For three seasons, its been the Kahlia Lawrence show at Kendrick High.
Shes broken the schools season scoring record in each of her three seasons with the team and this year, as a senior, surpassed its all-time scoring record. She is the main reason the Lady Cherokees are playing in Fridays Class AA state championship game against Wesleyan.
But she isnt the only reason.
All year, coach Sterling Hicks has stressed that his teams success comes down to more than just Lawrence, even if her 26.2 points per game is the biggest contribution. He wants the best team, he said, not just the best player.
Lawrence likely will be the best player in Fridays game, but in order to knock off Wesleyan, winner of six straight state titles, the players following her lead will be just as important.
Senior Deja Cheatham
An ailing Cheatham has nonetheless been an important piece to the puzzle for this seasons Lady Cherokees. Playing with a knee injury, Cheatham has been at about 60 percent, according to Hicks. But Cheatham at 60 percent is as good as most others at 100.
She gives us an inside presence, Hicks said. She can score the ball inside, and shes experienced. Shes played in big games.
Her ability to fight through the injury throughout the playoffs leads Hicks to call her one of the most mentally tough players hes got.
Lawrence describes Cheatham, who averages just over 14 points per game, as her right-hand man.
Were not a big team, Lawrence said. She gives us someone down low. And shes going to give everything shes got no matter what. Shes going to leave it on the floor.
Even with the bumps and bruises, shes still the player to rely on inside.
Im still the interior presence, she said on Wednesday. I do whatever I can.
Senior Donivan Dyson
When Cheatham got hurt earlier in the season, she was averaging around 18 points per game. Without her, Hicks needed the team to find points in some other places.
One player he turned to was Dyson.
Dyson averages a modest 5.5 points per game, but its likely the team would have lost two games ago without her contributions on offense. With Lawrence on the bench after fouling out in the fourth quarter, Dyson scored 10 of her 12 points to help Kendrick to a 65-62 victory.
Shes stepped up, Hicks said. I challenged her when (Cheatham) got hurt. We needed someone to fill the shoes. Theyve all stepped up.
Lawrence said Dyson has really started to fit into the teams chemistry down the stretch and will be a key figure in the game on Friday.
Sophomore Brittany Thompson
Thompson has been called upon to run the point for the Lady Cherokees, and Lawrence said shes growing into the role. She is third on the team in scoring at 8.7 points per game and first in assists at about three per game.
When Lawrence is on the bench getting a breather, Thompson is the one with the ball in her hands, calling the shots.
Shes one who wants to play at a high level every year here, Lawrence said. Shes growing. I think shes going to be great. Im real proud of her.
Junior Margarnique McKissic
Hicks described McKissic as one of the teams shooters. While she, too, is battling a number of ailments, Hicks said she wont let him sit her during games.
Shes still practicing every day, he said. Shes going hard. Thats all she knows to do. She can do a lot for us. She gets steals and can shoot the basketball.
Averaging eight points per game, Lawrence said McKissic is one who they can rely on in any situation.
No matter what it is, shes going to help, she said. Coach is always trying to get her to shoot more, because she can.
Junior Taylor Farley
Hicks called her aggressive. Lawrence called her intense. On defense, she can be the teams heart and soul.
Shes the most aggressive player weve got, Lawrence said. She goes hard day in and day out. She brings that aggressiveness to the defense, which is where we score are points.
Farley averages 3.7 steals and 8.3 points per game.
She has the skill to get to the basket, too, Hicks said. She gets a lot of her points off of turnovers.
Those five girls, in addition to Lawrence, are just a portion of who contributes for the Lady Cherokees. Hicks regularly plays 11 or 12 girls each game. Playing at the speed Kendrick does, its necessary to preserve the players energy throughout the game.
Hicks stressed his point again:
We cant be a one-player show, he said.