Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

2016 Duval Sports Girls Gateway Tournament Team

Well the 2016 girls basketball gateway conference championship is in the books, and it was another year of great action and excellent play. S0 to keep with the tradition I started last year, I’m going to name my starting five that I obeserved in the tournament and my sixth woman. This is not the gateway conference coaches list, you can click HERE for that. This is a list of players that impressed me during the tournament and would make up my starting five. This list was incredibly hard but only six could make it.

Here it is….


Center- Rennia Davis (Ribault)

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She is the most dangerous player on the court. She has the quickness of a shooting guard, but the height of a center. She can drive to the basket to penetrate the defense or she can set up for the 20 foot jumper. She doesn’t mind knocking down the 3 pointer either. She is unguardable when her game is on. In every game of the tournament she was a force to be reckoned with. Virtually unstoppable against any team. I thought Paxon’s young center would frustrate Davis with her long arms and height, but it never fazed Rennia. It’s like she grows bigger as the game or competition gets bigger.

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On defense she patrols the paint restricting penetration by opponents. She can lock down point guards on the perimeter, and block shots on defense while grabbing offensive rebounds. Ribault substituted several players throughout their championship game, but Davis remained in the game building the confidence of her teammates. Rennia makes everyone better on the floor with her presence. You couldn’t ask for anything better as a coach.


Power Forward- DayNeshia Davis (Ribault)

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The most complete player I’ve observed, her game is modeled after James Worthy (whom she has probably never heard of).  On the fast break she can push the ball up court or run the trailer and finish. She too has a very nice jump shot from 20 feet like her partner Davis, which makes it almost laughable that their both on the same team and both are just juniors in high school..

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Yea ..yea..yea.. it may be funny to them, but it certainly isn’t amusing to their competition. Banks exhibits the aggressiveness that enforces the paint and pressures ball handlers in the full court press. But her post game is what makes her complete. When she has her back to the basket that spells trouble for the defender. It’s like a surgeon performing an operation, precise, masterful, amazing to watch.

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Small Forward- Nola Carter ( Ribault)

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Ribault is known for their versatile players who can score and defend, but their most talented defender is Nola Carter. She exhibits exactly what every good basketball team needs, hustle and passion. She is the ultimate competitor leaving everything out there on the court. Her four steals against Sandalwood played a pivotal role in the game. And she was instrumental in locking down Parker’s talented backcourt.

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If Carter was on any other team she would be their top scorer and “go-to” player on offense. But she has sacrificed personal offensive accolades for her team which doesn’t go unnoticed. The senior shut down defender has led her team to a city best 20-1 record.


Shooting Guard- Jha’Ne Wheeler (Paxon)

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This was the toughest position to select because there were so many talented scorers in the tournament. But Wheeler got the zish because of her lights out shooting and ball handling. If you need a big shot without hesitation in crunch time just get the ball to Wheeler and tell her to go to work!

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Her game is not just limited to shooting which she excels in knocking down the three pointer.  She also has some of the best handles off the dribble on the court. In the championship game, Paxon knew they would be in a 12 round heavyweight bout and they turned to Wheeler to deliver the early knock out. Jha’Ne hit a three pointer to score the first points of the game. Then she delivered the game’s most exciting play crossing up Ribault’s Kayla Rogers and pulling up for a rainbow jumper over the outstretched arms of Rennia Davis. She can create a shot from any spot on the court which makes her a tremendous asset to a team.


Point Guard- Kitana Stokes (Paxon)

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Stokes is one of the smallest players on the court but she plays like the biggest. A versatile guard who can play point or shooting, she is the perfect hybrid player that a team needs. Kitana stepped into more of a scoring role this year with the departure of many seniors last year, and she has really stepped up.

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Kitana is a general on the court, running the offense and making sure teammates are in the right positions. She has led Paxon back to the conference championship, displaying tenacity on the hardwood. Against Lee, Stokes slashed to the basket with reckless abandon converting layups and drawing fouls. Opponents recognize her importance to the team as Ribault routinely double teamed her,  forcing the ball to other players. It’s a testament to her incredible value on the court. She still managed to lead her team in scoring in the tournament.

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Now before I name my 6th woman let me just reiterate something. This list was very hard to select because there were so many great players I saw over the weekend . Tatyana Mosley from Parker, Keyondra Merritt from Raines, Shalese Ross from Atlantic Coast, Tiana Albert of First Coast, and  Janasia Law-Johnson of Lee are all young women who gave everything out there on the court for their team. But in all honesty this last spot came down to just two people, Kayla Rogers of Ribault and Tykkia Early of Parker.

Rogers in my honest opinion has the potential to be one of the best basketball players to come out of this city. She has an excellent shot from the perimeter, she can drive past any defender to the basket, and she plays extremely aggressive defense. Like many Ribault players, if she were on any other team in the city she would average 20 points a game easily. And college is where you will see her really shine in my opinion. But unfortunately I couldn’t give the last spot to another Trojan in Rogers.


6th Woman – Tykkia Early (Parker)

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This young lady gets the slight nod over Rogers and let me tell you why. Her mental toughness is unlike any other in the tournament that I saw. If you’ve ever played a competitive team sport you know that the 6th man in basketball, or the 3rd down Runningback in football, or the relief pitcher in baseball has to be super smart and extremely tough. They are the ones that provide relief in an effort to close the possession, series or game. Early is certainly that player.

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She was the focus of every opposing defense when the ball was in her hands. And when she didn’t have the ball, players were still responsible for knowing where she was at all times. Her unselfish play allowed teammates to get involved. She finds the open player on the court, and presses the defense in transition and fast breaks. On offense she can score the basketball and on defense she can take it away.

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She was frustrated in the semifinals against Rogers and company, but to be fair Ribault frustrates everyone. I believe that is a badge of honor when the Lady Trojans focus on you to take you out of the gameplan as they also did Stokes. Early does a lot more with a lot less around her and she is one of the main reasons Parker has had one of their best seasons in recent memory.




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