Robert Wilson spent 23 years at The Clarion-Ledger/Jackson Daily News as a sportswriter with more than half of those years covering high school sports, mostly in the Metro Jackson area. He helped choose the All-Metro teams in various sports for more than a decade. Wilson rebirthed this team with the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Jackson Boys and Girls Basketball Teams with 20 players and a Coach and Player of the Year on each team. These are the fifth annual teams. With the help of high school and college coaches, Wilson selected the best players and best coaches for the 2023-2024 season from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. The boys story and teams will run later this week.

By Robert Wilson

       East Rankin Academy coach Brooke Rhodes became the best player in school history when she played at East Rankin 15 years ago.

       Canton High’s Shamira Morton is on her way to becoming the best player in her school’s history.

       The talented duo have been named the 2024 PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Girls Basketball Coach and Player of the Year respectively.

       Rhodes scored 2,568 career points and led East Rankin to a 35-2 record and the school’s first MAIS Overall Tournament championship as a senior in 2010. This season, Rhodes guided her team to a 39-8 record – a school record for wins – and the school’s second Overall title, beating defending Overall champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the finals.

       Morton – a 6-foot-3 sophomore center – was dominating this season, averaging 20.1 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.8 blocked shots and led Canton to a 28-5 record and a MHSAA Class 5A state runner-up finish.

       Rhodes was one of the best shooters in MAIS history. She averaged 21.4 points as a senior. Rhodes scored 35 points in the Overall championship win over Pillow Academy – one of the greatest performances in MAIS championship history – and averaged 32 points in three Overall games. She was practically unstoppable, despite double and triple teams.

Rhodes was a star at Delta State and Southern Miss and was an assistant coach at Central Arkansas, Jones College, Presbyterian College, and Western Carolina for a combined six years before deciding to come home. 

“I learned a lot and it was a great experience coaching college, but I knew I always wanted to be a high school coach,” said Rhodes, who finished her third season at East Rankin. “It is so cool to coach where my Papa’s name (Rhodes’ and former East Rankin coach Billy Rhodes) is on the (East Rankin) gym. It is special. He comes to some of the practices and comes to the games.”

And her grandfather was there at the Overall championship game. So was her father, Keith, who helped her on the sidelines since she became head coach. The same father, along with Rhodes’ mother Michelle, who rebounded countless jump shots and put in hundreds of hours working with their daughter as she became a shooting star.

“To win the Overall at ERA was so awesome,” Rhodes said. “I’m so humbled that I get to coach at the place that helped mold me into the person I am today. For me, it’s like a dream come true and something I used to always want when I was a little girl and watching my Paw-Paw coach there.”

Rhodes become the third person in MAIS history to win a girls Overall title as a player and coach. Amy Carroll Denley did it for Kirk Academy in 1988 as player and won Overall for her alma mater as a coach in 2018 and Amanda Gulley Hatch did it as a player for Leake Academy in 1999 and for her alma mater as a coach in 2021.

Jackson Prep girls basketball coach Michael McAnally coached Rhodes at East Rankin and guided the Lady Patriots to the Overall crown in 2010. 

“Brooke always had a high basketball IQ – I think all the really good players do – so I’m not surprised she’s now on the sidelines,” said McAnally, who was named Metro Jackson Coach of the Year after leading Prep to the Overall title in 2022. “She understands the game, she has a great passion for the game, and she wants to impact kids. I think impact is probably the biggest deference for her coming back to the high school game. While I’m sure Brooke would have made a great college coach, I think she was meant to be in the high school ranks and no place more fitting than East Rankin.

“I was extremely happy for Brooke and her team winning Overall. You always want your team to be there, but glad if it couldn’t be us, I’m glad it was Brooke. Her team played the best that week and deserved to win. I think their team really improved on the defensive end on the floor and defending well the whole Overall tournament. That’s a testament to Brooke’s coaching and having her team ready to a win a defensive battle.”

