Athlete of Week: MB gets major impact from Smith

In a matter of months, Asia Smith has gone from the new kid on campus to the driving force of the Myrtle Beach High girls basketball team’s amazing playoff run.

Transferring from Virginia for her junior year, the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week has played a key role in helping the Lady Seahawks reach Friday’s Class 4A Lower State Championship Game. The 6-foot center/forward has been a leader during the home stretch of the season despite being a newcomer to the school and team.

“It was a big adjustment. I knew it was a good school and they had a good basketball program, but my teammates really helped integrate me into the Seahawk family,” Smith said after celebrating Myrtle Beach’s 51-37 victory over AC Flora in Monday’s Lower State semifinals. “When I came here, I didn’t know what to expect. My teammates were very welcoming and now I feel like I’m part of something special.”

“Something special” is a sentiment Lady Seahawks coach Jennifer Dennison might apply to Smith. Upon receiving the final stats from Monday’s win, the Lady Seahawks’ 13th in a row, Dennison summed up Smith’s performance succinctly: “Thirteen points and 18 rebounds,” she proclaimed. “Another double-double. She battled.”

It’s more than Smith’s size and athleticism that have made a catalyst in Myrtle Beach’s late-season surge. She plays with passion and determination, often going toe to toe with the opponents’ most powerful player. She does so with intensity and an understanding of delivering exactly what her team needs to be successful.

“Everybody on this team has a role, and mine is to get on the glass and pull down rebounds. That’s what I do,” said Smith, who averaged a double-double in points and boards over the past month. “As long as everybody on our team keeps playing their role and doing their job, we can go a long way if we keep playing together.”

If not for the Myrtle Beach girls basketball team extending its season, Smith might be defending a different kind of goal Friday night. But instead of making her goalkeeping debut with the Myrtle Beach girls soccer team, she and her current Lady Seahawks hoops teammates have some unfinished business. In fact, Smith’s hoops experience has her reconsidering which one is her favorite sport.

“I started off playing (school) basketball, but I realized soccer was my first love so I went back to it my freshman year,” said Smith, who played club soccer in North Carolina and Virginia. “I love both but right now I’m all about basketball. This experience has me thinking basketball is my main sport.”

At least for now. But if the Lady Seahawks can topple Wilson for the third time this season in their home territory, Smith won’t mind waiting another week so she can go for a hoops state championship before transitioning to the soccer and go for another one. Given her impact on the hardwood, it might also be a big year on the pitch.

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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