BUIES CREEK, N.C. – Head Coach Wanda Watkins released the Campbell women's basketball team awards on Friday which were led by Tonisha Baker (High Point, N.C.), who earned Team MVP and the Calloway Defensive Award. Rising junior Kiera Gaines (Mechanicsville, Va.) was honored with the Don Phelps Memorial Award for most improved player, while classmate Casey Elliott (Wilson, N.C.) received the coaches' award.
The 2012-13 campaign was a memorable one for the Lady Camels as the program hit the 20-win plateau for the first time since 2001 with a 24-point second-half comeback to top High Point, 74-73, in overtime in the quarterfinal of the Big South Championships.
Campbell was paced all season by the offensive output of Baker, who totaled 15.0 points per game. She was the on-court leader for the squad and dished out a career-best 113 assists, while shooting 47 percent from the floor.
Not only was the All-Big South First Team performer a force on the offensive end, she was typically paired up against the best player on the opposing team because of her speed, quickness and ability to anticipate.
"Defense is an area that Tonisha grew tremendously from the time that she got here as a freshman and eventually turned into one of our most dominate players that we have had here in a long time," said Coach Watkins. "As she began to grow and knew more about our system, a lot of our offensive production came off of turnovers that she forced."
The High Point, N.C., native came away with 99 steals during the campaign, the fourth most by a Lady Camel in program history. Baker additionally finished second in rebounds with 171, but the guard grabbed 132 of those in the back court.
"The work ethic that she brought to the court each day along with her desire to learn has helped develop her into the player that she is today," said Coach Watkins. "She has aided our program in rising to the next level."
Baker recently signed a professional contract to play with the Marburg Blue Dolphins of the German DBBL.
One of the rising stars for Campbell during the campaign was the presence of Gaines down low and at the top of the press. With her 5-11 stature, quickness and long arms, the Mechanicsville, Va., native emerged as a defensive force in generating 72 steals and leading the team in 221 rebounds.
She was one of 10 players to be honored on the Big South all-conference team, gaining second team acknowledgement and was chosen as the Lady Camels' most improved player. Gaines registered 11.1 points per game and made 50 percent of her shots, while draining 25 three-point field goals.
"I am just so amazed at how effective she can be down around the basket," said Coach Watkins. "It was just a lesson for all of us, through adversity things happen that can be really great for the team in other areas. She was proof of that for our team and had a tremendous year for us. We discovered more and more about her as a player as the season went on."
There are a lot of aspects inside the locker room that are unknown that help to keep the team playing in unison. Elliott is the glue that helps hold the team together throughout the season.
She was voted unanimously to the Coaches' Award by the coaching staff, mainly for all the little things that the Wilson, N.C., native does behind the scenes for the program.
"Casey Elliott is one of the most selfless players I have ever coached," said Coach Watkins. "She uses her leadership and intellectual ability to the betterment of our team. She is the type of player that defines the team concept and is really an important aspect for our team."
The Calloway Defensive Award is given annually in the honor of Dr. Pauline Calloway, a longtime member of the Faculty Athletics Committee (FAC). It is presented to the most outstanding defensive player on the team as selected by the coaches.
The Don Phelps Memorial Award is presented annually in the memory and honor of Professor Don Phelps, a longtime member and chairman of the FAC. This award recognizes the most improved player on the women's basketball team.