Rhodes returned four starters from last year’s team, which finished 19-17 and didn’t reach the Class 5A state tournament. She expected to have a better record and make a deeper run, but her team exceeded her expectations. The Lady Patriots more than doubled the win total and finished second in the 5A tournament and won the Overall.

“I think our expectation number one was to get to the 5A state tournament and then hope that put us in position to get us to MC in the Overall Tournament because it had been a while since ERA had made it there,” Rhodes said. “This past spring and summer we played a lot of games against a bunch of different kinds of opponents and had a successful summer in that and I felt like those games gave us confidence that we could win big games. I think that in November at our Thanksgiving tournament, I realized we may have a chance to do something special when we played Pillow and they beat us by two. Yes, it was still a loss, but the look on the kids’ faces was different after that game. They expected to win it and thought we should have. In the past couple of years, we kind of just accepted defeat from programs that are so tradition rich like Pillow and just sort of had the attitude of well they are supposed to beat us because of who they are. I think then I realized what these kids expected from this year. We dropped a couple of close ones after that, too, but each time they learned stuff from each loss, and we just continued to get better. They were so resilient.”
       Rhodes pointed to the team’s chemistry as one of the main traits of their success this season.

“I think we improved all year because of the unselfishness that they played with overall,” Rhodes said. “When you get a bunch of girls together it’s special for them to all be rooting for each other as much as they are themselves and not worrying about who scores the most or any of that. They just locked in and wanted to win no matter what. Also, our ability to finish games when we had a lead became better as the year went on.”

Rhodes has learned from her experiences from her family, her playing and being an assistant coach to become a successful head coach.

“Always work hard even when things may not always be easy, to do all things with honesty and integrity and to love and take care of people around you always are things I have picked up from other people in my life to be a successful coach,” said Rhodes, who not only has her father an assistant coach but also East Rankin graduate Austin Banes. “To me this award summarizes that because you don’t get Coach of the Year if you don’t have great people around you, especially great players, so honestly to me this is a team award.”

Rhodes started one senior (Addison Brown), one junior (Presley Thompson), two sophomores (Holly Jackson and Addison Derrick) and one freshman (Liz Stevens). Sophomore Ashley Miller was the first player off the bench.

       East Rankin won its 20th game before Christmas, possibly the only team in the country to reach that mark before the holidays. The Lady Patriots kept winning and tied Leake for the Class 5A, District 2 championship and was the No. 1 seed because of a tiebreaker. East Rankin defeated Simpson Academy on Simpson’s home court for the district tournament title, finished second to Rossville, Tenn., in the north state and state tournaments and defeated Lamar Christian, Delta Academy and Central Hinds Academy before beating MRA 41-39 for the Overall title. Brown made a layup with 15 seconds to play for the winning shot.

       The 6-2 Stevens – a member of the Metro Jackson third team – led East Rankin with 12.9 points and 10.9 rebounds. She had 16 points and 14 rebounds in the Overall semifinals win over Central Hinds and 11 points and eight rebounds in the championship win over MRA. Jackson – a member of the Metro Jackson fourth team – averaged 11.1 points and had a game-high 22 points in the win over Central Hinds in the Overall semifinals. Thompson averaged 9.4 points.

       Rhodes comes from a basketball family. Her grandfather, Billy Rhodes, played at Hinds Community College and Mississippi College before he started his longtime coaching career. Her grandmother, Betty Rhodes, played at Crossroads High near Pelahatchie. Her father, Keith, played at East Rankin and Hinds CC. Her mom, Michelle, graduated from Pelahatchie High. Her brother, Tyler, played at East Rankin (2012 graduate) and won a national championship at Jones County Junior College. Her sister, Taylor, played at East Rankin (2014 graduate) and was named South MVP in the all-star game. Her other grandparents, Wayne and Martha Hanson, are big fans of Rhodes and East Rankin.

