Westover basketball star Ieshia Young, center, sits between her aunt and guardian Melissa Young, left, and her aunt Edna Turner, Wednesday after signing a national letter of intent with Florida State College at Jacksonville.
ALBANY — Ieshia Young, a two-time Herald Super 6er and a vital member of the most prestigious girls basketball program in Southwest Georgia, signed a letter of intent on Wednesday to accept a basketball scholarship to Florida State College at Jacksonville.
Young was the other half of Westover’s incredible duo that helped the Lady Patriots emerge as a state powerhouse. Herald Willie Boston Player of the Year DyTiesha Dunson and Young gave Westover a 1-2 punch that was all but unbeatable. They literally were for most of the season, winning 23 games in a row as seniors.
Young not only averaged 12 points, two steals and three assists a game, but she was a tenacious defensive player and almost always took on the opponent’s best player.
She made a name for herself at Westover, where she started as “the other girl.”
“That’s what we called her,’’ said Westover coach Lewis Smith. “Ieshia started out as the other girl. When she was in middle school I would send my assistant coach (Reastgo Holmes) there to see DyTiesha, and he would always come back and tell me about that other girl. He said: ‘That other girl is making shots, and that other girl is handling the ball and that other girl is playing defense.’ When she came to Westover she was still that other girl as a freshman, and there was a game when we were down by three and the clock was winding down and we put her in the game, and she made a 3-pointer to send the game into overtime, and we said: ‘That other girl made the 3.’ But by the time she was a sophomore, she wasn’t that other girl any more. Everyone knew her name.’’
She was Westover’s best defender.
When Young got to Westover as a freshman, the Lady Patriots were playing in a summer league game, and the other team’s shooting guard was lighting it up.
“Ieshia came to me and said, ‘Coach, I‘ll guard her,’ ’’ Smith said. “A bell went off in my head that this is the girl who can play defense, and she took pride in her defense. I’m going to miss her on-the-ball defense. She was my best on-the-ball defender, and she would guard the other team’s best player.’’
Young leaves Westover with a remarkable 99-17 record over her four years as a Lady Patriot, and this season’s team went 26-3, the best in the school’s history.
“It was a good run, and we made history this year,’’ Young said. “And I got to do it with my best friend (Dunson), and that made it even better.’’
Dunson and Young made each other better.
“She would always pick me up when I was down,’’ Dunson said. “Ieshia is always striving to be better, and she can play. She can shoot and she plays great defense and always plays hard. I can always count on her. I’m really excited for her getting a scholarship.’’
Young plans to major in criminal justice and move on to a four-year school, but she liked everything about FSCJ.
“I liked the school. I liked the city,’’ Young said. “I really like the coach, and I got to meet the players who are coming back next year. They run an offense where they run a lot, and I think it’s a good fit for me.
“I always dreamed of getting a scholarship,’’ she added. “I knew it was the only way I would get to go to college.’’
Young will be missed at Westover, where she was more than just a hard-nose defender and clutch shooter.
“I’ll miss her defense and her shooting, and I’ll miss that little bubbly way that she would be — that energy and that spirit,’’ Smith said. “We will all miss that.’’