Dominant season lifts DCA’s Mbugua to top of girls All-Area team

Published 10:15 am Friday, April 5, 2024

Grace Mbugua, who became one of the dominant scorers and rebounders in Kentucky while leading Danville Christian to its first regional championship, has been voted The Advocate-Messenger 2023-24 Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.

Mbugua was the top vote-getter in exclusive balloting of area coaches for The Advocate-Messenger All-Area Girls Basketball Team, prevailing in an extremely close race for player of the year.

She became the first area girls or boys player of the year from DCA.

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The 6-4 junior averaged 25.7 points and 15.4 rebounds to help the Lady Warriors go 29-3 and win the 12th Region for the first time. She led the state in rebounding for the third consecutive season and was fifth in the state in scoring this season.

Mbugua turned heads in DCA’s first appearance in the Girls Sweet 16, posting 34 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in a narrow first-round loss to Cooper in which she played the entire second half with four fouls.

“I’ve been watching tournament basketball since I was 5 years old. I’ve seen just unbelievable tournament games, and I thought that was the gutsiest performance I’d ever seen,” DCA coach Billy Inmon said. “Obviously, I think Grace is the best player in the region.”

That Sweet 16 game might well change the trajectory of Mbugua’s life, as she recently reopened her recruitment after having committed to Liberty prior to her freshman season.

Mbugua, who ranked seventh in the state in field goal percentage (.618), edged Anna Drakeford of Mercer County in the voting for the top spot on the All-Area team.

Drakeford ranked fourth in the state and first in the 12th Region in scoring (26.0) and led Mercer in field goal percentage (.536) and free throw percentage (.751) and was second in rebounding (6.3).

A Miss Basketball finalist who has signed with Thomas More, Drakeford broke the Lady Titans’ single-season assists record and leaves ranked No. 2 in the program in career scoring.

Other players on the All-Area first team are:

  • Alayah Quisenberry, who took over as Danville’s floor leader this season and was second in scoring (14.9) for the Lady Admirals.
  • Payton Bugg, who led a resurgent Boyle County team in scoring (11.4) and rebounding (6.8).
  • Macey Rice, who led Lincoln County in scoring (12.2) and was second in 3-point percentage (.296) and free throw percentage (.714).

Drakeford and Sara Dunn of Mercer received player of the year votes along with Mbugua.

Dunn is joined on the second team by Myla Turner of Danville, Elizabeth Forbes of Casey County, Alyssa Burkhart of Garrard County and Annabelle Tarter of Boyle.

Mbugua made the All-Area first team for the third consecutive season, and Drakeford made the first team for the second straight year after receiving honorable mention in 2022.

Bugg moves up to the first team after being voted to the second team in each of the past two seasons.

The All-Area team is open to players from schools in Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties. Coaches may not vote for players from their own teams.

Hayley Spivey, who led a Mercer team that lost three starters to an 18-14 record and its 16th consecutive 46th District championship, was voted The Advocate-Messenger Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season. She is the first coach of the year from Mercer since Chris Souder in 2018.

Brian Britt of Boyle, Judie Mason of Danville and Caitlin Hall Parson of Lincoln also received votes for coach of the year.


First Team

Name, School, Ht., Yr., Pos., Pts., Reb.

Grace Mbugua, Danville Christian, 6-4, Jr., F, 25.7, 15.4

Anna Drakeford, Mercer County, 5-8, Sr., G, 26.0, 6.3

Alayah Quisenberry, Danville, 5-4, Jr., G, 14.9, 4.4

Payton Bugg, Boyle County, 5-10, Sr., G, 11.4, 6.8

Macey Rice, Lincoln County, 5-4, Sr., G, 12.2, 3.1

Second Team

Name, School Ht. Yr. Pos. Pts. Reb.

Myla Turner, Danville, 5-6, Jr., F, 15.2, 5.1

Sara Dunn, Mercer County, 5-8, Sr., F, 11.2, 6.2

Elizabeth Forbes, Casey County, 5-6, So., G, 14.5, 2.4

Alyssa Burkhart, Garrard County, 5-2, 8th, G, 12.6, 3.1

Annabelle Tarter, Boyle County, 5-7, Sr., G, 6.0, 3.3

Honorable Mention

Boyle County – Maggie Burke, Addison Yates, Ashlen Young

Burgin – Avery Gray, Isabella Mays

Casey County – Chelsea Reed

Danville Christian – Amauri Blackford, Braxtyn Heck, Paisley Metz

Garrard County – Keannah Childress, Alexys Moore

Lincoln County – Maecey Carrier, MaKayla Greer

Mercer County – Izzie Carlton, Skylar Webb

Area Coach of the Year

Hayley Spivey, Mercer County.