Hawthorne, Newberry top small school All Area teams

Hawthorne's De'Mya Adams (left) and Newberry's Brandy Whitfield were among the top small school girls basketball players in 2023.
Graphic by Seth Johnson / Photos by C.J. Gish
Go to our All Area girls basketball team landing page by clicking here. Go to our All Area boys basketball team landing page by clicking here.

The 2022-23 girls high school basketball season was a memorable one for at least one area team, which brought home a state championship to Alachua County.

Senior forward Jaz’lyn Jackson and sophomore guard De’mya Adams, who helped lead Hawthorne to the Class 1A state title, highlight the 2023 Bosshardt Realty All Area Girls Basketball first team for the small schools (1A and 2A).

A panel of local sportswriters and coaches chose the All Area teams from Mainstreet’s eight-county coverage area. All 44 players and coaches will receive commemorative plaques to recognize their accomplishments.

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Jackson was second on the team with 16.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, averaging a double-double for the 15-5 Hornets, who won their second state title in the past four seasons. She also led the team with 4.8 steals.

Hawthorne's Jaz’lyn Jackson recently surpassed the 1,000-point mark for the Hornets.
Photo by C.J. Gish Hawthorne’s Jaz’lyn Jackson averaged 16.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game in 2022-23.

Adams finished with a team-leading 18.8 points per game and added 4.0 assists and 4.6 steals.

Jackson and Adams both finished second and third, respectively, for the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 1A Player of the Year.

“Jaz had some great plays down the stretch and of course Mya on the perimeter was great,” said Hawthorne coach Cornelius Ingram.

Adams’ coming out party, if you will, was a career-high 41 points in the regional final against Newberry.

She added 20 points, five assists and six rebounds in the state semifinals against defending state champion Ponce De Leon, and 18 points and six steals in the state championship game against top-ranked Wildwood.

Jackson’s sister, Jhalea, made the second team.

The sophomore F/C just missed averaging a double-double (9.3 ppg/12 rpg). She scored 10 points, grabbed 17 rebounds, and blocked four shots in the title game.

Sophomore Nyima Gillyard of Trenton joined the first team after helping lead the Tigers (18-12) to a regional final appearance. She led the team in scoring (15.9 points) and field goal percentage (48%), while finishing third in rebounds (5.1) and steals (2.2).

“This was Nyima’s first year at the forward position and she ended up being our leading scorer and a big part of our offense this season,” said Trenton coach Lynsey Grant. “She works hard and she wants the ball in her hands, she wants to make plays.”

Newberry, which lost to Hawthorne in the 1A-District 6 championship game and the Region 3 Final, had two selections as freshman guard Brandy Whitfield was named to the first team and senior forward Deasia Bryant made the second team.

Whitfield led the team in scoring (15.2 points), field goal percentage (40%), and steals (3.7).

Photo by C.J. Gish Oak Hall’s Bella Dyrkolbotn averaged 11.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the Eagles.

“She is that player I call ‘Flash’ because she will dribble fast by you, her hands are so fast when she steals the ball,” said Newberry coach Dameon Hughes. “If you leave her open near that 3-point line she will make you pay. Brandy is that player that can be cold in the first half, but in the second half she will end up with 23 points.”

Bryant averaged 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds for Newberry, which won 20 or more games this year for the first time since 2012.

“She is the type of player can do it all,” Hughes said. “Deasia can shoot from the outside or she can drive to make a layup. She is also a great passer. Deasia was our glue that brought things together. When we needed something, she gave it to us.”

Oak Hall, which advanced to the Class 2A regional semifinals, also had one player on the first team (junior forward Bella Dyrkolbotn) and one on the second team (senior guard Kate Pickens).

Dyrkolbotn averaged 11.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, including a game-high 21 points against North Florida Educational Institute (Jacksonville) in the season finale.

“This was Bella’s best season so far,” said long-time Oak Hall coach Eric Ringdahl, who announced his retirement at the end of this past year. “She has some great post moves and was a dominant force in the paint. She uses her quickness to beat her opponents to the baskets and Bella uses her speed to beat the other team down the floor. She took the ball coast to coast a few times for scores.”

Pickens, who has played on the varsity since her sixth-grade season, led the 2A-District 4 champion Eagles (16-8) in scoring, assists, and steals (13.4 ppg/3.3 apg/3.2 spg).

“I thought Kate took a huge step forward this season,” Ringdahl said. “She really improved her shot (73% from the FT Line), took on the ball handling responsibility and became a consistent scorer. She made some really big shots this season. She helped fill the scoring void left by graduated seniors Tyla Young and AnnaBeth Dyrkolbotn. We will certainly miss her ‘floor generalship.’”

Williston's Ranajala Brown scored 16.7 points and had 3.2 steals per game for the Red Devils.
Photo by C.J. Gish Williston’s Ranajala Brown scored 16.7 points and had 3.2 steals per game for the Red Devils.

Also named to the second team were senior guard Ranajala “Tiny” Brown of Williston and sophomore guard Samantha Keith of Countryside Christian.

Brown led Williston to a Class 1A playoff appearance by leading the Red Devils in points (16.7) and steals (3.2). She was second in field goal percentage (48%) and led the team in 3-point field goal percentage (31%).

Keith, who scored her 1,000th point in the 2A-District 4 quarterfinals against Redeemer Christian (Ocala), led the Minutemen in scoring (15.3) and rebounds (4.2). She was second on the team with 45 steals.

GIRLS – SMALL SCHOOL (1A-2A) (1st Team)

G – De’Mya Adams, Hawthorne (Sophomore)

G – Brandy Whitfield, Newberry (Freshman)

F – Nyima Gillyard, Trenton (Sophomore)

F/C – Jaz’lyn Jackson, Hawthorne (Senior)

F/C – Bella Dyrkolbotn, Oak Hall (Junior)

GIRLS – SMALL SCHOOL (1A-2A) (2nd Team)

G – Ranajala Brown, Williston (Senior)

G – Kate Pickens, Oak Hall (Senior)

G/F – Samantha Keith, Countryside Christian (Sophomore)

F/C – Deasia Bryant, Newberry (Senior)

F/C – Jhalea Jackson, Hawthorne (Sophomore)


Bell – Madison Smith (So., G/F)

Branford – Zjamyah Wilson (So., G), Cloey Criggall (So., G), Keara Hunt (F, Fr.) 

Bronson – Andrea Schuler (8th)

Chiefland – Brianna Bell (Fr., G/F), Ryleigh Locke (So., F/C)

Countryside Christian – Meleaya Granger (Sr., G)

Dixie County – Jaidyn Brown (Fr., F), Natasha Davis (Sr., G)

Fort White – N’Coreyia Atkins (Jr., G), Isreal Hart (So., F)

Newberry – Sarah Beaulieu (So., G), Natreana Akanni (Jr., F)

St. Francis Catholic Academy – Allie Dey (Fr., G/F), Alexandra Bhatia (Jr., G)

Trenton – Chloe Wilkerson (Sr., F), Koi Perry (So., G)

Williston – Acaci Haynes (Sr., G/F)

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