Hicks, Lawrence, and Cheatham Pick Up All State Honors
March 30, 2014Kendrick High School
Kendrick High’s Kahlia Lawrence wasn’t surprised when she heard the news.It wasn’t that she expected to get recognized on the state level. Only that those kinds of personal accolades come with the territory her Lady Cherokees have found themselves in after winning a state title over six-time defending champion Wesleyan.“It’s a lot easier when you win it all,” she said with a smile after learning she had been voted the Class AA girls player of the year by the Georgia Sportswriters Association.It’s true.
Teammate Deja Cheatham was recognized as well, earning a first-team nod, and coach Sterling Hicks was named the classification’s coach of the year.“They earned it this year,” said Hicks, who noted that he thought Lawrence could have been named the state’s top player a year ago. “We just didn’t win, and I understand that comes with it. But she earned it this year.”While Kendrick was the only state champion, voters felt a number of others from the Columbus area had earned a nod, as well. Overall, three players, including Lawrence, were voted boys or girls first teams, one to second team and 10 players to honorable mentions. Columbus’ Alexia Manning joined Lawrence and Cheatham as first-teamers, while Manning’s teammate Jacqueria Gunter was the lone second-teamer.
Despite Lawrence’s assertion that winning the title is what earned her the award, her numbers did their part as well. She averaged 26.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and six steals per game to lead the Lady Cherokees, notched a single-game record 45 points, a single-season record 759 points and finished with a career-record 2,086 points.Perhaps none of those numbers were as important as the 25 she scored in the season finale to help Kendrick to a 69-58 win over a team many had begun to believe was unbeatable in a state championship game. Wesleyan had won six straight before running into Kendrick, but the Lady Cherokees picked up the win, their first title since 2008 and second overall. Hicks commended
Lawrence’s performance in that game, but noted that it was important for players like Cheatham to play well around her.“We knew we weren’t going to win with just her,” he said. “Everyone else had to step up. Cheatham deserved it, too. I was more proud of her than anybody because she stepped up and played like a senior’s supposed to play even though she wasn’t totally healthy.”Injuries limited Cheatham for a large chunk of the season, but she came back late and gave Kendrick the interior presence it needed.Lawrence also stressed how well-deserved Hicks’ selection as coach of the year was.“He deserves that title almost every year,” she said. “He’s the best coach I’ve had so far. He’s been a tremendous help improving my game and everything. But things that people see, we’re used to that. That’s what we do every day. … He does (demand a lot), but we’re just used to it. When you come in and do that every day, it’s just repetition. You build your body to take it.”