Cherokee senior Kendall Toineeta is not a big fan of postgame interviews and has been known to politely duck requests to talk in the past.
She smiled Tuesday night and asked if her answers could be “spruced up.”
Maybe commentary is overrated. Besides, the most important thing for the undefeated Braves (13-0, 6-0) is that their point guard continues to speak volumes on the court.
“To me, she’s the best there is,” Cherokee coach Chris Mintz said.
“Kendall knows exactly what I want when she’s out there. She’s been around our program for so long. She really is our floor general, our leader, and does such a great job of running things.”
True, but Toineeta is more than just an extension of her coach.
The Lenoir-Rhyne recruit and 2014 Big Smoky Mountain Conference Player of Year is among Western North Carolina’s statistical leaders in multiple categories with 24.8 points, 5.8 assists, 5.8 steals and 4.2 rebounds a game.
Toineeta drained four 3-pointers Tuesday to finish with a team-high 26 points as the Braves doubled up homestanding Rosman, 74-37.
The 5-foot-7 senior has started for four years and notched her 1,000th career point as a junior.
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re excited about the season,” Toineeta said.
“It’s what we’ve worked so hard for. And our fans are the best. There’s nowhere else that has fans like ours.”
The Cherokee girls have won their first 13 games by an average of 20.4 points. Kaycee Lossiah, Reagan Barnard, Tiffini Riggins and Peri Wildcatt are the other seniors on their roster.
Barnard backed up Toineeta with 15 points on Tuesday while freshman Timaya Brown had 11. The game at Rosman quickly got out of hand and a running clock was used for a portion of the fourth quarter (as a result of the new NCHSAA mercy rule which is triggered by a 40-point lead).
Toineeta keeps her conditioning at a peak level in the offseason as a distance runner for the Cherokee cross country and track programs. She is one of three returning starters from last year’s 25-4 girls basketball team, along with juniors Bree Stamper and Le Le Lossiah.
The Braves are the four-time defending BSMC champs and play their next game Friday at Swain County. Cherokee was the No. 1 team in the latest computer-generated NCHSAA 1-A rankings from MaxPreps and second behind Winston-Salem Prep in this week’s NCPreps.com/state media poll.
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