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Anderson becomes first Lady Dukes hoops player to earn all-state recognition

The on-court leader helping spearhead the unprecedented success of Cumberland High School’s varsity girls basketball team this past season recently received some state-level recognition that, fittingly, also made school history.

Senior forward Bria Anderson became the first Cumberland girls basketball player to ever be named all-state, earning a spot on the 2016-17 Group 1A all-state first team.

This honor came after a season in which she helped lead the Lady Dukes to their first-ever appearance in the state tournament as well as their first-ever Conference 42 tournament championship.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get all-state, because we were in the state tournament, and there (were) pretty good girls out there,” she said, noting she was stunned when she learned she had made the first team. “I was really excited and really happy.”

Earlier this year, she was selected to the All-Region 1A East first team and was also named the Conference 42 girls basketball Player of the Year, an accolade which comes coupled with an all-conference first team selection.

She said receiving an all-state first team honor had been a goal, but she had been specifically aiming for it in her primary sport — volleyball.

“In basketball, I really didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “But it happened in basketball. So, I don’t care that it’s not in volleyball, because this was a great season for me.”

For the 2016-17 basketball season, Anderson averaged 23 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, six blocks and six steals per game.

Omar Liggins, Cumberland’s head varsity girls basketball coach, said he was happy for Anderson for receiving the all-state first team selection.

“Like I told her and like I told other people, I just think if anybody deserved it, I think she’s definitely one,” he said. “She put her heart, body and soul into the game. She did what an all-state player does.”

The Lady Dukes struggled in the Virginia High School League Group 1A state tournament, falling in the quarterfinals, but Liggins had an idea why this did not deter all-state voters from putting Anderson among the state’s first-team players.

“I just think that they looked at what she did throughout the year and all that, and I think they just came to a good decision,” he said.

Anderson said she did not think that she would be the inaugural female basketball player at Cumberland to receive an all-state honor, “so that’s a great accomplishment, and I feel like I just set the bar high for the other athletes coming in to play basketball, and they could possibly reach that too, and then we’ll have more first team all-(state players) instead of just one.”

She hopes her achievement will influence other student-athletes to overcome doubts about their chances of becoming an all-state honoree.

“I didn’t think it could be done until I did it,” she said. “It can be done.”