Cierra Carter has stepped to the forefront during her junior year at Spring Valley, and it suits her well.
“She sure does a lot of good things for us,” Vikings coach Anne Long said of Carter, the only returning starter from last season’s quarterfinal squad.
Carter has posted seven double-doubles, leading the Vikings with an average 20 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The junior said she was well-prepared for her turn as the team’s go-to player.
“I knew I was going to have to be a leader at this point, but I was up for the challenge because I had really good leaders. Asia (Dozier) and Xylina (McDaniel) basically showed me how to carry myself, knowing that they weren’t going to be here,” she said.
Carter was a freshman getting minimal playing time when Dozier and McDaniel led Spring Valley to the 2011 title. Getting her first starts as a sophomore, Carter also gained invaluable experience.
“(She had) been a role player, and she understood the last couple of years that she played that we had some outstanding offensive players and she accepted that role well. And now, it’s kind of her time to step in and she’s handling that well,” Long said.
“I was a little surprised at first and I had to adjust, but I think I’ve adapted well,” Carter said.
The transition did not come without a few growing pains.
Carter was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder from the start, but being the focus of opposing defenses and the center of the Vikings’ game plan was a challenge. With most of her teammates getting their first major playing time, Carter sometimes overextended herself.
“She knew she had the capability to do it. She was trying a little bit too hard at the beginning; was trying to create too much. She finally just realized she could trust her teammates as they got more experience,” Long said. “She’s come through for us.”
Carter said she enjoyed the challenge, and her confidence grew as her teammates matured on the court.
So far, Carter’s efforts have helped lift the Vikings to the top of Region 4-4A, and the future is as bright for Spring Valley as it is for its new young leader.
Said Carter: “I’m going to try to be a super-Viking, do my best and bring my team along with me.”