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Basketball skills

By FRANK PASTOR and CAREY FREEMAN
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 6, 2002

Okay, we knew Hernando senior and Florida signee Bernice Mosby was the top player in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and among the best in the state.

But who knew the 6-foot-1 center/forward's skills were so varied?

The Times recently asked conference coaches to rate the best players in each of 18 skill categories, and Mosby was named in eight, topping seven.

Citrus' Katie Steelfox and Crystal River's Casandra Vega also were multiple winners.

Here are the results:

BEST CLUTCH SHOOTER

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

The Leopards haven't had many close games, with their 10 wins coming by an average of 19.2 points. But Mosby has been best when the stakes are the highest, averaging 26.4 points against district foes, including 29 in two victories over Citrus. "Whenever it gets tough, she can just reach to another level," Hurricanes coach Bruce Nelson said.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Katie Steelfox, Citrus; Samantha Downing, Central.

BEST FREE-THROW SHOOTER

KATIE STEELFOX; Citrus

A deft shooter and ball-handler, Steelfox leads the 'Canes with a 62-percent average at the line.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Jessica Larocco, Springstead; Bernice Mosby, Hernando; Sharesa Scott, Central; Nanci Thomas, Lecanto.

BEST 3-POINT SHOOTER

ELLEN WIDBOOM; Hernando

Widboom has made 14 of 59 3-point attempts, good for 23.7 percent. She converted from behind the arc in seven of her 10 games, making four of nine against South Sumter and four of 10 against Dunnellon.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Alycia LePage, Citrus; Katie Steelfox, Citrus.

BEST REBOUNDER

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

Mosby, a unanimous selection, is in a class of her own. She averages 14.4 rebounds, grabbing 24 against Jacksonville Sandalwood, 21 against Citrus and 20 in a second game against the Hurricanes.

OTHERS MENTIONED: None.

BEST DEFENDER

CASANDRA VEGA; Crystal River

Coaches liked Vega's 56 steals in 14 games, but an equal case could be made for Central's Thalia Tatham, who had 62 in 13.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Sharesa Scott, Central; Myesha Hollis, Citrus.

BEST SHOT-BLOCKER

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

Again, nobody else comes close. Mosby has more blocked shots (42) than most players have rebounds. She averages three. Mosby had eight against Sandlewood and five against Williston and Pasco.

OTHERS MENTIONED: None.

BEST PRESS-BREAKER

CASANDRA VEGA; Crystal River

According to coach Norris Lightsey, Vega's "flat-out speed" and the fact she can "handle the ball with either hand at high gear" are what sets her apart against pressing defenses.

OTHERS MENTIONED: None.

BEST BALL-HANDLER

KATIE STEELFOX; Citrus

"She's left handed but goes equally well to her right," Nelson said. "When she gets into pressure, she finds a way to dribble or pass out of it, and she has incredible vision."

OTHERS MENTIONED: Alycia LePage, Citrus; Sharesa Scott, Central.

BEST PASSER

SHARESA SCOTT; Central

Lecanto coach Ron Allan and Crystal River's Lightsey didn't catch her name, but they got her number: 10. Scott's 45 assists (3.5 per game) are tops in Hernando County.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Katie Steelfox, Citrus; Alycia LePage, Citrus.

BEST AT CREATING SHOT

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

Mosby didn't become the conference's leading scorer (28.6 points per game) by accident. She puts herself into position to score, then takes advantage of an outstanding drop step. "She gets it inside, and it doesn't matter if there are two or three (defenders)," Hernando coach Pete Lahey said. "She'll fake one way, then go the other."

OTHERS MENTIONED: Casandra Vega, Crystal River.

QUICKEST HANDS

ALYCIA LEPAGE; Citrus

How quick is LePage? Quick enough to grab a team-leading 65 steals in 13 games.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Myesha Hollis, Citrus; Sharesa Scott, Central; Ellen Widboom, Hernando; Tamara Tatham, Central.

QUICKEST FEET

MYESHA HOLLIS; Citrus

A superb athlete, Hollis is the Hurricanes' best on-the-ball defender "by far," said Nelson.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Casandra Vega, Crystal River; Sharesa Scott, Central; Ellen Widboom, Hernando; Tamara Tatham, Central.

BEST AT MOVING WITHOUT BALL

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

Each coach had a favorite in this category, but it's impossible to overlook Mosby's ability to create open looks for herself even as Hernando moves her around in its ever-changing offense.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Jen Adams, Central; Kate Wheeler, Lecanto; Alycia LePage, Citrus; Tamara Tatham, Central.

ALWAYS IN POSITION

BERNICE MOSBY; Hernando

Who else? Whether it's putting herself in position to score or knowing which way to go to grab a rebound, nobody knows her way around a court better than Mosby.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Mindi Robbins, Springstead; Jen Adams, Central.

BEST BENCH PLAYER

SAMANTHA DOWNING; Central

How many players come off the bench to lead their team in scoring? The answer: One. Downing averages 10.3 points and has the third-best field-goal percentage (36) among the Bears' regulars.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Nicole Parsons, Citrus; Amber Clark, Crystal River; Mary Ann Emberley, Lecanto.

BEST SCREEN-SETTER

LECANTO

"Lecanto screens well as a team," Central coach Lori Lessley said. Citrus' Nelson agreed. Since they couldn't single out a particular player, we awarded this category to the whole squad.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Katie Steelfox, Citrus; Thalia Tatham, Central; Jen Adams, Central; Samantha Downing, Central; Kelly McKinley, Crystal River.

BEST CONDITIONED PLAYER

CASANDRA VEGA; Crystal River

Vega averages 28-30 minutes and is the Pirates' leading scorer. What else do you want?

OTHERS MENTIONED: Jessica Larocco, Springstead; Ellen Widboom, Hernando; Tamara Tatham, Central; Myesha Hollis, Citrus.

BEST ON-COURT LEADER

KYLENE COLASANTI; Lecanto

KATIE STEELFOX; Citrus

This one's too close to call. On-court smarts, maturity and leadership separate Colasanti and Steelfox from the pack.

OTHERS MENTIONED: Bernice Mosby, Hernando; Dana Natale, Springstead.

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