O’Neill leads the more experienced Southside girls
Posted on Friday, November 25, 2022 at 4:16 pm
Ka’Naya O’Neal is approaching several individual milestones as she begins her senior year at Southside, and her teammates may be experienced enough to make it a memorable one for the team.
O’Neal, a 5-foot-9 guard, was asked to do almost everything on the floor during her time as a Seahawk, and she delivered in spectacular fashion.
Last year, she averaged 32 points, 13 rebounds and five steals per game as Southside went 13-8, losing to Woods Charter in the first round of the 1A playoffs.
If she stays healthy, O’Neal could put up over 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 300 steals in her career.
The team advanced to the second round of the state tournament as a freshman, the third round as a sophomore and the second round last year. All five starters return, so she will have more experienced teammates for the first time.
“We look good on paper, but we still have to come out and do it,” coach Milton Ruffin said. “We should be in the conference championship conversation, but our sophomores need to continue the improvement they showed at the end of last year.”
Ruffin is counting on sophomores I’kiria Minor, Kylia Moore, Tamiya Smith and junior De’Naj Warren to take some of the load off O’Neal.
“We’ve asked her to do a lot in her first three years, and she can’t beat an opponent all by herself,” Ruffin said. “She’s been a great leader for us, and she sets the bar high in practice, so others improve by trying to keep up with her. Ka’Naya really wants to win and is doing whatever it takes to help us do it.”
Senior Rhys Cutler, junior Riley Homberg and sophomore Lily McLean will come off the bench to give the Seahawks more experienced depth.
“The younger players make better shots and make better decisions in practice,” Ruffin said. “Ka’Nai’s basketball IQ is excellent, she sees the floor very well and knows where everyone needs to be. We plan to make it an interesting year to watch.”
Southside opens Wednesday at Mattamuskeet