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Girls Athlete of the Week: North Hall's Sydney Cleveland
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Honor Roll

Schyler Miller, Lakeview Academy: Tallied 19 points in a win against Commerce last Tuesday.

Kayla Watson, Chestatee: Notched 15 in a win against Gilmer last Tuesday and 16 in a win against Pickens on Friday.

Corey Staples, Buford: Scored 16 points in a win against East Hall last Tuesday.

Paisley Lee, Gainesville: Had 11 points in a win against Heritage on Tuesday, seven in a win against Cedar Shoals on Friday, and 15 in a win against East Hall on Saturday.

Hannah Grogan, Lakeview Academy: Recorded 18 in a win against Flowery Branch on Saturday.

Ainsley Cash, Lakeview Academy: Tallied 15 in a win against Flowery Branch on Saturday.

Sheyenne Seabolt, Dawson County: Had 14 points in a win against Pickens on Tuesday and 19 in a win against Lumpkin County on Friday.

Karlie Bearden, Dawson County: Scored 14 points in a win against Pickens on Tuesday and 18 in a win against Lumpkin County on Friday.

Bridgette Kelly, Chestatee: Recorded 14 points in a win against Gilmer on Tuesday and 17 in a win against Pickens on Friday.

Taylor Kennedy, Banks County: Notched 20 in a win against Rabun County on Friday.

Kaitlyn Duncan, Banks County: Tallied 20 in a win against Rabun County on Friday.

This time last season, North Hall’s Sydney Cleveland was sidelined with a torn ACL.

A year later she’s back on the court for the Lady Trojans — and playing better than ever.

“She attacked her rehab,” North Hall coach Kristi House said. “She went to therapy for our team. She wanted to be on the court more than anyone.”

Now that Cleveland is back in uniform for her junior season with the Lady Trojans, she’s making the most of it, helping North Hall get off to a perfect 5-0 start.

“I just really listened to what [the trainers] had to say,” Cleveland said. “Getting back on the court really motivated me.”

Her motivation showed last week as Cleveland notched 20 points in a win against Banks County on Tuesday and 17 in a win against West Hall in the first round of the Lanierland Tournament on Saturday.

For her efforts, she is The Times Girls’ Athlete of the Week.

According to House, Cleveland has always been a leader for North Hall, but being sidelined during the height of the season gave her a new perspective on her role as a Lady Trojan.

“We would talk to her during the game,” House said. “Now she articulates to other players on the court.”

Cleveland noted that she learned a lot during her injury, especially about communication, which has improved the team’s play overall this year.

“I learned that you have to talk and be loud,” Cleveland said. “I lean more on my teammates now because I couldn’t have gotten through this without them.”

This North Hall girls team has better chemistry than many she’s played on, Cleveland emphasized, and she credits that to her personal success along with the team’s. Her bond with the rest of the Lady Trojans helps Cleveland stay calm when things don’t go her way, and she gets excited seeing her teammates play well.

“They all look up to her,” House said. “She’s a strong leader on the floor, and she’s a dream to coach.”

House also described Cleveland’s play as “smart,” something that has made her an asset to the team since her freshman year.

“She has the ability to score when she’s guarded,” House said. “She’s worked individually to become a really multidimensional player.”

Now, coming up on the year anniversary of her injury, Cleveland continues to lead the Lady Trojans into the semifinals of the Lanierland Tournament on Friday at Lakeview Academy in Gainesville, but her knee stays in the back of her mind.

“There’s always going to be that thought in my mind that says ‘What if I hurt it again?’” Cleveland said. “But basketball won’t be here forever, so I’m not going to play scared.”

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