The Herald's 2018 All-Area basketball players of the year had the same goal for this past season: win a state title.
Neither did. But that was the only smudge on Zeb Graham and RiKoya Anderson's performances during the 2017-18 campaign.
Nation Ford's Graham was named the Region 4-5A player of the year after scoring over 17 points per game and shooting 52 percent from the floor. The junior All-State guard -- who is getting recruiting interest from Yale, Columbia, Wofford and Winthrop -- added 4.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists per outing, helping the Falcons to the third round of the 5A state playoffs. That's the farthest the Nation Ford boys' program has ever advanced in the state playoffs.
"My teammates, they were my motivation because we all wanted the same goal," said Graham. "We all stayed together, we got really close. We pushed each other in practice and it came together in the games."
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Rock Hill's Anderson was the best girl hooper in the area for the third straight season. The Winthrop signee and 5A All-State pick averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds per game while shooting 77 percent from the foul line and making 34 3-pointers. Anderson was named Region 4-5A player of the year and also was selected to the South Carolina team for the Carolinas Classic all-star game. She and her senior classmates closed out their Rock Hill careers with 86 total wins, including nine in the playoffs and three region championships.
"I don't regret anything, besides not making it to the state championship," said Anderson. "I'm gonna look back on it and miss it a lot."
Rock Hill’s Kenny Orr and Lewisville’s Michael McCray are the All-Area coaches of the year. Orr led his Bearcats to a 22-4 record and a spot in the third round of the 5A state playoffs. McCray’s Lewisville team was a bit of a surprise 1A state semifinalist and the Lions were within a few seconds of playing in a second straight state championship game, despite important graduation losses the previous year.
Player of the year: RiKoya Anderson, Rock Hill
Coach of the year: Kenny Orr, Rock Hill
Player of the year: Zeb Graham, Nation Ford
Coach of the year: Michael McCray, Lewisville
Aylesha Wade, Clover; Zaria Woods, Lancaster; RiKoya Anderson, Rock Hill.
T.J. Hollis, Chester; Ryan Heriot, Fort Mill; Kelton Talford, Great Falls; Mikial Fourney, Lewisville; Shaman Alston, Nation Ford; Zeb Graham, Nation Ford; Malcolm Kennedy, York.
All-Star game selections
Carolinas Classic All-Star game: RiKoya Anderson, Rock Hill.
North-South All-Star game: Zaria Woods, Lancaster; Jabree McMullen, Northwestern; Jasona Ballard, Rock Hill.
North-South all-star game: Malcolm Kennedy, York.
Region 4-5A: Aylesha Wade, Clover; Renee Carter, Clover; K.K. Patterson, Fort Mill (newcomer of the year); Unique Burch, Fort Mill; Amiah Lindsay, Nation Ford; Sami Tuipulotu, Nation Ford; Jabree McMullen, Northwestern; Abriana Green, Rock Hill; RiKoya Anderson, Rock Hill (player of the year); Makenna Thompson, Rock Hill; Jasona Ballard, Rock Hill.
Region 3-4A: Zaria Woods, Lancaster; Jamia Blake, South Pointe; Scarlett Gilmore, South Pointe; Natalee Graham, York.
Region 4-3A: N/A
Region 2-A: Amber Bass, Lewisville.
Region 4-5A: Heze Massey, Clover; Ryan Heriot, Fort Mill; Josh Amigo, Fort Mill; Zeb Graham, Nation Ford (player of the year); Khydarius Smith, Nation Ford; Shaman Alston, Nation Ford (newcomer of the year); Malik Bryant, Nation Ford; Zay Martin, Northwestern; Chris Leach, Northwestern; Antonio Barber, Rock Hill; Saiveon Williams, Rock Hill.
Region 3-4A: Kemarkio Cloud, Lancaster; Andarius Boulware, South Pointe; Malcolm Kennedy, York; Cameron Jones, York.
Region 4-3A: T.J. Hollis, Chester; Quay Hardin, Chester; Jerrick Palmer, Indian Land; Destin Clark, Indian Land.
Region 2-A: Kelton Talford, Great Falls (player of the year); D.J. Adams, Great Falls; ZyDerrick Jordan, Great Falls; Tommy Belk, Great Falls; Maurice Grant, Lewisville; Mikial Fourney, Lewisville; Demetric Hardin, Lewisville.