       Morton started for Canton as an eighth grader (she had games of 12 and 10 blocked shots), then transferred to Clinton Christian Academy for her freshman season and transferred back to Canton last summer. She took the MHSAA by storm this season. Morton had five triple doubles (points, rebounds, and blocked shots) and 22 double doubles (points and rebounds). Her scoring average was sixth best in Mississippi according to MaxPreps, her rebound average was second best in Mississippi and her blocked shots average was first in Mississippi and 25th best in the country. And all that while playing an average of three quarters per game.

Morton had career highs of 30 points against MHSAA Class 7A state runner-up Germantown, 23 rebounds against Ridgeland and 12 blocked shots against Cleveland Central and Greenville. She failed to get at least 10 rebounds only four times and failed to score at least 10 points once (Morton scored nine points against MHSAA Class 7A state contender Madison Central).

Morton scored 20 points, 18 in the second half, 10 in the fourth quarter, and had 12 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 blocked shot in the Class 5A state championship loss to Laurel. Canton fell behind when senior guard Na’Miya Davis went down with an injury in the first half, but Morton did her best to bring her team back in the second half. It was the first time Canton had made the championship game since it won a state title in 2013. The victory total tied the school record of 2013.

       “Shamira’s decision-making with double and triple teams throughout the season improved tremendously,” Canton coach Melissa Word said. “She’s always been very unselfish and at times too unselfish. But that lets me know that she trusted her teammates. Her versatility to post up and be able to step away from the goal improved, also. She’s one of the hardest working players I’ve coached in my (26-year) career. Shamira’s strengths are that she knows the game and studies it to become better. She is continually grinding to get better every day and makes her teammates better, too. Most of the colleges who have contacted me were excited about how much she had improved over the summer and her versatility.”

       Madison Central coach Tameika Brown was one of many opposing coaches impressed with Morton’s play this season.

       “I like the versatility of her game,” Brown said. “She can play in the post; she can make the mid-range jump shot and she can shoot the 3-ball. She runs the floor hard, so you have to guard her in transition, and she protects the rim by blocking shots. Her size is definitely a problem for a lot of teams. I think she was able to be successful because she is a threat in so many ways. Not only can she score, defend, run the floor, and protect the rim, but she also rebounds. So, you have to block her out off of the offensive board, and she also makes it hard to get rebounds when she is on defense. She is a really good player and her game is only going to grow as she plays more and get older.”

       Morton has offers from Southern Miss, Jackson State, Memphis, Louisiana-Monroe, Murray State, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff and interest Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and California-Berkley. 

       “I have improved my post game, shooting the 15-footer more and being a leader on the court,” Morton said. “I played AAU in the Under Armour Circuit with the Arkansas Mavs Elite and also worked on my individual game. My main strengths are playing offense and also defending the post. College coaches are interested in me because of my length, the way I can defend and my jumper, but mainly how versatile I am.”

Morton averaged 10.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 blocked shots and helped Clinton Christian to a 19-15 record and a third-place finish in the MAIS Class 4A state tournament and reached the MAIS Overall Tournament semifinals and made fourth team All-Metro Jackson last season as a freshman.       

Morton is the daughter of Shameka and Dewayne Morton. Shameka played basketball at Gulfport High and Jefferson Davis Junior College, now Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Dewayne played basketball at Canton High and Holmes CC. 

Shamira has three older brothers, Gregory Moore, Donovan Morton and Malachi Morton, and a younger sister, Daliyah Morton. Gregory graduated from Canton High and Mississippi Gulf Coast CC and will graduate next spring from Tennessee State. Donovan graduated from Germantown High and will graduate next spring from Jackson State. Malachi played basketball at Velma Jackson High and Yazoo County High. Daliyah is in the third grade at the Canton Arts and Science.


Metro Jackson Coach of the Year

2023: Ashli Sutton, Callaway

2022: Michael McAnally, Jackson Prep 
2021: Josh Zeitz, Clinton Christian Academy
2020: Pearlene Fairley, Clinton

Metro Jackson Player of the Year

2023: Madison Booker, Germantown

2022: Madison Booker, Germantown
2021: Madison Booker, Germantown
2020: Rose Warren, Puckett

Click here to view full All-Metro Team