Rebounding is one of the most valued skills in basketball. To be a good rebounder a player needs heart, grit and great anticipation.
Ashanti Brown, who did not start playing basketball until the eighth grade, has all of those attributes and the Bryan County sophomore put them on display last Friday night when she helped lead the Redskins to a crucial Region 3AD1 win over Metter.
Kayley Wedlow led the Redskins’ 64-50 victory with 22 points but it was Brown who had everyone buzzing as she turned in the most complete game of her short career as she pulled down 23 rebounds and scored 20 points. Kenzie Stucker added 12 points.
“Just crazy!” Coach Mario Mincey said of Brown’s performance on the boards. “The key to rebounding is getting in position, box out and then go get the ball.
“She’s able to track the ball and she’s a good athlete. Being able to track the ball is the biggest thing. She’s able to do that, see it and then go get it.”
The win, along with a 40-29 win at Claxton on Tuesday night, kept the Redskins (14-4, 5-3) in contention for a second- place finish in the regular season region race. Woodville-Tompkins (16-5, 9-0) has locked up the No. 1 seed for the region tournament.
Wedlow had 15 points, five steals and three assists against Claxton while Brown had 12 points and 12 rebounds. Stucker had nine rebounds to go with five points.
A win over Screven at home Friday night combined with a Woodville victory over the Gamecocks next week would give Bryan County a No. 2 seed in the region tournament and more importantly a bye in the semis which would mean a state playoff berth.
The Bryan County boys (7-12, 5-4) followed up a 61-46 win over the Metter with a 51-30 win at Claxton to behind 18 points from Javin Collins.
“He also had 18 points against Woodville,” Coach Brent Anderson said. “He has shot the ball really well. Everyone else scored six to eight points. It was a spread out effort and we did a really good job on defense.”
Junior Tanner Ennis had a season high 16 points to lead the Redskins past Metter. Sophomore Elijah Mincey added 14 and Justin Beck gave them a big lift in the second quarter when he came off the bench to hit three straight three-pointers.
Bryan County can clinch a No. 3 region tournament seed with a win over Screven County on Friday night. It beat the Gamecocks (6-12, 2-4) by 25 points earlier. Woodville (14-8, 9-0) and Savannah High (146, 5-2) have the top two spots locked up.
Brown had a stunned look on her face when told her rebounding total. She had 11 boards and nine points in the first quarter which the Redskins led 17-13. They pushed the lead to 37-25 at the half with Wedlow getting nine points in the second quarter and led by as many as 16 in the second half.
“Boxing out, knowing where the defense is and getting straight to the basket,” Brown said of the key to rebounding. “It’s a fight. You have to have a hunger for the ball.”
In Mincey’s 16 years at Bryan County he has had some excellent rebounders, Jay Black and current assistant coach Yasmine Crawford being the most recent standouts. Black is now playing at Albany State where she is averaging a team high 9.1 rebounds which is good for fourth in the SIAC.
Brown was thrust into the lineup last year due to injury and is admittedly a work in progress but there’s no questioning her work habits and commitment to getting better.
“I think I’ve improved offensively,” said the 5-foot-8 Brown who qualified for the state track meet last spring as a sprinter. “I’ve got a better understanding of the game and a better anticipation of things that are going to happen.
“I feel like there a lot of things—everything— that I’ve got to get better at if I want to be great. I’m going to do everything I can to do that.”