GC Basketball: Saniya Burks leads talented All-Golden Circle teams
May 13—The 2022-23 Golden Circle basketball season produced some incredible moments and some spectacular performances.
Rice junior Saniya Burks was named the GC Girls Player of the Year for the third consecutive season with the most dynamic performance ever in the Golden Circle.
Saniya led all of Texas in girls scoring and was in the Top 10 in the nation. She was a Max Preps All-American, a Class 3A All-State player, and she won her third consecutive 18-3A Player of the Year award and her third straight Kiwanis MVP award.
She averaged 33.3 points a game this season, scoring more than 1,000 points this year and clearing the 2,500-point mark for her three-year career.
She was a leader on offense and defense and a true leader on and off the court for a team that made history at Rice, winning 28 games and making an historic run in the playoffs to the Region title game, where Rice was edged by defending state champ Fairfield, a step away from the state tournament. It was the best basketball playoff performance in the Golden Circle since the 2014 Kerens Lady Cats marched all the way to the state title game.
Saniya was at her best in the biggest games. If you count the District 18-3A title game against Malakoff, Saniya scored 235 points in six post-season showdowns, including some head-shaking performances — averaging 39.1 points a game while being double and triple teamed all night against a brutal lineup of teams in the biggest moments of the season.
In many ways this is arguably one of the most talented pair of All-Golden Circle teams in recent years. Corsicana's Tigers and Lady Tigers, who were led by sophomore Aaliya Mathis, the GC Girls Offensive Player of the Year, showed a ton of improvement and freshman Lady Tiger Naveah Thomas was the GC Newcomer of the Year.
Mildred's Lady Eagles, led by Amy Adams and Kasey Bonner, who each reached the 1,000-point mark in the careers, were not only prolific scorers but they also led Mildred's always stingy defense and were the Co-Defensive Players of the Year.
Rice had a lot of talent to go along with Saniya. Junior Aaliyah Nezar was as clutch and as tough as anyone on the boards and is the Girls GC Rebounder of the Year and Rice junior KK Davis is the GC Girls Sixth Man, coming off the bench with some inspiring moments in Rice's dramatic season.
Blooming Grove's Ava Eldridge was the Hustler of the Year, running the offense at point guard and leading the BG defense with a no-quit energy that made everyone else better.
Rice's Antonio Burks, won his second Girls Coach of the Year award after winning the GC Boys Coach of the Year three times at Rice. He did another incredible job, especially in the Lady Dawgs' playoff run, shocking ranked teams and almost upsetting Fairfield.
The was GC boys season was packed with drama and rising stars. Dawson's Bulldogs raced by everyone in the their district with a fast-paced, all-for-one mentality and ended up in a three-way tie for first for Cole Pemberton, who was named the GC Boys Coach of the Year for the second season in a row with a terrific team that played as one.
Dawson's E'Maree Johnson, a senior, and Blooming Grove senior Timmy Hamilton were named the Boys Co-Players of the Year.
Johnson did a little of everything for Dawson and was the heart of the Bulldogs, who have emerged as a power in the past two seasons. He was a force inside at both ends of the court and so versatile and clutch he even beat Marlin with a 3-pointer at the buzzer in a first-place showdown in the final week of the season.
Hamilton was one of the top defensive players as a shot blocker and rebounder who was a strong scorer and dominate defender for the Lions, who was almost always in the right spot to make a steal, grab a clutch rebound or lift the crowd off its feet with a monster block.
Hubbard junior Kendan Johnson led the Jags in scoring for the third season in a row with huge breakout games, and lifted the young Jags to a berth in the playoffs He is the Boys GC Offensive Player of the Year.
Damarion Kelly stepped up at Corsicana and was the Co-Defensive Player of the Year along with Dawson's Jace Johnson, who was the District's Defensive Player of the Year. Corsicana's Joyrest Sony is the Boys Sixth Man, stepping in as a tough rebounder and a key player on defense for the Tigers.
Blooming Grove's Kegan Hurford is the epitome of the term Hustler of the Year, a non-stop force for the Lions who energized the Lions and the crowd at Blooming Grove. Hastin Easley, a junior who was the leading rebounder in almost every game he played for Dawson, was the GC Boys Rebounder of the Year and Dawson's Elijah Allen was the GC Newcomer of the Year — an honor he won on the All-District team as well.
Here's a list of everyone who made the Golden Circle Teams
GC Girls Basketball
Coach of the Year: Antonio Burks, Rice
Player of the Year: Saniya Burks, Jr., Rice
Offensive Player of the Year: Aaliya Mathis, Soph. Corsicana
Co-Defensive Players of the Year:
Amy Adams, Sr. Mildred
Kasey Bonner. Sr. Mildred
Rebounder of the Year: Aaliyah Nezar, Jr., Rice
Hustler of the Year: Ava Eldridge, Jr., Blooming Grove
Sixth Man: KK Davis, Jr. Rice
Co-Newcomers of the Year
Neveah Thomas, Fr. Corsicana
Brenda Manrriquez, Fr. Frost
ALL GOLDEN CIRCLE GIRLS FIRST TEAM
Arriana Neason, Sr., Mildred
Kami Owens, Jr., Mildred
Brooke McGraw, Soph., Blooming Grove
Grace Cummings, Sr., Hubbard
Callie Marberry, Sr. Dawson
Tiana Hall, Sr., Kerens
Lexi Banks, Sr., Frost
Brynna Banks, Soph., Frost
Bailee Fuller, Sr., Frost
ALL GOLDEN CIRCLE BOYS FIRST TEAM
Lawrence Williams, Corsicana
JJ Betts, Corsicana
Jace Trull, Blooming Grove
Ashton Moore, Mildred
Austin Wing, Mildred
Jake Callahan, Mildred
Muziq Gunnell, Kerens
Kevin Whitworth, Hubbard