All Area: Columbia backcourt anchors big school girls

The Columbia (Lake City) girls basketball team won a district title this season thanks to the play of its two guards—Na’Haviya Paxton and Anzarria Jerkins.

The Lady Tigers (13-7) landed both players on the Mainstreet Daily News/The Prep Zone big school All Area Girls Basketball Team.

There may not have been a better player in the area than Paxton.

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The junior finished with five triple-doubles, including one quadruple-double, and 12 double-doubles this season for the Tigers, who lost to Navarre in the Class 6A-Region 1 quarterfinals.

Her backcourt mate, Jerkins, averaged 13.8 points, 5.8 steals, 4.6 rebounds and two assists per game, including a season-high 27 points in a win against Suwannee (Live Oak).

“Those two ladies are a dynamic duo together on the court and have held down the backcourt for us together since they have been freshmen,” said Columbia coach Anthony Perry, who led the Tigers to their third straight postseason appearance. “Na’Haviya brings her ‘A’ game day in and day out on offense and Anzarria brings her ‘A’ game day in and day out of defense. When they are put together, we have one heck of an offensive and defensive collaboration that will disrupt any opponent that we are facing.”

Paxton, who scored her 1,000th point this past season, scored 45 points in the district semifinals to clinch a spot in the postseason for Columbia. She averaged 24.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 5.8 steals per game. She finished third in the voting for the Florida Dairy Farmers’ Class 6A Player of the Year.

“Na’Haviya is our MVP because we know without a doubt that she will put in overtime working to be better,” Perry said. “Her work ethic is unmatched, and it shows on the court. Her numbers are a direct reflection of the work that she puts into being a great player. Her numbers in the classroom also match the effort she puts on the court as she maintains a 3.8 GPA.”

Leyah Houston of Gainesville and Sara Foster of Bradford (Starke) make up the first team front court.

Houston just missed averaging a double-double. The 5-foot-11-inch sophomore finished with 20.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for the Hurricanes, who lost to top seed Columbia in the Class 6A-District 2 semifinals. She also led the team with 2.3 steals per game.g

“Houston is an all-around player,” said GHS coach David Gordon, whose team defeated Chiles (Tallahassee) in the district quarterfinals. “She has so much talent and basketball understanding. Leyah will fight to the end and give you everything she has to complete the task.”

Foster averaged 9.3 points and 7.8 rebounds for Bradford (12-11), which finished as 4A-District 5 runners-up and lost at The Villages in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

The senior had a season-high 19 points against Baker County (Glen St. Mary), including a 7-for-7 shooting night. She was perfect from the floor in 14 games this season.

“Sara Foster is the epitome of hard work, dedication, determination, and leadership on the basketball court,” said Tornadoes’ coach Kelton Givens. “There wasn’t one time in the season that I couldn’t look to Sara for whatever I needed. Whether it was leadership for the other players or a big bucket on the court, Sara is who I called upon.”

Suwannee (Live Oak) center Montayasia Jones, who had a season-high 29 points and 33 rebounds in two different games this season, rounds out the first team.

The senior averaged a double-double for the Bulldogs with 14.4 points and a whopping 16.5 rebounds per game. She also averaged 2.6 blocks per game.

Jasmine Harkness of Buchholz (Gainesville) highlights the second team. The senior averaged 9.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.8 steals per game for the Lady Bobcats, who advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2014.

She is joined in the backcourt by junior Seiiona Peeples of Eastside (Gainesville). “Sese” just missed the first team after averaging 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.6 steals per game.

Teammate Janeil Allen, a junior, is one of the forwards on the second team after averaging 7.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game for the 6-12 Lady Rams.

Keystone Heights guard Kiley Channell (10.9 ppg/5.2 spg) and GHS forward/center Ta’Niya Walker (5.2 ppgs/8.8 rpg) complete the second team All Area selections.

This is the second in a five-part series unveiling the 2021 All Area Basketball Team, presented by Mainstreet Daily News and The Prep Zone. To read yesterday’s story on the small school girls, click here. Tomorrow: the small school boys. 

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