Before we get to the Outside the Huddle All-Area Team and our end-of-year awards, Bounce wanted to take some time and take a last glance at area conferences and hand out some league-specific hardware.
Next up is the SAC.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jordyn Poole, Snider
This one has little question. Poole came into the year considered the best and she raised her profile when we didn’t even think that was possible. She was consistent and played at a super high level all year. She got Snider inches from a state title game and was just captivating to watch all season long. Poole is a big game player and she showed up in better ways than before.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nevaeh Jackson, Northrop; Myah Epps, Homestead; Alison Stephens, Homestead
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Nevaeh Jackson, Northrop
If you know Bounce’s awards and OTH history, you know MVP means something different than Player of the Year. MVP to us is someone who is legit the most valuable to their team and overall success of that program.
We could go a lot of ways here but Jackson rally provided so much to a dominant Northrop squad. She was able to step into the biggest and most valuable roles of her career often. We saw Northrop lose a major player to injury. We saw Northrop have her sister Saniya in major foul trouble a few times in critical games. Each time, Nevaeh answers the call and steps up to keep Northrop dominant through much of the season. Nevaeh helped save the day a lot and her value to the Bruins’ SAC championship winning season was insane.
HONORABLE MENTION: Johnea Donhaue, Snider; Myah Epps, Homestead; Sydney Gorman, Wayne; Kayla Gibbs, Carroll
BREAKOUT PLAYER: Myah Epps, Homestead
Hype and substance are two different things. When they meet at a high level, there is a ton of excitement. Epps brought the most hype of any freshman into the season and while we all should have been weary, there is no reason to be anymore. Epps is next up in the now long line of Homestead freshmen who have and will take the area by storm. She was, at points, arguably the best player in the conference. As she continues to mature, and trust me she’s already quite a mature player, Epps is going to be a monster problem in this area.
HONORABLE MENTION: Brooklyn McLemore, Northrop; Jersey Paul, Carroll; Swynn Jackson, Northrop
COACH OF THE YEAR: Reggie Tharp, Snider
It’s easy to say that players were in place for Tharp at Snider, but it’s not so easy to slide into a role like that and succeed. Tharp had never been a head coach and although he was an assistant at Snider previous to getting the role this season, those are two different things. His connections with his players was evident and it meant that even with early struggles, Tharp’s leadership helped right the ship quickly and efficiently.
It was a major benchmark season for Tharp right out of the gate. Years of basketball leadership and coaching on different levels fueled his ability to be so successful and gel with his players in this new role.
HONORABLE MENTION: Katie Jackson, Northrop; Mark Redding, Carroll
GAME OF THE YEAR: Snider at Northrop
There is zero question here. The two best teams in the SAC, players and coaches that know each other well from school and summer ball. And it’s Snider and Northrop, always historically a rivalry anyway.
There was a lot of pressure on both teams because of expectations of success and the SAC was essentially on the line. This was a game of runs, a game of grit and a game where players stepped up trying to prove that they could play at an extreme level and to prove their team was the best.
The fans made the atmosphere great and it felt like SAC Basketball of old with a crowd you just don’t see every night. It clearly invigorated the players and made it the superstar laden contest even more interesting.
In the end, Northrop escaped and was able to prove they had some supreme depth.
EARLY 2024 SAC CHAMPION PREDICTION: Snider
There are so many girls back for the Panthers and they are good. At the top is clearly Jordyn Poole and Johnea Donahue, but this team proved this season that they have really nice depth and can hurt you in so many more than two ways.
Ciara Sims and Tia Phinezy played games where they were the best player on the court and that’s gotta be exciting for the Panther faithful. Brie Barnes has been able to grow at a strong rate too behind the class of 2024 group and the Panthers are building a bit of a dynasty if they can keep consistency.
There is zero team we look forward to seeing more next year in the SAC and it’s clear they are the early favorites to capture a conference title.
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