03/23/08 — Eastern Wayne's Billups Girls Player of the Year

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Eastern Wayne's Billups Girls Player of the Year

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on March 23, 2008 2:03 AM

A dominating factor during Eastern Wayne's back-to-back, Class 3-A Eastern Conference Carolina title runs in volleyball, Brittani Billups knew one thing was missing from her high school resume -- a win over perennial basketball power Wilson Beddingfield.

Billups and point guard Eboni Reid promised each other a victory over the Bruins before graduation. Their vow became reality in mid-February when the Warriors pulled off a stunning victory in the ECC tournament championship.

"When we did it, it was a special moment," said Billups. "That is probably my favorite memory from high school basketball."

Billups hates to leave her prep career behind.

The 6-foot-1 senior forward helped Eastern Wayne compile a program-best 23 wins with head coach Brent Holland. That included an 8-2 conference record and a trip to the sectional 3-A title game.

For her efforts, Billups is the 2007-08 News-Argus All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She also won the award last season.

Joining Billups on the first team are Warrior teammate Tiarra McIntyre; Goldsboro's Ki'ana Williams; Wayne Country Day's Bridgette Briggs and C.B. Aycock's Chantel Gaines.

"My teammates are all so close, and this year we had one of the best seasons Eastern Wayne has had in a long time. It was a lot of fun to play with those girls," said Billups.

The focal point of Eastern Wayne's offense, Billups averaged a double-double -- 27.7 points and 14.7 rebounds this past season. She blocked nearly six shots a game and earned all-ECC honors for the second consecutive season.

Despite facing constant double- and triple-teams, and even a box-and-one on occasion, Billups never wavered against opposing defensive schemes. She says Holland played a role in her court demeanor.

"I think the thing that coach Holland helped me with the most was my attitude on the court," Billups said. "The way I was defended was frustrating, and coach helped me learn to play within my game, and not to go chasing things that weren't there.

"He is a great coach."

While Billups' senior-season numbers are astounding and rank among the state's best, she feels her shot-blocking ability received little recognition. An outstanding blocker in volleyball, Billups says that's the part of the game she likes best.

"I really like to block shots," said Billups. "It takes good timing and good coordination to do that, and I think that maybe that gets missed in what I do."

Billups is aware every part of her game, particularly rebounding, needs improvement.

"It doesn't always take a great athlete to be a great rebounder," said Billups. "It's a lot of heart and a lot of determination. I know it's one of the things I can work on."

Before Billups ends her prep career, she will play in two all-star games -- the Carolina Classic in South Carolina and the N.C. East-West game in mid-July.

Lenoir-Rhyne and several other in-state schools courted Billups for either volleyball or basketball. She and her family decided to cultivate her Division I career, a goal Billups set as a freshman, in Virginia.

"I took a couple official visits, and I sat down with my dad and we went over some things, and in the end it seemed like Longwood was the best fit for me," Billups said. "My dad is my biggest supporter, so his opinion weighed a lot in my decision. They just brought in a new coach at Longwood, and they are starting to work on some different things.'

"I think everyone will be hearing a lot more from Longwood in the near future."

With Billups doing most of the talking.