Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hough girls star Anna Diggs pushes her team to first place

There were a lot of expectations for Anna Diggs before she ever played a game for the Hough girls' basketball team in their inaugural season last year.

Diggs lived up to the hype, leading her team to a 17-10 record and a third-place finish in the I-Meck while averaging 17 points per game as a freshman. This season, she's helped push Hough (12-6, 8-1) into sole possession of first place in the I-Meck 4A. Hough plays at rival North Meck Friday.

In the program's short history, Diggs has been the catalyst for Hough, with Huskies' coach Sonja Tate always close behind her, pushing the point guard to play up to her potential and help her team to do the same.

"Anna has always been known as a great shooter, but that is not all she can do," said Tate. "She has worked hard to expand her game, where she can drive to the basket and be effective as a creator and passer."

Diggs has learned not only to be more patient in working for her shots, but also to take only good shots. In that process, she is also able to distribute the ball, creating more opportunities for her teammates.

In turn, Diggs has had some big games recently - from her 27-point outburst against Anson County, shooting 6-of-8 from behind the 3-point line, to her 19-point effort in a critical 64-54 road win over Lake Norman.

While their first year was a success, Hough created even bigger expectations for year two of the program.

"The expectations on me and this team have been high since we got here," said Diggs. "But we feel like we can live up to all that and be the best team in this conference. But to do that, we have to play with the intensity like every game is the conference championship."

Hough has lived up to its expectations this year.

Diggs, 16, who averages 13 points per game this season, has led a more balanced attack from the point with sophomore Olivia DeMarcus and junior Brandi Arey on the wings and sophomores Julia Brown and Kelsey Dean leading the interior unit.

"It's been interesting to see this group of young players grow together," said Tate. "I've been very tough on Anna at times, but it's because I expect a lot out of her. She has a lot of God-given talent."

Like Diggs, Tate grew up a shooting guard who also played the point as she moved through the ranks from high school to college basketball at Arkansas State to the professional ranks, where she played two seasons for the Minnesota Lynx.

Diggs is glad to be able to have her coach's experience to look up to.

"I definitely trust Coach Tate to help me get better because I know she knows what she is talking about," said Diggs.

Diggs also work on her game in the offseason with her Lake Norman Magic AAU team, which also features Hough teammates Arey, Brown, Dean and DeMarcus as well as Bandys' standout Madi Story and Lake Norman Charter center Ezzine Mbamalu.

Diggs hopes all of her work will play off as the Huskies come down the stretch in the I-Meck regular season and into the postseason.

Hough has a few more big weeks remaining, with a trip to rival North Meck on Friday, followed by an important homestand against Mooresville and Lake Norman before the regular season finale at Mallard Creek, which the Huskies beat for the first time earlier this month.

"Last year, we came out with nothing to lose because we were new," said Diggs. "This year, we are looking to start a winning tradition at Hough. We are always going to be the first varsity team at Hough, but we want people to remember us for being winners as well."

-- Correspondent Jay Edwards for

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