During the 2015-16 season, the Hiram Lady Hornets beat teams collectively. One player didn’t just light up the scoreboard or amaze the crowd each time down the court. The Lady Hornets just locked in defensively and scored enough to win.
Amari Price set up the offense. Aliyah Thomas created off the dribble when she had to. Lakerra Partridge connected from 3. Macey McBrayer scored from the elbow down and helped Anicka Cephas on the glass. And Taylor Simmons brought it all together by doing the dirty work.
“I felt her effort on both ends was key,” said Hiram coach Michelle Caldwell of Simmons following a 41-28 win over New Manchester on January 9. “She was working her butt off even rebounding. She was down there getting some offensive rebounds, getting fouled and getting to the free throw line–that helped us pull away a little bit as well.”
This collective effort resulted in an 18-0 region record this past season. Operating under Caldwell’s system, the Lady Hornets limited great individual talents such as New Manchester’s Deesha Brefford, who will play at Joliet in Illinois this fall, and Lithia Springs junior Kiana Johnson.
“We knew Brefford was their best player and the key to their offense so that was a big point of emphasis coming in–to make sure we had a hand up and were in her face all of the time,” Caldwell said.
Now with a 49-1 region record over the past three seasons to reflect upon, this Lady Hornets’ group will play more basketball not just due to their individual talents but their success as a unit.
Price, Cephas and Partridge will all continue playing together at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia. Simmons will play at Chattanooga State (CC) and Thomas will head to Cincinnati State Technical and Community College.
McBrayer plans to suit up for Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta and Daniella Vizcaya will go to East Georgia State College as a preferred walk-on.
“This group is pretty special,” Caldwell said. “We won three regular-season region championships. We’ve gone 49-1 in region play in three years–that is impressive no matter what region you are in or who you are playing. The girls showed a lot of character and took everybody’s best shot every night and they just continued to find ways to win. They made a lot of history here at Hiram. They have changed this program for the better. It will be a long time before you see another group like them.”