By Robert Wilson
Ridgeland’s Katelyn Brinkley has battled several injuries this season, but has overcome them and played well, especially last week in the MHSAA Class 5A, Region 3 tournament.
The 6-foot-1 senior forward and Jackson State commitment had a season-high 27 points and 12 rebounds and led No. 3 seed Ridgeland to a 62-60 upset over No. 1 seed Neshoba Central for the region championship.
For her outstanding performance, Brinkley has been named the Performance Therapy/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Girls Basketball Player of the Week.
Brinkley also had 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 50-40 victory over No. 2 seed Canton in the first round of the 5A, Region 3 tournament.
Neshoba Central came into the title game against Ridgeland with a 23-4 overall record and 6-0 region play and defeated Ridgeland by 24 and 20 points in its two regular season meetings.
But Brinkley and her teammates pulled off the upset on Neshoba Central, considered one of the contenders for the 5A state championship. Neshoba Central’s other three losses were to Class 6A teams Biloxi, Brandon and Clinton and defending 4A state champion Choctaw Central.
“Katelyn has great work ethic, which was instrumental in helping her battle injuries this season,” said first-year Ridgeland coach Erica Stringfellow Smith about Brinkley, who had a torn ACL injury last May and came back to play in November then suffered a dislocated shoulder injury in December and missed three weeks. “She worked hard and bounced back. She stepped up to help her team win the district championship. Katelyn scored in the paint, hit the mid-range shot and as well as the 3-point shot. She rebounded the ball well on both ends. Katelyn played with a refuse to lose mentality. It has been a great experience coaching her.”
Brinkley – a member of the PriorityOne Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – is averaging 12 points and six rebounds this season for 14-14 Ridgeland.
Brinkley averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals and led Ridgeland to a 15-13 record and second round of the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs last season as a junior. She made second team All-Metro Jackson and was a member of the Elite 11 last season.
“Katelyn has a big presence on both ends of the floor,” said Smith, who was at Provine for 10 years before coming to Ridgeland. “She is a very versatile player who can finish in the paint and can shoot at the perimeter, mid-range at 3-point line. Katelyn can score at will. She gets back in transition and gets it done on both ends of the floor.”
Ridgeland plays host to Greenville Friday at 6 p.m. in a second round 5A state playoff game at Ridgeland.
Coaches can nominate their players by calling or texting Robert Wilson at 601.506.2276. Only players who play for teams in Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties are eligible.