State Gazette Girls Basketball Offensive Player of the Year: Dyersburg Lady Trojan Joya Crawford

Monday, July 1, 2024
Dyersburg Lady Trojan Joya Crawford


Coming off a season which saw her pile up not only the points but accolades as well, Dyersburg junior basketball player Joya Crawford has been selected as the State Gazette Girls Basketball Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight year.

The regular season saw her earn District 13AAA All-District and District Most Valuable Player honors. Crawford continued to pick up awards on the way to helping the Lady Trojans win the school’s first-ever girls basketball state championship. In fact, Crawford picked up one of the biggest awards a player can get in the postseason as she was named the Class AAA State Tournament Most Valuable Player. Add this to her selection to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and Basketball Coaches Association of Tennessee’s all-state teams for Class AAA and you have a growing list of honors for Crawford heading into her senior year.

“Joya grew up a lot this year,” Dyersburg Head Coach Tim Strayhorn explained. “She’s always been able to score.

“There’s one thing about Joya – because we had several girls that could score this year – it never effects her. She never really forces shots just to get points.”

Strayhorn added Crawford is a great team player.

This past season was a stark contrast to her freshman season where she was almost the only option for the Lady Trojans on offense.

“She doesn’t have to force anything now,” the Dyersburg head coach added. “All five girls last year could pass and catch.

“We never had to force anything and we had to just rely on her to go score and force things.”

Crawford’s numbers while helping her team to a state title were still strong enough to earn her a Class AAA Miss Basketball Semifinals nomination. Crawford averaged 16.6 points per game during her junior season while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and hit 37.5 percent of her three-point shots.

“She’s let the game come to her,” Strayhorn added.

Crawford has also become a more complete player, improving her defense to compliment her offensive game. Defensively, Crawford had 52 steals and 71 deflections while grabbing 132 rebounds.

Strayhorn agreed this also helps her offensive game.

“I think, in the past, we were asking so much out of her,” he explained. “She had to tote all the load in scoring.

“I think it kind of wore her down. At the end of most games, she’d always close out on the best player on defense. With her rebounding, she really improved the most.”

Strayhorn pointed out her best asset is one you want from a player in her role.

“When the game is on the line, go get a bucket,” Strayhorn said.

This asset was showcased on the biggest stage as Crawford overcame illness during the TSSAA Class AAA Championship Game to hit the eventual game-winning shot.

“That’s very impressive because I was also sick (that night),” Strayhorn recalled. “I was dehydrated and exhausted in the time outs.

“I can’t imagine how she was feeling out there playing in a big game that way. She’s just a warrior. That’s the reason we are where we are today. Her leadership. Wanting to win. It filters off to the rest of the team.”

Looking ahead to her senior year, the goals are still there for the Lady Trojan who has already committed to play at the University of Cincinnati at the college level.

“Keep working on her skills,” Strayhorn said. “And, keep getting better.

“She still can improve. And we’ve talked about some of the things she can work on and improve on. She’s going to work hard and improve. It’s just going to make us a better team.”

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