By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Already a part of one elite fraternity, Brandi Goodman has joined another even smaller select group.
The University of Memphis signee — one of but four 2,000-point scorers in the storied history of Obion County Central girls’ basketball — becomes just the third Lady Rebel ever to be selected as a finalist for Miss Basketball with that announcement today.
Goodman joins past OCCHS standouts Jana Roney and two-time finalist and the school’s only winner of the prestigious award, Chassidy Fussell, on a short list as the only finalists for the Class 2A honor from a program that has won at least 20 games in 35 of the 52 years the school has been in existence.
Goodman’s competition for the 2013 award is stiff, including last year’s winner Elizabeth Masengil of McMinn Central and Cannon County standout point guard Abbey Sissom.
The winner will be announced at the conclusion of the Class 2A girls’ state tournament in Murfreesboro March 9.
Every coach in the state and numerous media outlets had the opportunity to nominate a player in the process. A collection of nine sports writers from across Tennessee formed a committee to choose the finalists.
Goodman, already a two-time all-stater who eclipsed the 2,000-point mark earlier this season to join the school’s all-time leading scorer Rosemary (Thompson) Coleman, Cortney Neeley and Fussell in that company, averaged 22 points, 14 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots per-game during the regular season.
She has collected more than 1,600 career rebounds, putting her within striking distance of former Collierville and University of Tennessee standout Nikki McCray’s all-time state mark of 1,720.
The future Memphis Tiger has helped the Lady Rebel program to 118 career wins in her four-year prep career, including last season when she led Obion Central to a state runnerup finish.
Her performance this season has been especially noteworthy, given that she’s been the focal point of most every opposing defense on the heels of her success the last two seasons.
“You can’t hide when you’re six-foot-two and the two-time most valuable player of one of the toughest Double-A districts in the state,” OC head coach Lyle LaRue said in his praise of Goodman, who also sports a 3.9 grade average in the classroom. “Everybody we’ve played has specifically game-planned their defense to stop her. She’s seen more double-teams this year and has been beaten on pretty good at times inside by teams who’ve tried to get real physical with her.
“She was blessed with size and strength, but she’s worked so hard away from the court — in the weight room and in individual drills. A lot of people don’t see that. She’s combined her God-given skill level with a tremendous work ethic to accomplish the things she’s accomplished. She’s well-deserving of being one of the top girls’ players in Class 2A in Tennessee.”
LaRue said of all her impressive individual numbers, he’s most impressed with Goodman’s work on the glass.
“I think the biggest and most important statistics in basketball is rebounding,” the coach said. “It’s the only thing you can count on night-in and night-out because it’s really just about effort. Knowing that Brandi was going to give us double-digits in rebounding every night out the last three years has been invaluable in our success.
“For a post player to get 2,000 points is really unique because they have to depend on other people to get them the ball and an offense geared around their talents of pushing the ball inside. Most of her points have been either assisted by a teammate or a putback shot, so that makes her scoring accomplishment much more of a team one and I think Brandi would tell you that.”
Goodman’s numbers measure up to the other two finalists.
Masengil, a 5-11 UT Martin signee who won the award as a junior, has averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds a game in her senior season. She’s scored more than 2,400 career points and MC has gone 113-15 entering the postseason during her illustrious high school playing days. She ranks No. 1 in her graduating class with a 4.0 GPA.
Masengil was the MVP when McMinn Central won the Class 2A state title her sophomore year, but bowed out in last year’s quarterfinals to Goodman at OCCHS.
Sissom has started every game of her career for CC and is averaging 21 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds.
LaRue believes Central’s past success — both as a team and with a handful of noteworthy individual careers — prompts players, like Goodman, to work even harder to be a part of the program’s legacy.
“It’s a challenge for players to live up to the tradition of the past here,” LaRue concluded. “I’m constantly asking them, ‘Do you deserve to wear that name across the front of the jersey?’”
No doubt, Goodman does.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Miss Basketball Finalists
Jaycee Coe, Jackson County
Sarah Raby, Moore County
Brooke Rhodes, Cloudland
Brandi Goodman, Obion County
Elizabeth Masengil, McMinn Central
Abbey Sissom, Cannon County
Nina Davis, Memphis Central
Olivia Jones, Riverdale
Alexa Middleton, Riverdale
Eliza Edwards, USJ
Kaylah Keys, Harding Academy
Derica Wyatt, FRA
Jasmine Cincore, Briarcrest
Kennesha Nichols, Ensworth
Justice Swett, Ensworth
Mr. Basketball Finalists
Alex Fountain, Wartburg Central
Zarmarlus Griffin, Mem. BTW
Derrick Spears, Middle Tenn.Chr.
Jalen Lindsey, CPA
A.J. Merriweather, South Side
Mason Ramsey, Livingston Academy
Robert Hubbs, Dyer County
Nick King, Memphis East
Darius Thompson, Blackman
Skal Labissiere, ECS
Cameron Payne, Lausanne
Burton Sampson, Knoxville Webb
Corneilus Elder, Ensworth
Austin Nichols, Briarcrest
Reggie Upshaw, Baylor
Published in The Messenger 2.13.13