Dearth Parker and Kelsey Gee deservedly earned Ada Evening News Player of the Year honors for 2005-2006, but this year’s All-Area squad is loaded with players of both sexes who were major contributors to one of the region’s most memorable basketball seasons ever.

Strangely enough, the top senior players in the area this season were boys (eight of the top 12 boys on the All-Area squad were seniors while only three seniors were first or second-team selections on the girls’ side), but the teams who made the biggest splash were girls squads.

Roff had the only boys squad to reach the state tournament, while the Stonewall, Ada and Coalgate girls all made it to the Big Show — and they did it with teams that will basically return intact next season (all three have already been extended invitations to the 2006 Bertha Frank Teague Mid-America Tournament in December).

Here is a look at the other AEN All-Area first-teamers for 2005-2006:

GIRLS

Kendra Pearce, Tupelo

One of the area’s leading scorers for three seasons, Pearce saw her average dip a bit this season because of the addition of sophomore move-in Katie Campbell (a second-team All-Area pick) to the Tupelo starting five, but she still ranked second to Gee among area girls in both scoring (19.6 points per game) and rebounding (nine per contest). She hit 46.1 percent of her two-point attempts for the season and teamed with Campbell to give the Lady Tigers one of the area’s best 1-2 punches and helped Tupelo improve to 18-8 last season after an eight-win campaign the previous year.

Felicia Logsdon, Stonewall

Logsdon had a breakout sophomore year in 2004-2005, when she helped the Lady Longhorns to a surprising 18-8 record, and she was even better this season, although Stonewall used a much more balanced attack in compiling a 29-3 record en route to the school’s first state semifinal appearance ever. Logsdon was the complete package, leading her team in scoring (14.1), rebounding (7.2) and assists (142) while hitting almost half of her 2-point field goal tries.

Molly Maloy, Ada

Maloy, who struggled as a sophomore after a solid freshman campaign, emerged in 2005-2006 to lead the young Lady Cougars on their surprising run to the Class 5A state tournament. She averaged 11.5 points per game and was one of the area’s best 3-point shooters, hitting 60 of her 146 attempts. She was also a clutch performer in the playoffs, hitting key 3-pointers and evolving as one of the leaders on a club that started five guards and/or five underclassmen at various times late in the season, depending on the situation.

Chelsey Bennett, Latta

Bennett, whose brother, Chasen, was an all-state performer for the Panthers in 2004-2005, helped lead a rebirth of the Lady Panthers’ fortunes this season under first-year coach David Tinkler. A prolific outside shooter who also used her quickness to create easy buckets and opportunities for her teammates, Bennett (the only senior other than Gee on the first team) averaged 16.1 points and 4.8 assists per contest and joined freshman forward Skyler Jenson to lead Latta to the area tournament.

Mallory Walker, Coalgate

Rarely used as a freshman, Walker blossomed under new coach Jim Jenson during a breakout sophomore campaign. Coalgate’s first option on offense all season as the Lady Wildcats won 29 of 32 games en route to the Class 2A state semifinals, the 6-1 center was the area’s top post player in 2005-2006, averaging 16.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest while hitting a gaudy 66 percent from the field.

BOYS

Garan Qualls, Stratford

Qualls — of only two underclassmen on the first team — was the area’s leading scorer (24 points per game) and the leader of a Stratford squad that suffered through its share of adversity but still managed to win 20 of 25 games. Qualls hit a solid 100 of 246 3-point attempts and also averaged 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per contest on a team that averaged 75.5 points per outing despite losing two starters after Christmas.

Daniel Stingley, Coalgate

One of the area’s best all-around athletes, Stingley (among the state’s top passing quarterbacks the past three seasons) averaged over 20 points per game in leading the Wildcats to a 15-11 record and the finals of the regional tournament. A leaper with a deft shooting touch, Stingley also averaged 7.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists and ranked third in area scoring behind Qualls and Parker.

Kolbie Brown, Latta

Despite a trip to the area finals, Latta had a disappointing season in 2005-2006 (after reaching the 2A state tournament three of the previous four years), but Brown was one of the area’s best guards from start to finish. The senior sharpshooter averaged 14.7 points, three assists and 3.5 rebounds per game and teamed with junior Trevan Jimboy to give the Panthers a backcourt duo that, at its best, was one of the most explosive in the state.

C. J. Stewart, Roff 

A role player on two straight Roff state tournament teams, Stewart became a legitimate star this season, averaging 11 points and five rebounds per contest to help the Tigers to the Class A title game. One of the area’s top defensive players despite his size (6-1), Stewart manhandled bigger centers down low all season and was one of the leaders on a Roff team that led Class A in scoring defense.

Cameron Mann, Tupelo

A force for the Tigers in their run to the area finals during his freshman year, Mann continued his evolution into one of the area’s best players as a sophomore. A 5-10 forward who, like Stewart, was matched against bigger post players night in and night out, Mann averaged 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds and hit 49 percent of his field goal tries in leading the Tigers (who didn’t have a senior starter) to an 18-10 record.

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