Originally created 12/02/99

Guards point the way for area schools



Playing point guard seems to be the easiest position on the basketball team. Dribble up court, find the open player or penetrate to the basket.

How simple is that?

But add a calm demeanor under intense pressure and the necessary leadership qualities and the position becomes the sport's quarterback role.

"It's a very important position," Josey junior guard Michelle Drumgold said. "It's the most important position on the floor. That's where most of the scoring gets done."

"If a player is not in the right place, you have to tell them where to get," said Laney senior point guard Ernesia Wideman. "You have to take this position very seriously."

This season, guards such as Drumgold, Wideman and Hephzibah senior Jennifer East are keys as their teams seek region titles and state tournament berths.

It's no different on the boys side. If teams like Josey, Thomson, Washington-Wilkes, Warren County and Lincoln County are going to be successful, it all starts at the guard position. Cornelius Mitchell of Josey, Thomson's Vinson Winfrey, Marvin Gaye of Washington-Wilkes, Warren County's Antonio Bolton and Torri Zellars of Lincoln County have to take control of their team and make the right decisions.

They all follow in the footsteps of some great Augusta-area point guard products. William Avery (Westside) and Vonteego Cummings (Thomson) are NBA rookies with Minnesota and Golden State, respectively. Ricky Moore (Westside) is a rookie reserve with the Continental Basketball Association's Connecticut Pride. Ty Shine (Richmond Academy) is a part-time starter at Seton Hall, and Fredie Williams (Evans) has signed to play at Texas next year out of junior college. Sherika Wright (Josey) just signed with Ole Miss out of junior college and Brandi Hicks (Hephzibah) is a reserve for UNC Charlotte.

No position was more critical during Hephzibah's run to the Class AAAA girls Final Four last season than East's play at guard. Her exceptional ball-handling and ability to hit perimeter shots was a big reason for the Lady Rebels' success.

"Everybody (on the floor) is looking at you," East said. "They all look to you to lead them to victory. That's why (guard play) is so important."

The Georgia-Carolina area boasts some of the top guard in both boys and girls play, public school and private school.

Harlem and Jefferson County are putting a lot of stock in the play of their guards, Brooke Moore and Taliah Roberts. In South Carolina, North Augusta's Pam Butler, Silver Bluff's Lakisha Bates and Wagener-Salley's Sunshine Cannon, all guards, will play critical roles in their team's success.

In boys private schools, Brentwood's Brad Davis, Briarwood's Keith Johnson and Wardlaw's Ryan Molony will be heavily depended on at guard this season. In girls private schools, three-year starter and Auburn signee Nancy Derrick plays her final year of high school basketball while sisters Kena and Micole Veal combine to give Brentwood a deadly combination at guard.

It's a great year to be a guard.

Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216.