Christian Academy girls’ basketball coach Don Rice says senior China Dow has been both a blessing and a nightmare to coach.
She’s been a blessing because of her talent and willingness to help with younger teammates, a nightmare because her advanced knowledge of the game occasionally makes it difficult.
“You have to teach and coach so that all of the kids understand what you’re saying,” Rice said. “But she’s so advanced, sometimes it’s difficult to get some of the other kids to grasp what we’re trying to do with her.”
Dow has enjoyed an outstanding season with the Lady Centurions, averaging 28 points, 13.6 rebounds, five assists and four steals per game. She was an overwhelming selection for Seventh Region Player of the Year honors, receiving eight of the 11 votes from coaches.
Ballard’s Tearra Banks received the other three.
Mercy’s Whitney Hartlage was named Sixth Region Player of the Year, receiving six of 12 votes. Butler’s Aareon Smith was the runner-up with three votes.
The 5-foot-11 Dow, who has signed with Middle Tennessee State, has played all five positions during her career at CAL but is at her best when playing the perimeter and driving to the basket.
“She’ll probably play the 2 guard in college,” Rice said. “People just have a tough time trying to stop her because she’s so strong. Her forte is being able to get the ball to the basket.”
Rice also has been impressed with Dow’s willingness to work with younger players.
“We do 30 minutes of ball drills every day, and she’s the leader. She’s more than willing to help out, whether you’re an eighth-grader or a senior or in between.”
Hartlage, a 5-8 senior guard who has signed with Tennessee-Chattanooga, is averaging 16.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 steals for Mercy. Nearly 70 percent of her shots this season (271 of 391) have come from 3-point range, where she’s shooting 31.4 percent.
“She’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever had,” Jaguars coach Mark Evans said. “She came in with a very good shooting instinct and is going out with a much more refined ability.”