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All-Metro girls: Palmer, Gaines helped bring regional titles back to Wilkinson Co.

Wilkinson County High School basketball coach Trimeka Gaines, left, and senior player Lineasia Palmer  have been named  the All-Metro girls coach and player of the year. Gaines and Palmer led the Lady Wildcats to an 8-2 record in Region 3-3A and a regional championship, as well as a regional tournament championship, this past season. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Wilkinson County High School basketball coach Trimeka Gaines, left, and senior player Lineasia Palmer have been named the All-Metro girls coach and player of the year. Gaines and Palmer led the Lady Wildcats to an 8-2 record in Region 3-3A and a regional championship, as well as a regional tournament championship, this past season. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

WOODVILLE — It would probably be a better question to ask what Lineasia Palmer can’t do on the basketball court.

The Wilkinson County High School junior split time between being a center, forward and guard for the Lady Wildcats this past season. Despite not focusing on one position, Palmer still managed 20.8 points per game, eight rebounds per game, 6.6 assists per game and 2.2 steals per game. She was also selected to play in the Mississippi Sports Medicine North-South All-Star game.

In the process, Wilkinson County, led by fourth-year head coach Trimeka Gaines, went 12-14 overall, including an 8-2 run in MHSAA Region 3-3A with a regional title and a region tournament championship.

Because of Palmer’s individual accolades and Gaines’ accomplishments with her team this season, the Lady Wildcat duo was named All-Metro player and coach of the year for girls basketball.

“I knew I had to step up (this season), and I knew I had the ability to step up,” Palmer said. “As the season went on, I knew I had to play a big role.”

Wilkinson County High School's Lineasia Palmer was selected as 2012-13 All-Metro girls player of the year. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Wilkinson County High School’s Lineasia Palmer was selected as 2012-13 All-Metro girls player of the year. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Gaines said in her four years coaching Palmer that she’s enjoyed watching her all-purpose athlete grow as a player — and as a person.

“In the past, she didn’t see the leadership ability in herself,” Gaines said. “This year, she bought in and carried the team. She bought in from day one. No matter where I needed her, she could play that position.”

Palmer said it wasn’t easy shifting around the court instead of having one set position.

“It was hard, because I wasn’t all the way in shape, but if we needed it, I had to do it,” Palmer said. “I think I did fairly well.”

Gaines also pointed out how unselfish Palmer was throughout the season.

“Sometimes she didn’t have but 15 points in a game, because she played the role of passer to get other teammates involved,” Palmer said.

Leading her fellow teammates was also a focal point for Palmer this season, and Palmer said she tried to set an example not just in games, but in practice.

“You have to go hard in practice and do everything right so others will follow,” Palmer said. “I try to give encouraging words. If the players get down, I tell them to do better.”

Gaines said she was a little unsure of things when the season began, but her girls began buying in after their first regional game — a loss to Hazlehurst.

“We came together and had to find out what to do in order to win district,” Gaines said. “After that, we lost to Crystal Springs, then we won eight straight.”

Palmer said she enjoys playing for Gaines, and that Gaines always pushes her every day they work together.

“She always stays on me and tells me that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,” Palmer said. “That means if I don’t work hard, then I’m a wasted talent.”

Winning not only a regional title in the regular season, but also a regional tournament championship, was a big deal for Gaines personally, especially since she’s a 1999 graduate of the school.

“It hadn’t been done in a while, and it’s a big thing for our community, because our athletic program has not been at the forefront of our community (of late),” Gaines said. “It’s great to bring a title to Wilkjnson County. It’s a great time to be a Wildcat.”

Palmer, meanwhile, said she has more than a regional title on her mind as she prepares for her senior season.

“I have a state title on my mind, and bringing that to Wilkinson County,” she said.

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