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Science Hill defensive force Smith named All-NET girls player of the year

Tanner Cook • Mar 19, 2020 at 6:00 PM

Even though the season didn’t end the way envisioned, Science Hill senior Alasia Smith played a massive role in helping the Lady Hilltoppers return to Murfreesboro.

For her outstanding, multi-dimensional play, Smith has been chosen as the Johnson City Press/Kingsport Times News 2019-20 girls basketball player of the year for Northeast Tennessee.

The Lady ’Toppers bowed out in the first round of the TSSAA’s Class AAA state tournament last Wednesday, falling 61-46 to Stone Memorial. The Lady Panthers eventually made it to the semifinals against Whitehaven before the tournament was indefinitely suspended.

“It was an amazing feeling getting to go back to state,” Smith said. “We didn’t play to our full potential, though. We couldn’t make anything. I felt pretty good about the game going in because we had played them twice and we knew them.”

WILLING HER TEAM TO THE ’BORO

In its sectional contest against visiting Bearden, Science Hill trailed for the majority of the game before Smith decided to carry her team to the finish line.

“My teammates know that I hate to lose,” she said. “I especially hate losing at home and when the game got inside of two minutes and we were still down, I made the decision that I needed to take over the game.”

And Smith did just that, scoring what was the go-ahead bucket with less than 30 seconds to go. She preserved the 49-47 win for Science Hill with a steal at the buzzer.

“That was just her will to win,” Science Hill coach Scottie Whaley said. “She has an exceptional motor and all of the girls didn’t want to go home that night.”

DEFENSIVE SPECIALIST

Smith was an offensive force as a senior, averaging 15.0 points and 9.5 rebounds per game — but she truly shined on the defensive end.

“I think defense is my speciality,” she said. “I like picking with people and I do some trash talking. I think it’s to both get in the opponent’s head and to pump myself up.”

Her length and athleticism posed a lot of problems for opposing teams. She averaged 4.0 steals and affected numerous other passes throughout the season.

Said Whaley, “She is relentless on defense and we never (had) to worry about her not playing hard. The thing that makes her different is that she sees the floor very well and she’s great at anticipating.”

OFF THE HARDWOOD

When she’s not in an empty gym putting up extra shots, Smith is heavily involved with Melting Pot Ministries through Munsey United Methodist Church.

Smith helps feed the homeless and believes it is a great way to give back to the community.

“We get to help people that are less fortunate than us and it’s a humbling act,” she says.

Furthermore, Smith excels academically and takes a special liking to science — particularly chemistry.

“I like to see eruptions, explosions and stuff like that,” she said.

Added Whaley, “Alasia has two great parents that have raised her in the right way. She puts in the time with everything she does and she’s just a great kid on and off the court.”

Smith signed earlier this year with Gardner-Webb, but does not have an intended major.

COMMENTS ON EACH OTHER

“Coach Whaley has been like a second father to me,” she said. “I can go to him at any time with anything and he’ll help me with it. He believed in this team and that helped us get to state the last two years. He’s not only helping us become good basketball players, he’s helping us become better young ladies.”

And Whaley’s thoughts about Smith?

“It has been an absolute privilege to coach Alasia and all these seniors for four years,” he said. “I honestly cannot believe how fast it has gone by. I’ve been associated with some of the best teams and players Science Hill has ever had and she’s one of them.”

ONE WORD

Smith described her game with the word “dominant.”

She has the capability to take over a game — and knows it.

“I’ve become more of an all-around player,” she said. “I’m passionate about it and I think that’s why I’m so good on defense.”

Whaley picked the word “relentless.”

“She’s a four-year starter and we’ve never once had to worry about her not playing her butt off,” he said. “Relentless is the best way to describe her with anything she does. She’s going to work hard and that’s why I think she will succeed in anything that she tries.”

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