Brikayla Gray says it takes a passion for the game to reach specific goals on the court. Looking back on the 2018-2019 West Jones girls basketball season, there were a lot of goals – individually and collectively – met, despite falling short in the Class 5A state title game for a second year straight. It was the only loss Gray, and the Lady Mustangs suffered on the season. West Jones finished with an impressive 29-1 record.
“We accomplished many goals,” said Gray. “We won district, which was our first goal to reach. I felt like we accomplished other goals by getting by the first two rounds and making it back to the championship again. Even though we didn’t win it, [we made it]. That will be our goal for the next season.”
Individually, Gray set out to accomplished her own goals too.
“My goal was to get better [dribbling] with my left hand,” Gray said. “Actually both hands. I wanted to be able to dribble the ball better. I wanted to improve my free throw percentage [too]. It wasn’t as good as I’d like, but towards the end of the year, it got better. Next year I hope to keep it good throughout the year.”
Gray led the Lady Mustangs in points-per-game, field goal percentage (both two-point and three-point baskets), rebounds and steals. The junior guard scored an average of 17.2 points-per-game, shooting 56 percent from the floor on two-point baskets and 38 percent behind the arch. Her 204 rebounds and 70 steals were also a team best.
“She brings a strong work ethic,” said West Jones girls head coach Sharon Murray. “You can always depend on her. When no one else wants to practice, she’s going to bring the energy and work ethic. Everybody talks about how hard they work, but with Brikayla you can see it.
“She has a great attitude and personality. She is easy to coach. I say she’s every coaches dream. She’s dependable, and she comes ready to work. She makes everyone around her better.”
She easily stood out, even though West Jones had other key contributors. The Lady Mustangs had two others, Jurnee McLaurin and Briana Carr, who finished in double-digit figures and a third, Mia Moore, who finished with 9.1 points per game. All three were seniors.
When Gray talks about basketball, she always mentions the future. This past year seems to be a distant memory. It’s the future that Gray puts her focus on now that the 2018-2019 season has faded. Murray looks ahead too, and for a good reason – Gray has another year in Soso left.
“It’s a nice feeling,” said Murray when asked about Gray returning. “We’re losing a good bit of seniors so [it’s good to know] she’s coming back.
“She’ll have to lead us next season. We’re going to be young next year, and we’ll need her to help us with them. She’ll get to leave a good impact on them. They’ll gravitate toward her work ethic.”
Gray is our Sport601 Powerade Girls Basketball Player of the Year.