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The 2019-20 Catoosa County Girls' Basketball Player of the Year - LFO freshman Christina Collins

Freshmen generally do not make varsity basketball rosters and the ones that do find spots on teams usually watch more action than they participate in it.

However, LFO High School was an exception to that rule this year as several talented rookies, both on the boys’ and on the girls’ varsity teams, not only earned playing time in the 2019-20 campaign, but started and made significant impacts for the Red-and-White.

Some of those freshmen went on to earn postseason nods and another standout newcomer is garnering an award today as Christina Collins has been named as the Catoosa County Girls’ Player of the Year.

Collins put up 17 combined points in her first two varsity games before equaling that total in her third game. From there, she would ride the momentum to an outstanding season.

She introduced herself to Region 6-AAA in her first two games with 30 points against Haralson County and 33 against Coahulla Creek on a night in which she went 14 of 16 at the free throw line. She went on to score in double figures 20 times in 24 games and finished the season with an 18.2 points per game average.

But Collins proved to be much more than just a scorer as she also led the Lady Warriors in rebounds (7.7), assists (2.5) and steals (2.2). A first-team All-Region pick, Collins was also named by the Georgia high school basketball website, sandysspiel.com as a Class 3A All-State honorable mention selection.

“She’s very well-rounded as a person, player and teammate,” LFO head coach Dewayne Watkins said. “She’s a rare player who was asked to take on the responsibility of (being a) primary ball-handler and guarding the other team’s best player on defense and she did an amazing job handling those responsibilities.”

Watkins said he first saw Collins play when she was in the fifth grade and knew she had potential to be an outstanding player. He said her work with her father and uncle, whom he called “two of the best basketball trainers in the southeastern United States” has only sped up her learning curve.

“She has the work ethic and she has great individual training and that’s a recipe for success in our sport,” he added. “She is physically and mentally able to handle the position that she has been placed in and she will only get better in the future.”

That future could include NCAA Division I college basketball, which Watkins said is one of Collins’ goals.

“She’s an excellent student-athlete who displays an extraordinary work ethic on a regular basis and her future is very bright,” he continued. “I have no doubt that (Division I basketball) will happen for her as long as she continues to display the work ethic that she has at this point.”

And with a few years remaining before college, there is still time for Collins and the rest of the up-and-coming Lady Warriors to achieve plenty of on-court success.

“They have a chance to make history together in the future,” he added. “If they work hard, we can compete for region championships and possibly state championships in the future. I am always optimistic, but this is a group that warrants the optimism.”

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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