Athlete of Week: Chadmon lifts Tigers to new heights

conghoops-15jConway High senior guard Zakera Chadmon and her Lady Tiger teammates would like to do a little redecorating to their home gym before she graduates. It’s an extreme makeover that is long overdue.

“We’ve got a whole different demeanor this year because we want to win region,” said Chadmon, who was voted the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week for helping the Lady Tigers get off to a 3-0 start in Region 6-5A play. “We’ve been working hard for that banner.”

Region championships in girls basketball are so rare at Conway that no one is quite sure of the last one (1983 is the best guess). See if this puts the 34-year drought in perspective: About the same time Chadmon was born, current Conway coach Shamae Hemingway was playing for her alma mater and trying to snap the same streak that began about the time she was born.

“We want to win it for her,” Chadmon said of her coach. “She pushes us hard everyday in practice. There are no days off with her. She’s a great motivator. I think she’s more excited than us.”

Chadmon is a do-it-all player for the Lady Tigers, averaging 11 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game. She also brings a steady leadership to her talented cast of teammates, like juniors Neci Hemingway, MeMe Williams, and Lenaejah Evans. They form a cohesive corp forged over a decade on the court together.

“We’ve been playing AAU ball together since we were about 7, so we know each others games,” Chadmon said. “We’ve got a solid group and every night we’re going to bring something to the table.”

Chadmon and her teammates have given Conway fans plenty of reasons to cheer. At a school where football is king, the queens of the court have finally started turning some heads with their rare region title run.

“This has always been a football school; people usually don’t get too excited about basketball,” Chadmon said. “We’ve always had strong support from our family members, but now that we’re starting to win other people are getting excited about us.”

The drama is expected to reach its peak Tuesday night when Conway plays host to rival Carolina Forest in a first-place showdown. The No. 10-ranked Lady Panthers also bring a 3-0 region record to the party.

“We know Carolina Forest is always a big game but this one is for first place,” Chadmon said. “We’re excited to play them. We feel like we match up with them real good. We just want to go out and get this W.”

While beating Carolina Forest and winning the region are on the Lady Tigers’ immediate to-do list, they also have their eyes on even bigger prizes down the road. After last year’s program-first trip to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, Chadmon believes this Conway team is capable of making school history.

“Last year when we made it to second round of the playoffs, that gave us a lot of momentum and confidence,” Chadmon said. “We’re just trying to push it and see how far we can go. We want to go all the way.”

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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