Five Cherokee County basketball players earned all-metro honors from the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Friday.
River Ridge’s Mataya Gayle topped the list as the Girls Metro Player of the Year after leading the Knights to the Class AAAAAA state championship. Gayle averaged 17.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game.
Gayle, who scored 25 points in River Ridge’s 68-50 win over Lovejoy in the state title game, is committed to play in the Ivy League at Penn next season.
“(It was) like a dream ending,” Gayle said after the championship win. “Finally, my senior year, making it to the championship and then winning it — I am so proud of these girls. Coach (Jason) Taylor told me I had to be a leader and support these girls.”
Cherokee’s Toni Warren, Sequoyah’s Elle Blatchford and Woodstock’s Karson Martin were honorable mentions.
Warren had a great 2022-23 season, taking the leap to the Warriors’ lead threat on offense and committing to Wofford. She scored 41 points in Cherokee’s 90-67 first-round playoff win over West Forsyth, breaking the single-game team record for points scored.
Blatchford led Sequoyah to another Class AAAAAA state playoff appearance, pacing the offense at 17.7 points per game, along with 4.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists. She scored 25 points against Douglas County in the first round of the playoffs and followed with 17 points in a second-round win over North Forsyth.
Martin scored 19.7 points per game as a senior and led Woodstock back to the playoffs. She was a big reason the Wolverines recovered from their 1-7 start and went 9-4 against Region 6AAAAAA opponents to qualify for the postseason.
In Woodstock’s first-round playoff matchup against Gainesville, Martin erupted for 28 points and nine rebounds, though the Wolverines fell 63-61 in the final seconds.
“Karson was amazing,” Woodstock coach Regina Tate-Leslie said after the loss. “She finished her season, and she peaked. She is ready for the next level. I am very proud of her. She’s had a great career. She did everything she could.”
On the boys side, Etowah’s Brandon Rechsteiner and Cherokee’s Tayden Owens earned honorable mention nods.
Rechsteiner, a Virginia Tech commit, led Etowah to the Class AAAAAA semifinals after hitting a late free-throw to beat St. Pius X and second-team all-metro honoree Spencer Elliott. He finished that game with 21 points and scored 15 points in a 56-53 semifinal loss to Alexander.
Owens was a vital part of Cherokee’s playoff run, which included the Warriors making the state championship game for the first time since 1982. He finished with 10 points and a go-ahead 3-pointer in a quarterfinal win over Carrollton.
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