Smith named coach of the Year, Cintron named second team
Junior Maya Llanes, the leader of the Zephyrhills High School girls’ basketball team, was named Sunshine Athletic Conference East Player of the Year and head coach Chris Smith, who led the Lady Bulldogs to an 18-9 record, was named SAC East Coach of the Year.
Junior Mikayla Cintron, a physical force on the court, was named to the SAC East second team-All Conference.
Llanes led the SAC East with 18.5 points per game and led the state in steals with 9.8 per game. She averaged 7.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 2.2 blocks per game this season.
“It means a lot to see these girls get the honors they deserve,” said Smith. “I knew Maya was a real good player then when I was tallying her stats for the All-Conference meeting, I knew it was going to be a fight.”
Cintron averaged 9.6 ppg to go with 15 rebounds per game and two blocks. Her physical play on the court for the Lady Bulldogs served as a catalyst that helped guide Zephyrhills to 18 wins.
“She is a strong girl and pushes us around on the court,” Smith said. “We have to tell her to be easy on us. If you try to match her physicality, she will turn it up a notch..”
For Smith, he isn’t concerned about personal accolades. He want to see his players get the recognition they deserve, which explains his disappointment of the snub of his senior point guard and 2020 first-teamer Tajia McCullough, who led the state with 9.1 assists per game.
“Her court presences and her knowledge of the game makes her another coach out there,” said Smith. “She is worthy to be All-Conference. It will be tough losing her. The ball was in her hands 90 percent of the time.”
Smith’s Lady Bulldogs return a strong compliment of juniors with Llanes, Cintron, Makenna Campbell and Madison Driggers.