Chioya Hill sprung onto to the prep basketball scene late last season as a surprise freshmen starter asked to fill in for an injured player at an unfamiliar position.
Despite those challenges, it wasn’t long before she began drawing praise as an up-and-coming player that was both talented and coachable.
As a fill-in point guard, she engineered the Lady Horns’ offense while continuing to play her hard-nosed brand of defense.
Following her rookie year, Hill carried that same type of intensity over into the recently completed 2011-2012 season. Those exploits impressed opposing coaches enough to have them vote her to the prestigious 3A East All-Region team.
Looking back, it’s easy to see why the PHS sophomore was named to the East team.
In a late season East tournament loss to Round Valley, she was all over the floor scoring 12 points, corralling eight rebounds and recording three steals.
In a Jan. 10 54-31 win over Show Low she had 12 points, four rebounds and four steals and in an early season win over Chino Valley she dominated on the boards with 12 rebounds.
However, it might have been her “D” that impressed coach Kelly Krieg the most.
“She comes to play,” she said.
When Hill was sidelined by an ankle injury late in 2010 in the Wickenburg tournament, the coach bemoaned her loss saying,
“That really hurt us as she is our leader at both ends of the floor.”
During the Holiday Hoops tournament in late December, Hill returned from the injury to lead the Lady Horns in a hard-fought 52-44 loss to Flagstaff Coconino. Playing her usual hustle type of game, she led the team with 12 points.
As the season wore on, Hill’s reputation grew around the region, prompting Blue Ridge on Jan. 21 to employ a “Box-and-1” defense in an effort to slow her.
The gimmick defense worked to a point, holding her to just two points, but it also freed up some of her teammates to score more points.
Although Hill has turned in a banner season that earned her an all-region berth, she has two more years of varsity play and Krieg is almost certain her charge will continue to improve.
Krieg says she expects Hill next year to become one of the team’s go-to players. With the current season over, all that remains for Hill and her teammates is to gather one final time for the awards ceremony to be held at 6 p.m., Feb. 24 in the Rim Country Middle School cafeteria.