Player of the Year: Williams has will to prosper for Cherokee
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
March 23, 2013 12:42 AM | 2271 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aunesha Williams
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull
Aunesha Williams
Staff photo by Todd Hull
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CANTON — As a sophomore, Aunesha Williams was a key part of the Cherokee basketball team when it finished 18-11 and reached the first round of the state tournament.

When the season ended, Williams was named an honorable mention on the Cherokee Tribune all-county team, but knew she could do better.

Williams focused on improving her game during the offseason and applied herself when she competed with her travel team. She set goals like winning the Region 5AAAAAA title and advancing to at least the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs.

“It motivated me to do better,” Williams said.

After a standout performance this season, Williams checked off each of her goals.

She increased her averages to 14 points and 11 rebounds per game, while also making 3.5 steals per game. Williams also garnered Region 5AAAAAA player of the year honors as she led her team to a 29-2 record and the region title. The Lady Warriors also reached the state quarterfinals before falling to eventual champion Norcross.

For all of her achievements this season, Williams is the 2012-13 Cherokee Tribune Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

The honor was not lost on the junior.

“It’s pretty crazy,” she said, “but I worked really hard to get here.”

Williams said she wasn’t surprised that the team reached the goals she had set.

“We worked hard during the preseason,” she said. “I knew that all of our work would pay off.”

Williams said that playing travel basketball has made her a better player. She was teammates with Norcross’ Shayla Cooper and Diamond DeShields — signees to Georgetown and North Carolina, respectively — as well as some of the best players in the country.

“It motivates me to be like them,” she said.

Thus far, Williams has received scholarship offers from N.C. State, Georgetown, Miami and Georgia. She said it is her goal to make her commitment by the end of the summer, so that some of the pressure is gone before she players her senior season with Cherokee.

Williams said she got serious about basketball in the seventh grade, and she hopes to play the sport as long as she can, and at the highest level that she can.

“I watched Skylar Diggins and all the other good players and got serious about it,” Williams said.

She wasn’t alone in her love of the game. Her mother played basketball, and her twin sister, Audrisha, is on the team as well.

Aunesha Williams said her sister pushes her to be better.

“It’s so much fun playing with her,” Williams said. “I wouldn’t be able to play without her. It’s so much fun. We challenge each other all the time and make each other better. We have always been like that.”

Williams, who scored 29 points and grabbed 26 rebounds in a state playoff victory over North Forsyth, said that Cherokee’s achievements mean more to her than the individual marks. She said the highlight of her season was winning the region championship.

“I never felt like I had to carry the team,” Williams said. “Some games, it was me that carried the team, and, some games, it was another player, but I never felt a lot of pressure. We just played as a team. We all had our days.”

Cherokee coach Matt Cates said Williams deserves off all of accolades she has received and will likely earn more in the future.

During the season, Cates said Williams’ talent was still very raw and that she had a lot of potential. And while he said that Williams came a long way this year, Cates will be looking for even more.

“She is talented,” Cates said. “She deserves everything she gets and probably then some.”
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