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Tomorrow’s Stars: ACCS players bring different qualities to hardwood

Adams County Christian School sophomore Anna McDaniel and junior Devin Spear influence the game in different ways. McDaniel is a scorer and Spear is a hustle player. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Adams County Christian School sophomore Anna McDaniel and junior Devin Spear influence the game in different ways. McDaniel is a scorer and Spear is a hustle player. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Lighting up the scoring column isn’t the only modifier that transcends a star, or in this case, future stars.

As Adams County Christian School junior Devin Spear struggled to find the bottom of the net Thursday night against Central Hinds, head coach Richy Spears wasn’t too worried about his stagnant offensive production. Instead of impacting the game from the perimeter, Spear produced other means of success.

“He never quits,” Spears said. “Whether it’s good or bad, he’s always hustling, around the ball, making things happen for us.”

But an hour before Spear took the court with his teammates, sophomore Anna McDaniel was seemingly hitting every shot she attempted for the Lady Rebels. The sophomore opened the game shooting at a high percentage, scoring the first 10 points for ACCS in the first three minutes of the game. McDaniel suggested after the game that she wasn’t keeping track, just playing ball and making plays.

“I don’t really keep up with my points that much,” said McDaniel with a wide grin. “I just go. There are some games I’m not on. I wasn’t on before the game, but I just kept shooting.”

Like Spear, McDaniel was also making the hustle plays, getting back on defense and waving her arms in front of the Central Hinds player trying to inbound the ball after an ACCS basket. Her hustle took a visible affect. After McDaniel stroked a 3-pointer with a hand in her face with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter, McDaniel gave a look to her bench, sticking her tongue out, signaling to head coach Melanie Hall to give her a breather.

“Oh I was very tired by that point,” McDaniel said. “At that point, it just took a look.”

In polar opposite performances, Spear, along with most of the Rebels, struggled to produce points outside of the paint Thursday night. That caused little trouble for the Rebels who never trailed in their 63-26 blowout win. The win came largely for the team’s hustle plays, something Spear takes a lot of pride in doing.

“It wasn’t my night,” Spear said. “Right now, my role is to hustle. It’s what coach teaches us. We hustle every play. Plain and simple, that’s what we do.”

Spear is one of the few juniors that play for the Rebels and will have to replace multiple senior players, like Tyler Stockstill, Trey Fleming, Brandon Brooks and others. Those three players led the Rebels in scoring in the victory.

And while Spear might not be producing double-figure scoring totals this season, as a starting junior, he’s more than doubled his offensive production as a role-playing sophomore last season.

“I don’t know how many I averaged last year, but it wasn’t many,” Spear said. “It wasn’t this year. Let’s just say I’ve easily doubled it.”

Though Spears was unhappy about his team’s careless mistakes, he was happy to see young, emerging stars like Spear find a way to score, even when the shots aren’t falling like they normally are.

“It was an off night for a bunch of people,” Spears said. “Sometimes you have to know it won’t go and do something difference. That’s what he did. He would go to the goal.”

McDaniel rarely had to do that in a 52-21 victory. For the sharpshooting sophomore that made five 3-pointers, she led all scorers with 21 points.

Hall sat back and watched her young star produce the best performance of her young athletic career, proud as could be.

“She’s very capable of nights like this,” Hall said. “God has just gifted her with a lot of athletic ability.”

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