WARRENTON, Ga. — It was time to run.
When Briarwood girls basketball coach Keith Johnson heard he would get Grovetown transfer Malia Kency for the upcoming season, he knew it was time to play at a faster tempo. With Kency’s scoring and passing ability as the point guard, the Lady Bucs had a dynamic playmaker.
In her first season at Briarwood, the junior guard averaged 21.7 points, 7.1 assists and 4.8 steals per game, helping the Lady Bucs win 23 games and reach the second round of the GISA Class AA state tournament. With that immediate success, Kency is The Augusta Chronicle’s Independent Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“When you’ve got a great player like her, you don’t want to see her without the ball a ton,” Johnson said. “With her, you just go.”
Kency and post player Tiffany Pate had a strong connection. As AAU teammates, the duo know the other’s abilities. At Briarwood, Pate wins the rebounding battle – she grabbed 15.3 a game – and can either go up with a putback or kick out to Kency, who had more than 60 3-pointers this season.
The 5-foot-5 guard decided to transfer to Briarwood mostly because of the smaller environment. Besides the more personable atmosphere, the one-on-one help academically was a major plus.
On the court, there wasn’t much of a transition. Though there is more depth and players are more likely to play year-round basketball at public school, there is still talent in the private ranks.
“I have help here, but because I was new, I had to step up more and be a leader,” Kency said. “So I ended up scoring more and doing more than I did at Grovetown.”
With another high school year to go, Kency has one more season to go for a state title. Now that her teammates are used to her no-look passes and open style, Johnson expects good results.
“I haven’t seen too many high school point guards as good as she is,” Johnson said. “You just want the ball in her hands.”