponents devoted their whole defense to matchup with the Lady Tigers solid shooter, knowing she could catch fire at any time. Cathcart scored over 41 percent of Irving College's points this year, finishing seventh in the league (8.9 ppg). Cathcart will lead the upset-minded Lady Tigers into the postseason tournament this Saturday for a matchup with Dibrell.

Second Team Guard: Maddox Adams, Dibrell

As the season went on, Maddox Adams began blossoming into one the top scorers in the 7-8 grade elementary league. Adams, a nimble lefty with a good touch and an burgeoning jumper, scored in double figures in seven of her team's last eight games, including a season-best 18 points in a win over Irving College. Adams finished the season as the league's fourth-leading scorer (12.4 ppg) and will lead Dibrell into the postseason this Saturday, starting with another matchup with Irving College.

Second Team Forward: Maci Bush, Eastside

When defense sent all their forces to try to stop Sarah Kate Winfree, Maci Bush made sure to burn opponents with a blend of solid midrange shooting, an improving touch at the basket and hardnosed rebounding. Despite being a second option every night, Bush finished sixth in the league in scoring, dropping 100 points this year (10.0 ppg). Bush was one of just three players to score 20-or-more points in two games this year, joining Sarah Kate and Morrison's Jayla Garibaldi. Bush had 22 points in wins over Boyd and Dibrell.

Second Team Center: Anslee Crick, Dibrell

Already tough to handle on the block, Anslee Crick is just starting to realize everything she can do on the hardwood. Her size was a difference maker for Dibrell this year, allowing the team to make a push for fourth in the standings and pick up four wins. Crick was particularly a headache for the Boyd Lady Broncos, scoring 13 points in each of the Lady Wildcats' wins in the season series.


WCSA Third Team All-County Girls

G - Cydney Jane Perry, Boyd

G - Trinity Reynolds, Centertown

F - Kendra Fann, Centertown

F - Katrina Lusk, Morrison

F - Samantha Saldana, Morrison

822 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page