Irby led Cartersville’s charge into the state playoffs earlier this month, when the Lady Purple Hurricanes advanced to the Elite 8 before losing to the Columbia Lady Eagles, 65-35.
Donna Enis, head coach of the Lady Purple Hurricanes, said Irby’s selection is an honor for the freshman and the basketball team.
“I am so excited for her and our team,” Enis said. “This honor is from coaches, and it shows how much respect they have for her and her abilities.”
The coach said Irby showed a lot of maturity during the season especially in the way she played through special defenses that some teams created for her.
“That really sticks out,” Enis said. “A couple of teams played a deny defense, a box-and-one, aimed at denying her the ball and taking her out of the game. She would still end up with double-digit scoring. I know in two games that stood out — she ended up with 17 points each time. That says a lot about her composure and the kind of player she is. It makes the honor fitting because she can play those kinds of defenses.”
The Lady Canes took some early season losses while the freshman-dominated starters adjusted to the game and each other, but the team had jelled by the close of the regular season and entered the post season on a roll.
Enis said Irby was a key ingredient in the team’s success as she pushed the action quickly down court off fast breaks, resulting in a lot of transition points throughout the season and good looks at the basket for her teammates.
She said the honor is rare, adding it’s been several years since a Lady Purple Hurricane has been named to the all-state team. She added Irby is the first freshman she’s had who received the honor. “I’ve had several juniors make the all-state team.”
She added that Adrienne Green also was nominated for the honor and came close to receiving enough votes.
Enis said she informed Irby of the honor and drew a big smile in response. “She’s real proud of it. It’s a big honor.”
Irby played in 30 games and averaged 17.1 points per game, including a season high of 32 points. She hit a remarkable .533 of her shots. She torched the nets for 36 3-pointers during the season, hitting .219 of those shots. Irby also averaged 5.8 assists per game, 3.3 rebounds — with a season high of 12 rebounds —and 3.7 steals.
Irby earlier was voted as No. 1 player in Region 7-AAA and was Cartersville’s December player of the month.
Other selections on the all-state team include: Jayme Gilbert, Americus-Sumter; Valencia Tuft, Baldwin; Kenyata Hendrix, Carrollton; Tasicianna Taylor. Central, Macon; Peyton Robertson, Chestatee; Zuri Frost, Columbia; Destinee Smith, Columbia; Nasheema Oliver, Crisp County; Quanisha McCurty, Dalton; Amanda Rector, Dalton; Mia Adams, Eagles Landing; Terryuana Godwin, LaGrange; Shakierya McClendon, Peach County; Shaquita Hodges, Rutland; Shaketa Hodges, Rutland; Emma Ucinski, St. Pius X; Danielle Clark, Stone Mountain; Gia Banks, Walnut Grove; Allisha Gray, Washington County; Sierra McNure, Washington County; DyTiesha Dunson, Westover; Toni Williams, Westside, Macon.
Irby is one of two freshmen on the team.