Herald All-Area Girls Basketball Capsules

April 14, 2012 

PLAYER OF THE YEARDeAngela Mathis,sophomore, Southeast

To her credit: Mathis led the Seminoles in scoring and was near the top in almost every important category. The 5-foot-9 forward topped the team in scoring (19.1 ppg), was second in rebounds (6.0 rpg) and finished the season with 534 points to give her 727 for her career.

Fast facts: Mathis comes from a basketball family that includes her mother (Angela) and father (Dion), who were successful high school players and played at Edward Waters College. Her aunt, Nicole Blair, was a standout for Southeast in the late 1990s. Mathis' favorite player is Kansas standout Thomas Robinson, and her favorite basketball team is the University of Kentucky. Her favorite subjects are English and math and she would like to major in physical therapy or accounting in college.

Up next: Mathis will continue to play basketball and try to become the best player possible. This summer, she likely will play for the Next Level, a travel team coached by Tina Hadley, current Lakewood Ranch head girls coach.

FIRST TEAMRachel Brown, senior,Bradenton Christian

To her credit: The sharp-shooting guard broke the 1,000-point career scoring barrier this season in leading the Panthers in scoring (17.1 ppg), while shooting 47 percent on two-point field goal attempts. She finished her career with 1,127 points.Her most impressive stat was her team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game because she played guard. Brown was second on the team with 85 steals. She scored in double figures in 16 of 18 games she played and had 20-plus points in seven games.

Fast facts: A multi-talented individual, Brown is a standout on the Panthers softball team and hopes to play that sport in college. She is the first member of her family to play high school sports and has excelled in both basketball and softball. She became the seventh female basketball player at Bradenton Christian to hit the 1,000-point mark and turned in an excellent season despite being hampered at the end because of an ankle injury.

Up next: Brown hopes to be a physical therapist. She says the biggest inspiration in her life is the late Don Vautrinot Jr., the Bradenton Christian assistant basketball coach who passed away suddenly in January.

Gabriella Diaz-Granados,senior, Lakewood Ranch

To her credit: A three-year starter, she led the Mustangs in scoring (15.7 ppg), improving on her average from last season (13.9 ppg), which enabled her to become the second person to crack the program's 1,000-point scoring barrier, finishing her career with 1,120 points. A very versatile player, Diaz-Granados averaged four assists and four rebounds per game and showed her defensive talent with 1.5 steals per game. She is the only female from Manatee County selected to Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FACA) All-Star game.

Fast facts: Born in Fort Lauderdale, Diaz-Granados moved to Manatee County in the fifth grade. Her father, who grew up in Colombia, was a soccer player, and her mother was a dancer. In her spare time, she plays the electric and acoustic guitar and drums. She started playing music at age 7. Her favorite subject in school is anything science, and her favorite basketball player is Dwyane Wade.

Up next: Plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University, but says her playing days are over because she wants to focus on academics in preparation for medical school and a career as an emergency-room doctor. She wants to become a doctor to help people.

Camille Giardina, freshman, Cardinal Mooney

To her credit: The freshman phenom set a school record by filling up the nets for 575 points, which outscored last year's entire Cardinal Mooney team (550). But her versatility was astonishing. She led the Cougars in steals (148), assists (90) and rebounds (138) despite playing in the backcourt most of the time. She was the main reason Cardinal Mooney increased its scoring from 19 points per game to 44 and improved from 5-20 to 16-10. The 5-6 guard scored 30-plus points in seven games with a season-high 38 and hit double figures in 26 games.

Fast facts: Camille and her family moved here from New England, and the talented guard took the area by storm. Her passion for basketball runs deep and she says she "loves the thrill of working for something and showing everything you've got and leaving it all on the floor, the swishing of the net and the excitement of the steal and taking it to the hoop."

Up next: With three years before graduation, Giardina has a lot of time to think about college and develop her game. She is not sure about which college she will choose, but prefers to attend school in the New England area and would like to major in some type of graphics or design. Her favorite subject is art, and she enjoys munching on brownies and chocolate ice cream.

Keshawna Robinson,sophomore, Southeast

To her credit: Robinson led the Noles on the boards, averaging 10 rebounds per game, and was third in scoring at 11.2 points per game. She shot 53 percent from the field (122-229), had double-figure rebounds in 16 games with a high of 18 against St. Petersburg Gibbs when she had a season-high 21 points and picked up her scoring at the end of the season, hitting for double figures in eight of her final 10 games.

Fast facts: The Seminoles' top post player also comes from an athletic-oriented environment. Her stepfather, Sam Washington, played basketball for Southeast, and her uncle, Dwight Yarn, played football for the Seminoles. Robinson would like to play in the WNBA, but says if it doesn't work out she wants to be a businesswoman. Her favorite player is Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, and she tries to pattern herself after him, particularly on defense, which is her favorite part of the game. She credits her stepfather for helping her the most in basketball. Her favorite subject in school is world history.

Up next: With two more seasons to go, Robinson hopes to continue refining her game so she can eventually earn a scholarship to a Division I school. She continues to focus on defense and hustle and says her life centers around the game: "I eat, sleep and practice basketball and try every day to learn new things to make myself a better."

Blair Thomas, senior, Palmetto

To her credit: A four-year starter for the Tigers, Thomas was instrumental in what was arguably the best Palmetto girls team in a long time. She averaged 12 points and eight rebounds per game and finished her career with 920 points and 268 boards. She is one of the most versatile players in the history of the program, averaging more than five steals and five assists for her career.

Fast facts: Known as a person who always has a smile on her face, Thomas loves to write poetry and says her favorite subject is science. She takes pride in playing good defense and enjoys that aspect of the game the most. Her favorite player is Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose. She has tried to follow in the footsteps of her father, Paul Thomas, who played point guard for Manatee High in the late 1970s. She said a lot people doubted her because she is not a great shooter, but she made up for that with her defense and playing hard.

Up next: Thomas has her sights set on the University of Miami and would like to play basketball for the Hurricanes. She is not sure what she wants to major in, but has interest in the dental field.

Honorable mention

BAYSHORE -- Elissa Alvarez.

BRADEN RIVER -- Madison Jaco.

BRADENTON CHRISTIAN -- Hailey Dearlove.

CARDINAL MOONEY -- Julia Arias.

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Emily Bulfin.

MANATEE -- Alexis Riley, Becca Butler.

OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY -- Mara Falahee.

PALMETTO -- Alyssa Ward, Jermisha Collins.

SAINT STEPHEN'S -- Lauren Johnson.

SOUTHEAST -- Bevin Mays.

-- Alan Dell, Herald sports writer

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