Central’s Strother looking to make most of senior year

Central's Ayanna Strother drives through the lane against Rappahannock County in a game last season. Strother is looking to lead the Falcons to a strong year this season. Rich Cooley/Daily file

WOODSTOCK — Central’s Ayanna Strother enjoys the thrill of playing defense.

The senior basketball player has put up strong numbers defensively year after year.

Strother said she prefers to play defense and get steals even more than scoring.

“To me getting a steal is like the most awesome thing,” Strother said. “Getting steals that’s probably the most exciting thing. When the crowd goes wild it’s just a good feeling to have. And defense wins championships.”

Strother enjoyed success on the basketball court at an early age.

As a sixth grader, Strother was part of the Winchester Rising Stars Amateur Athletic Union team which won a national championship.

Strother said it’s still a memory she hasn’t forgotten.

“It was the best, it was awesome,” Strother said. “I love those girls. I’m still in touch with a lot of them. They’re like family.”

Strother has had a solid three seasons at Central. She started her freshman year on the varsity team and said it was a great experience.

“My ninth grade year, I definitely learned how to be a leader, even being so young,” Strother said. “And it’s kind of helped me now, as being a senior those leadership traits really carried over.”

Strother has averaged at least nine points and 2.8 steals per game each season for the Falcons. Her sophomore season, she led the area in steals.

Central coach Bryan Scott, in his third season at the helm, said she has been a huge part of his team the last two years.

Scott said he’s looking for Strother to be a big leader on the team this season.

“She’s got take on that leadership role, there’s no doubt about it,” Scott said. “She’s got to be my leader on the court, recognizing defenses and offenses. She’s probably going to have to play all five positions on the court.”

Scott said he believes Strother is very capable of playing anywhere he puts her. Last year she played at both guard positions, but Scott said with a lack of size on the team Strother will have to play inside the paint as well.

Scott said that Strother had a solid game in the Falcons’ first scrimmage last week, and she has really improved her rebounding.

Strother, who also throws the discus on Central’s track and field team, said she plays basketball year-round.  She said she doesn’t play on AAU teams anymore, but she does work with her dad in the gym as much as she can.

Strother said she also does some training at Frisby’s Agility, Speed & Strength Training in Winchester. Strother said the training has helped her get stronger and faster.

One person who Strother said has had a big influence on her game has been Erick Green Sr. Green, who is now the Millbrook High School girls basketball coach, coached Strother on the Winchester Rising Stars. Strother said she still does workouts with him from time to time.

“He’s helped a lot,” Strother said. “He’s always been there. He basically taught me how to play real basketball. I played (Shenandoah County) parks and rec, but he really kind of shaped where I am today.”

One person who won’t be on the floor with Strother this season is Tamra Scott, who graduated from Central in June. Strother said she and  Scott were very close and really connected on the basketball court.

“She’s my girl,” Strother said of  Scott. “I’m really going to miss having her on the team this year. We grew up together. So we were best friends on and off the court. And when we played together we just kind of clicked. Everything we did was the same. And it was awesome. It was like fire.”

Central opens its season Tuesday, hosting East Rockingham at 7:30 p.m.

Central had an up and down season last year, but Strother said she has high hopes for what the team can do this season.

“I’m expecting us to have a really successful year,” Strother said. “We did lose a lot of key players, but we have filled them back in, and I’m really expecting great things this year.

“It’s my last year, so I want to make it count.”