Barker named to Super All-State team, Class 7A Player of the Year

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

MONTGOMERY – A night after being named locally as the best girls basketball player in Shelby County, Sarah Ahslee Barker was honored again at the 2019 Mr. and Miss Basketball Banquet held at Montgomery’s Renaissance Hotel on Tuesday, March 26.

The Spain Park junior and University of Georgia commit was honored by being named the best overall girls player in the 7A classification, while being named the second best player in the entire state regardless of classification.

Barker entered the day as one of the 24 best players in the state and one of the three best players in her classification, and by the end of it, she was the best in her classification and the second best overall behind just Annie Hughes of Pisgah, who took home the award of Miss Basketball.

While Barker missed out on the state’s top honor by just six points, with Hughes totaling 52 points and five first place votes against Barker’s 46 points and three first place votes, her placement on the Super All-State team featuring the state’s five best basketball players as a junior shouldn’t be overlooked.

In her three years as a starter with the Jaguars, Barker has helped lead the team to three consecutive berths in the Elite Eight, two final four appearances and one state championship.

Barker, who had to overcome a major knee injury during her eighth-grade year before ever playing for the Jags, has accomplished a ton in her three years at Spain Park, and in the last two alone has set a high bar.

As a sophomore, she only averaged 9.2 points per game, but also posted 7.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. Those were almost double-double numbers as a sophomore, not to mention a blocks per game average that is hard for the tallest centers in the game to reach as seniors in high school.

During Spain Park’s playoff run that season, she posted double-digit points in every game, and was also a rebound shy of a double-double in every game, but her effort was key in leading the Jaguars to a state championship to cap off the special year.

Fast forward a year later, and Barker destroyed defenses.

As a leader on the floor, she knows she has to make her teammates better, and she did that this season despite a loss in the Elite Eight to Hewitt-Trussville.

Barker was close to averaging a double-double this season as well, but in more dominant fashion with 20.2 points and 9. 5 rebounds per game.

Her points per game total was the most in Class 7A, while her rebounds per game total was the third most behind two players that played the majority of the season in the post, while Barker was playing outside as a guard-forward combo.

She also posted 2.5 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, showing her brilliance all over the floor.

Now, as Barker heads into her senior year with Spain Park, she’ll not only be the best returning player in the state, but she’ll have redemption on her mind, as she looks to use her leadership of the team to take them back to the Final Four for the third time in four years after this year’s heartbreaking ending.