Molly Heard is still enjoying the excitement of the Pisgah girls basketball team’s 2019-20 state championship-winning season. The news she got Friday night was best described as icing on the cake.
Heard was named the 2020 Class 3A Girls Basketball Player of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association.
The 5-foot-11 forward was one of three finalists for the award, the others being Midfield senior guard Jeremiah Moore and Lauderdale County freshman center Ruthie Smith.
“I was shocked and overwhelmed,” Heard said. “I didn’t think I was going to get it. I thought (Moore) would win. She’s a senior and she’s really good. I’m still just excited. My teammates, they’ve all been really sweet. I’ve had a lot of people call and congratulate me.”
The ASWA announced its 2020 Girls Basketball Players of the Year award winners late Friday night. The annual ASWA awards banquet was canceled because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Heard is also eligible for the ASWA’s Miss Basketball Award, which will be announced April 4.
Heard is the third Pisgah player to win a player of the year award, joining Whitney Ballard (1997) and current Auburn Tiger Annie Hughes (2019).
“It’s crazy to think I’m in the same category with them because they’re both really great ball players,” Heard said. “That’s really awesome to be recognized with them.”
Heard, a three-year varsity player and two-time all-state selection, averaged 18.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 3.5 steals and 1.6 blocked shots per game this past season as Pisgah went 31-3.
Heard helped the No. 2-ranked Eagles win their third straight Class 3A state championship while posting 19 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals in a 59-52 state finals win over No. 1 T.R. Miller and 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots during a 72-58 state semifinal win over No. 5 Pike Road. She was named to the All-Class 3A State Tournament team.
Heard was also the Class 3A Northeast Regional MVP after leading the Eagles past No. 6 Midfield 63-49 and No. 4 Susan Moore 57-45 in the regional semifinals and finals, respectively. She had 19 points, 14 rebounds and four steals against Susan Moore and had 16 points, 15 rebounds, five blocked shots and two steals against Midfield.
“I thought Molly was very deserving,” said Pisgah head coach Carey Ellison. “That’s an elite group she’s a part of. She’s a talented player and has the potential to be a very elite player.”
Heard is already drawing attention from college basketball coaches, including those from Belmont, Jacksonville State and UTC. Ellison said it is only a matter of time before that interest increases.
“There’s always room to improve, but she’s a pretty complete player,” Ellison said. “She shoots well, she passes well, she’s a good rebounder, led us (defensively) in blocked shots. She’s got a good mentality. She doesn’t get caught up on (stats). She does whatever we need her to do.”
Heard thanked her teammates for a memorable 2019-20 season.
“I think the team really bonded well,” she said. “Everybody was friends, everybody supported each other. We had to beat some really good teams (to win the state championship). It was just a great season.”