2018-19 Prep Girls Basketball Player of the Year: Brown Back As The Best
Malea Brown stands out on the Interlachen High School girls basketball team.
For one thing, she doesn’t attend IHS, the only member of her squad who goes to Q.I. Roberts Junior-Senior High School, where students involved academically compete elsewhere athletically.
Secondly, few compete like Malea Brown. Nobody scores like her – not for Interlachen, not for Palatka and not for Crescent City.
She was again the county’s girls basketball scoring champion in 2018-19, averaging 25.6 points per game with single-game highs of 36 in victories over The Villages and Orange Park Ridgeview. The 5-foot-7 guard already has 1,048 career points for a program that has compiled 34 wins the last two seasons.
It made Brown an easy selection to repeat as Daily News Girls Basketball Player of the Year. A full team was chosen this season with Crescent City’s return to the varsity level, but there was no competition for Brown when it came to singling out the best.
Brown was also the Rams’ leading rebounder with 218 for the season. She totaled 124 steals and set a single-game school record with nine assists.
This year as last, she did not talk a big game, but played one.
“Most of my games were pretty good, but I could still improve,” she said. “I just work hard and do my best.”
She identified the 36-point Ridgeview game as a favorite. She has areas of concern in her game that she hopes to address this summer while playing for Team Impact, a Gainesville-based AAU program.
Comfortable at either guard position, Brown said she needed to work on her left-handed dribbling and on free-throw shooting. (She’s not bad from the line, as Palatka learned the hard way when Brown made three shots after time expired to lift the Rams over the Panthers in their only meeting of the season.)
Brown plays the point for Team Impact but was the two-guard for IHS, trying to capitalize on teammate Kierra Chauncey’s skill at the point. Brown knows what it takes to excel at either position.
“Her IQ is outrageous,” said Interlachen coach Kim Troiano. “She knows things that have to be taught to the other girls – when to push the ball, when to kick the ball out. I’ve seen her take some bad shots obviously, but if she’s (being guarded) three on one, she knows to kick it to someone else.
“She lacks one thing and that’s a voice. For such a dominant player, she’s very quiet.”
Brown still has a couple of years to find that voice as the Rams try to make headway in a difficult new district.
“We just need to play together better,” said Brown, who during the season rides a bus daily from Q.I. Roberts in Florahome to practice with her team at Interlachen High.
Brown’s skill level places her apart from her teammates, yet it does not place her above them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard her complain,” said Troiano, who worked with Brown as an assistant coach in 2017-18 before taking over last season. “I’ve seen her get frustrated in a game, but that’s more with herself. When I make the girls run, nine times out of 10 she finishes first.”
An A-B student at Q.I. Roberts, Brown said she is beginning to get mail from colleges and likes the idea of playing at a higher level and continue her education at the same time.
“I just put together her highlights and am trying to get them out,” Troiano said. “Colleges would be dumb not to take her – maybe not Division I, but Division II, NAIA or juco.”
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
1996–Tanya Hart, Palatka
1998–Mikel Taylor, Palatka
1999–Erica Williams, Palatka
2000-03 –None selected|
2004–Elena Myles, Palatka
2005–Chrishea Johnson, Palatka
2006–Vicki Newton, Palatka
2007–Chrishea Johnson, Palatka
2008–Jameshia Willis, Palatka
2009–Phoenicha Hires, Palatka
2010–Kayshia Brady, Crescent City
2011–Kayshia Brady, Crescent City
2012–Jonell Williams, Palatka
2013–Jonell Williams, Palatka
2014–Jonell Williams, Palatka
2015–Jonell Williams, Palatka
2016–Elexus Banks, Palatka
2017–Elexus Banks, Palatka
2018–Malea Brown, Interlachen
2019–Malea Brown, Interlachen