The most successful season in more than a decade has helped the Pinecrest girls’ basketball team land the top two individual honors bestowed by the Southeastern Conference.
By a vote of the coaches, senior Jennie Joy was selected Conference Player of the Year, and Patriot coach Mike Loutzenheiser was recognized as Conference Coach of the Year. Sophomores Felicia Painter and Janea Williams were other first team selections from the Patriots. Senior Shaniqua Collins was an honorable mention pick.
In Loutzenheiser’s first year at Pinecrest, the Patriots finished the season with an overall record of 17-8. They were 6-4 in the conference, finishing in third place. The season ended on Monday with a 48-43 first round state playoff loss at Middle Creek.
Joy came to Pinecrest as a junior after starting at O’Neal for two years. This season the 5-foot-4 point guard led the Patriots in scoring at 12.8 points per game. She was also the leader in steals, assists, field goal percentage and threes, and was third in rebounds. Her turnover ratio was 3-to-1.
Joy’s best performance of the season may have come in a 46-42 win at Western Harnett when she scored 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and handed out three assists.
“She’s got the complete package,” Loutzenheiser said on Thursday. “Most people probably don’t realize it, but most of the time, she guarded the best player on the other team regardless of size because of how well she jumps and how physical and strong she is. And to do that and turn around and push the ball up the court and direct our offense was really a tremendous feat for her. She’s a wonderful young lady and a great basketball player.”
The 6-3 Williams averaged 8.3 points and led the team with 11.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Painter, at 6-0, averaged 7.3 points and 10.6 rebounds. In a game against Scotland County, she had 14 points and 16 boards, and she put up 19 and 14 in a late season contest at Hoke County.
“The progress that each of them made was tremendous,” Loutzenheiser said. “Janea really has the skill set to be dominant when her mind-set catches up to her abilities.
“Felicia was just a workhorse. You can’t have a successful team without players like her that work hard on both ends of the floor and are all about the team concept.”
Collins, Joy’s running mate at guard, had to do some catching up at the beginning after not playing as a junior. She averaged 6.8 points, including 16 with three treys in a late-season game against the conference champion Richmond Senior team.
“She was a great kid all year on and off the court,” Loutzenheiser said. “I was glad to see her get recognition.”
Ashleigh McKenzie, a three-year varsity player, was fifth on the team in scoring with a 3.7 points per game average. Senior Lizzie Smith was right behind at 3.5. Guard Keegan Lynch, one of three sophomore starters much of the season, averaged 2.6 points per game.
Loutzenheiser came in as the team’s sixth head coach in the last nine years. Last season’s 10-15 record under Alvita Thomas was the program’s previous best season since the 1990s.
Contact Charlie Bergmann at email@example.com.