WINSTON-SALEM — A Mount Airy graduate has picked up two awards in the past week for her basketball play in college.
Mikayla Seivers, class of 2014, earned all-conference status at Division III Salem College. She also won a readers’ choice award for player of the week on sports website HeroSports.com.
Playing a tough non-conference schedule to start the season, Salem College struggled to a 3-16 start, but finished the season on a 6-1 run before losing to UC Santa Cruz in the Great South Conference Championship.
Seivers, a 5-foot-5 sophomore, led the team with 5.6 assists per game. She was third on the Spirits with 11.4 points per game and fourth with 4.2 rebounds. She reached 20 points in four games, double digits in assists three times and in rebounding once.
“I love it,” Seivers said of the honor. “It was kind of a shock, but I was excited.” So were her parents, she added.
Her 5.6 assists not only led the conference, but her 141 assists overall ranked 28th in the nation for Division III players. Former Bishop McGuinness rival Sammi Goldsmith, playing for Lynchburg, finished third in the nation at 187 (6.4 per game).
Some of the women ahead of Seivers on the list played more games than she did. Going by assists per game, Seivers would jump up nine spots to 19th in the nation.
Not only did her performance land the point guard a spot on the Great South All-Conference Team, but her assists helped two of her teammates to make the team with her: Quntashea Lewis and Sabrina Shepherd. In fact, Lewis was named the conference player of the year.
“Q Lewis did a whole lot of that herself,” Seivers said, deflecting any credit. “She got open, she created for herself.”
Another local graduate received recognition from the Great South.
Daisha Bunn, who starred in discus and shot put at Surry Central, walked on to the basketball team and appeared in six games. She was named to the conference all-sportsmanship team.
Because of some cutbacks this season, some of the field events on the track team were eliminated this season, Seivers said. Bunn’s two events were among the cuts, but the basketball coach was open to letting her try out. Daisha has been a great addition to the team, and everyone loves her, said Seivers.
As for losing to a California team in the conference tournament, Seivers said UC Santa Cruz wasn’t supposed to be in the Great South, but played its first season as part of the conference. However, Salem neither traveled to Santa Cruz, nor hosted the visiting team during the regular season, so it was their first look at each other in the tournament.
“They had a big team and we only had about seven players,” she said. Still, the Spirits stayed close for much of the game before losing by 16 points.
The website HeroSports.com held a readers’ poll each week for the top performances in Division III basketball. In the girls’ poll, Seivers was nominated twice and finished high both times.
In week nine in mid-January, Seivers finished second in the voting for player of the week. She garnered 41.63 percent, second to Ashley Hipps of Ozarks, who received 57.64 percent.
That week, Seivers had a double-double, but while only scoring four points. In an unusual feat, she made double digits in rebounds and assists, getting 11 boards and a season-high 14 dimes in a win over Agnes Scott. Hipps posted 35 points, 11 assists and three steals in an overtime game.
In week 16, announced March 7, Seivers took first place with 64.51 percent, beating out Kendall Parker, Mary Washington (34.73 percent).
Seivers tallied a season-high 28 points to go with 13 assists and seven rebounds in a win over Pine Manor.
Parker had 36 points, including eight 3-pointers, but didn’t fill up the rest of the stat sheet like Seivers.
Asked about her big game, Seivers said she had no idea she had set a career high for points until after the game.
As for her 13 assists, she said she made passes and was lucky that their shots went in to finish the plays. She said her coach is a former college point guard, too, so they give the players a hard time if they miss an easy look off one of her passes.
With two more years of eligibility, the former Lady Bear has plenty more chances to set the table for her teammates.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.